Don’t mix politics and business: Most customers wouldn’t boycott brands that stay silent on social issues

04/04/2019

Nearly two-thirds of people (63%) claim they’d continue shopping at businesses that stay silent about social issues they care about. Slightly fewer people (58%), however, would continue shopping at businesses that take stances on issues they disagree with.

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These findings suggest that although 71% of people want businesses to speak up on social issues, silence may still be the best PR policy for businesses.

This data is from a survey of 420 people who made a purchase within the past 6 months, conducted by B2B ratings and reviews company Clutch.

Key findings include:


  • Consumers want businesses to take stances on social issues related to the environment (89%), human rights (80%), gender (74%), and, to a lesser extent, politics (56%).

  • People are more likely to stop shopping with a company that supports movements related to politics (15%) and gender (10%) compared to human rights (5%) and the environment (2%).

  • Nearly two-thirds of people (63%) say they are likely to continue shopping at businesses that stay silent on issues they care about.

  • More than half of people (58%) say they would continue shopping at businesses that take stances on issues they disagree with.


You can read the full article here: Corporate Social Responsibility in 2019: Social Issues People Expect Businesses to Support.

“The environment and human rights are universal,” said Patrick McCaully, CEO of Pointman News Creation, a public relations agency. “These will always be issues that resonate with people.”

Businesses Should Avoid Political Stances


Political social issues are among the most divisive, according to Clutch’s survey.

People are more likely to stop shopping with a company that supports movements related to politics (15%) and gender (10%) than the environment (2%) and human rights (5%).

According to PR agencies and experts, this is particularly challenging for businesses as the line between what is and isn’t political blurs. Businesses should consider how the issue relates to their brand identity and if it will resonate with their audience.

Silence Can Be Best Option for PR


Regardless if a business decides to speak up or stay silent on controversial social issues, it should be prepared for backlash.

Businesses that stay silent, however, run a lower chance of losing customers than those that take a stance. Nearly two-thirds of people (63%) are likely to continue shopping at businesses that stay silent on issues they care about, while slightly fewer people (58%) say they would continue shopping at businesses that take stances on issues they disagree with.

“You don’t make the decision to jump into a social movement because it's trendy or to generate buzz,” said Scott Hancock, CEO of BLVR branding agency. “You do it because it is a belief the runs through the soul of your brand.”


Businesses Can Use Social Media to Communicate Stances to Customers


Most people (52%) say businesses should communicate stances on social issues through social media. However, businesses risk losing control of the intended message and need to have a well-planned crisis communications strategy in place.

“Once you take a strong position through public relations or social media, it had better be what you believe, can back up, and feel good about as a company because you’re going to open yourself up to criticism," McCaully said.

Clutch’s 2019 PR and Corporate Social Responsibility Survey included 420 U.S. consumers who made a purchase within the last 6 months.

Read the full report here

 

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