The Wall Street Journal reports that "consumers’ desire for companies to weigh in on current events and sociopolitical topics has fallen as brands such as Bud Light increasingly find themselves caught in the culture war crossfire, according to new research conducted by Gallup and Bentley University.
"Forty-one percent of Americans say businesses in general should take stances on current events, down from 48% last year, with declines found across age and ethnic groups, according to the survey."
More context from the story:
"Below the top line, however, the survey’s findings illustrate the increasing complexity that marketers face in navigating a divided society. They also hint at opportunities for businesses to meet consumers’ growing demands in other areas, experts say.
"Gallup also found, for example, that most young, Black and Asian consumers still want brands to speak out on issues that matter to them. And a majority of respondents overall said businesses should speak out on the specific issues of climate change and mental health.
"Religion, abortion, political candidates and international conflict were particularly verboten, on the other hand, with fewer than 30% saying brands should address these topics.
"Rather than speaking out on issues, respondents said they wanted companies to make a positive impact by providing employees with fair wages and quality healthcare benefits, avoiding major pay gaps between chief executives and lower-level employees, and operating in an environmentally sustainable way.
"Eighty-eight percent of respondents said businesses have some power or a great degree of power to make a positive impact on people’s lives. But only 8% believe they have been extremely effective in doing so, with 50% saying they have been somewhat effective."
- KC's View:
At a time of economic uncertainty, it isn't really a surprise that people are less focused on companies' sociopolitical positions.
But four out of ten people apparently do - and that isn't a small number. It seems as possible that the number will go up as it will go down, and so companies should not get complacent.
My feeling always has been that companies should only get involved in sociopolitical when it feels authentic and necessary to do so. But when the conditions are appropriate, because issues have impact on their employees and customers, they definitely should not avoid taking stands, because that also could seem inauthentic.
The big thing to avoid is epistemic closure - you cannot always assume that the world is the way you want it to be, or as you've always assumed that it is. And you have to have someone at the table whose job is to pay attention to these issues and help craft responses - and that person needs to be someone who reflects different life experiences than the rest of the people around the table.