Is It Time For Your Brand To Make A Stand?
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
One in two people are belief-driven buyers. This means that they choose, switch, avoid and boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues.
This revealing statistic comes from the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand report which shows that it could be beneficial for brands to take a stand on societal issues that concern them.
The report analysed eight key markets: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the UK and the US. Their data involved people from a wide-spread of economic backgrounds and ages.
The report also found that 67% of belief-driven buyers bought a brand for the first time based on its position on a controversial issue.
Belief-driven buyers can also be turned-off a brand due to their lack of involvement with key issues as 65% will not buy a brand because it stayed silent on an issue it had an obligation to address.
The report suggests that consumers no longer see corporations as faceless. Brands with identities, and identities that are in-line with the consumers’ morals and ideals, will be more successful.
I can cite examples of this in my own consumerism; when choosing what energy company to switch to upon moving our search criteria did not just focus on value for money. We were also concerned with finding a ‘greener’ energy company and this formed a significant part of our decision.
What Brands Are Already Taking A Stand?
Brands have been taking a stand, perhaps subtly, for some time now. Cosmetic companies such as The Body Shop and Lush have always marketed themselves as “forever cruelty free” by providing consumers with products that have not been tested on animals. Below are some of the most recent, and perhaps controversial, stands that large corporations have taken.
Just nine days after President Trump signed an order to temporarily close America’s borders to refugees, Airbnb aired an ad during the coveted Super Bowl slot as a direct response to the President’s decision.
“We Accept” shows a montage of people from different nationalities along with the words:
“We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
Airbnb had come under fire for supposed racial discrimination occurring on its platform. By sending out this ad, they have not only shown opposition to Trump, but reassurance that the brand has a no-tolerance policy on matters of racial or ethnic discrimination.
You might be thinking, huh? Stella surely doesn’t have any activist views. However, the brand has seen huge success stemming from its “Buy A Lady A Drink” campaign. Fronted by Matt Damon, Stella in partnership with Water.org have been successfully driving awareness in America for the global water crisis for the past three years.
For every limited edition Stella bottle purchased, a month of clean water is provided to women and their families in developing countries.
This may not be a controversial stance from the brand, but it does give them the image of a considerate, even caring corporation, therefore boosting sales whilst also raising much-needed awareness and resources for a good cause.
One of the most well-publicised, and recent, examples of a brand taking a stand is Nike’s signing of Colin Kaepernick. The selection of outcast American football player and civil rights activist, Kaepernick was met with a polarised response. The ex-football player, famous for sitting, then kneeling in protest at his country’s national anthem said:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
By making Kaepernick the face of Nike in 2018, the company have shown solidarity for his cause, and therefore joined the ranks of brands taking a stand. The accompanying tagline for the campaign, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” references the struggles of Kaepernick and his teammates, but equally and cleverly represents the brand itself.
So should my brand take a stand?
What is clear from the moves of the ‘big brands’ is that the stand they are making is suited to their consumers. Nike, a brand popular across ethnicities, made their stand to show solidarity for their consumers who are being victimised due to their race. Airbnb’s stand related directly to their own negatively publicity and therefore acted to change the company’s direction. Stella’s stand was least controversial and promoted their brand as human, rather than a faceless corporation.
If your brand is to take a stand, you will need to consider your audience and whether this stand is in-line with their wants and needs. Controversial stands, like Nike’s, are sure to cause your brand publicity, but equally risk.
Many CEOs tout that your brand should be a reflection of you and your values. That being said, there is a fine line between taking a stand and turning your brand into a platform for your political views and gripes.
Consumers are becoming increasingly belief-driven, so it’s time to decide what your business believes in and how you are going to champion its belief.