Can you think of a brand off the top of your head that supports a cause that some or most view as controversial? Besides us, of course. We already know we make people uncomfortable.
Owning and running a business is challenging in and of itself. It’s so tough that 50% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years.
So why would you, a business owner, make the odds even worse by being outspoken about women’s rights, LGBTQ+, the Me Too Movement, pay equity, etc.? CEOs and owners worry that speaking out will affect their bottom line and isolate customers. However, choosing to remain silent can also have a negative effect.
Embrace What Matters
The well-known clothing brand American Eagle has embraced issues such as gun control and gay rights. They don’t shy away from using their robust social media presence to encourage their younger customer base to get involved in advocacy.
A Fast Company article explains that the company’s decision to support the progressive causes of its target audience (ages 15 to 25) did not come casually.
While American Eagle has been doing focus groups and customer surveys for decades, the company now says its data science and analytics teams helped bolster its move to support causes—as do its Gen Z employees who are tasked with steering executives away from ideas that may be off-putting to their peers.
Listen to Customers
Understanding your customer base is key in determining the right move for your company. The millennial generation is shaping the behavior of brands, and they are demanding action.
A study by the PR agency, Weber Shandwick, found that 47 percent of millennials think CEOs should speak up and take active stances on social issues. Some 51 percent of millennials surveyed said they are more likely to buy products from companies that have activist CEOs. Another study by Cone Communications shows that 91 percent of millennials will switch brands to one associated with a cause.
Take a Stand
You have to do what is best for your culture, employees and customers. Companies don’t make the conscious choice to alienate a customer; however, the current political environment will sometimes dictate otherwise. Should part of your marketing strategy involve speaking up for your company’s values? At the end of the day, if remaining silent is impacting sales, hurting retention and attraction, or your conscience, then take a stand and speak up. If you need help communicating your values to your customers, you’re in luck. Contact us. Our team would love to help you tell the world what your company stands for.