Peril for brands in politics: research

Most consumers dislike brands that get involved in politics, and are more likely to avoid brands that take a negative position than to support those that take a positive position.

These are the findings from research by the 4A’s, an advertising trade association, and researchers SSRS, who conducted two surveys to uncover US consumers’ and ad agency professionals’ beliefs about brands taking political or social stances.

67% of ad agency staff believe that changing American values are causing brands to become more interested in corporate responsibility and values-based marketing. However, they drew a distinction in between brands taking political stances versus social ones: 33% believe brands are more wary of taking political stance than a social one (14%).  Likewise, they said brands are more “compelled” to take a social stance (26%) than a political one (7%).

When it comes to consumers, 58% don’t like brands getting political. They not only avoid brands that take a negative political stance (eg. being racist, sexist or anti-LGBTQ), they are also less prone to support those taking a positive stance (eg. inclusive, pro-LGBTQ and feminist).

Alison Fahey, chief marketing officer of the 4A’s, said “There’s typically more risk than benefit.  Brands taking a negative approach risk backlash, and only a small percentage of consumers are moved to buy from positive messaging.”

When it comes to political endorsements of brands, about half of consumers (51%) said that President Trump’s policies had made companies and brands more vocal and inclined to take action.

However, the Presidential endorsements are generally not positively impacting most consumers’ purchasing decisions.  In fact, a quarter of consumers (22%) say they are less likely to purchase products he endorses, and 74% said it had zero impact on their purchasing decisions.

You can read more about the 4A’s survey here.

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