The modern consumer holds a world of information at their fingertips. They can research companies to the finest minute detail—including working conditions and the CEO’s latest political contributions. Younger generations hold companies accountable, and want to make purchases with those who uphold an authentically purposeful agenda surrounding their products and promotion.
It’s sometimes difficult for brands to make a difference with their CSR efforts. For brands on a budget, it’s even more difficult to gain a foothold in philanthropy. FleishmanHillard’s Judith Rowland proposes brands with more modest funds look to fill unmet needs. And there are plenty, she argues.
There’s been a generational and cultural shift toward activism over the last few decades, as consumers call for more organic and open conversations about CSR from businesses. With this, the spirit of reversing capitalism-induced environmental and social damage has also become a trend in marketing. And millennials are largely the ones driving the shift.
Companies like Nike and Ben & Jerry’s have demonstrated the power of brand activism in marketing. With consumer expectations shifting in a tumultuous political environment, what happens when a brand decides to take a neutral approach? Online home furnishing company Wayfair is right now finding out the hard way.
If “purpose” is to last as one of PR’s top buzzwords, brands need to step up their game. Already in the past few weeks we’ve seen Nike forced to adjust its purpose concerning treatment of pregnant spokespeople. Now Google, which espouses free speech, among other lofty values, is warning staff there will be repercussions should they protest as Google employees during this weekend’s Pride festivities in San Francisco. Apparently for Google, free speech has its limits.
Taking a stand or promoting a cause is important for brands, which want to identify with their target audience and its beliefs. Unfortunately, some brands view events such as Pride month or International Women’s Day purely as profit-making opportunities. Here are three tips brands need to embrace so they can be seen as promoting activism not slacktivism.
Operating with purpose must be the lens through which every business decision is made, argues WE’s global CEO and founder Melissa Waggener Zorkin. While sticking to your values isn’t easy, the consequences of ignoring today’s societal issues are much greater. She offers highlights from recent research about purpose that aim to help communicators and leaders.
The opioid epidemic has touched one in three Americans, a new survey from NPR and Ipsos shows. In addition, pharma’s narrative about its role in the epidemic has failed to resonate with a significant majority of the American public. What steps should industry communicators take to rehabilitate pharma’s reputation with the public? Crisis communications provides a possible option.
There’s more research showing CSR is no longer a nice-to-have, writes Judith Rowland of FleishmanHillard. Consumers expect brands to take stands on social issues or risk losing their business. And brands must walk the walk. The research found that 47 percent of engaged customers are less or not at all likely to purchase from companies whose business practices are inconsistent with their CSR promises.
With PR News’ CSR and Nonprofit Awards luncheon coming March 15, we look at two brands taking stands, though they do so with different philosophies and strategies.