In 2018, it can seem like a brand expressing a political or social opinion can be equivalent to stepping on a minefield. On Twitter and beyond, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Backlash can come quickly from either side of the political aisle. Our clients are increasingly asking us for guidance on when their brands should take a stand, and which areas are no fly zones.
To help answer this, we launched an initiative examining polarization in America. So, what social issues do consumers want brands to talk about?
Two “safe” topics appear in the top four answers across all ethnicities: cultural diversity and environmental laws. But beyond these common themes, an intuitive yet important insight emerges: demographics actually drive most of the issues that consumers want brands to activate on.
For example, cultural diversity is significantly more important to Hispanics and African-Americans. Racial tension is also a higher priority topic for these two segments. Meanwhile, immigration laws are the second most important issues for both Hispanic and Asian ethnicities.
White consumers reflect an emerging split, with notably less agreement about what issues to activate on. Their leading topic, environmental laws, falls below the 4th highest topic in terms of agreement for Hispanic consumers. The split is even clearer when we look at urban/suburban versus rural consumers. Gun rights leads the pack for rural consumers (who skew non-Hispanic White). By contrast, cultural diversity is more important for city dwellers, regardless of ethnicity.
An important question remains. Which categories have “permission” to take a stand on these issues? The answers are less obvious.
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