How Brands Can Break Through a Polarized America

With the rise of multiculturalism and a chaotic political climate, brands have found themselves in a tough balancing act. Often, they need to decide if they should stay on the sidelines or take action, at the risk of becoming a punchline.

As part Boosting ROI with Insights that Break Through a Polarized America, we explore the current climate in the US at a high level. The study equips brands to understand the perceptions of division and how they should move forward.

The analysis provides tips on when consumers are okay with brands commenting socially, and important things to keep in mind when activating in this climate.

Polarization Attitudes

Since the election, multicultural consumers have become less proud to live in America and more cognizant of national division, though there are important nuances on how this manifests across multicultural segments.

There’s also a real divide among non-Hispanic white consumers in attitudes about polarization,  revealed by our Cultural Fluency framework.

We find that white consumers have a more positive outlook on the future direction of the country, while multicultural consumers are active optimists, who feel like they can  make it better.


Consumer Expectations from Brands

  • Most consumers (but especially multicultural ones) believe that brands have an obligation to express that they are inclusive.
  • Taking a stand comes in many forms, but it doesn’t always elicit meaningful change in consumer behavior.  Interestingly, inaction is a common response. This hold true for both conservative and liberal stances taken by brands.
  • African American and Hispanic consumers want brands to talk about multiculturalism, and react negatively to anti-multicultural stances.

There is likely no end in sight to our current fractured cultural and political landscape. Therefore it’s critical to understand where your brand sits in the broader cultural narrative. Knowing this helps define where your brand has permission to play, and your broader brand purpose. From there, it’s easier to create successful activations on social topics.

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