More and more consumers would either choose – or avoid – a brand based on its stand on societal issues. Are you the kind of person who puts your money where your heart is? Miami thought leaders share their views.
The number of “belief-driven” consumers is accelerating rapidly. In fact, nearly two-thirds of today’s consumers would either choose, switch to, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues according to the global marketing and communications firm Edelman.
That’s up an astounding 13 points from 2017, thanks – at least in part – to people’s increasing frustration with governmental disfunction. More than half of the survey’s 40,000 respondents said that it’s easier to get brands to address social problems than to get governments to take action. (Download the full report here.)
As a follow-up to a recent article in The Miami Herald, MiamiActivists.org asked a group of Miami thought leaders to weigh-in on two of 2018’s most controversial corporate social activism stands.
The first was Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision – following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – to stop selling assault-style guns completely and to ban the sale of all guns and ammunition to anyone under 21-years old.
The second was Nike’s decision to hire NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a spokesman even after he’d been fired for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
“Both companies’ stands are in line with my own beliefs, so what they’ve done will only strengthen my sense of affiliation with them,” said Bruce Turkel, CEO of a Coral Gables-based brand management firm Turkel Brands and author, most recently, of “All About Them.”
“But that’s only me,” Turkel cautioned. When it comes to the general marketplace, Turkel advises that companies need to make sure that most of their customers either believe in or are neutral toward their social stands. Otherwise, they ought to be prepared for a potentially negative backlash.
“These are edgy decisions,” said Paul Singerman, a civically-engaged attorney and co-chair of the Brickell-based law firm Berger Singerman. “I would love to have had access to their discussions and debates in their respective board rooms.”
“The Dick’s decision resonated with me,” said Singerman. “But I was and remain uncomfortable with the Nike decision to hire Kaepernick.”
Singerman, like others interviewed by MiamiActivists.org, expects corporate social activism to play an increasing role in future purchasing patterns.
In addition to Nike and Dick’s, interviewees praised other companies for their social stands. Airbnb earned applause for their “We Accept” ads after President Trump signed an executive order to close U.S. borders to travelers from certain Muslim countries. Similarly, Lyft’s stand against the Trump administration’s immigration policies prompted some to shift spending away from Uber.
Apple was credited for its insistence on keeping user information safe, while Costco was commended for offering great employee benefits, including healthcare.
Companies that pay higher wages were especially appreciated as well.
“Economic benefits for working class people as a whole is very important to me,” said Neisen Kasdin, managing partner at the Akerman law firm’s Miami office, and a former mayor of Miami Beach.
Leading local interior designer Michael Wolk, praised the Toms shoe company and the Warby Parker eyeglass company for their buy one, give one programs.
National and international firms aren’t the only brands taking a stand.
“Our focus is local,” said Gary Ressler, principal at the Miami-based Tilia Family of companies and president of the Flagler District Business Improvement District. “We are exceedingly conscious of the footprint we are making and actively support local organizations that exemplify our shared values.”
Other local brands are taking a social stand as well, according to Alia Mahmoud, director of leadership development at Radical Partners, which supports organizations addressing social issues.
Mahmoud, who’s also a co-founder of Corporate Responsibility Miami, a new group working to connect local corporate responsibility professionals, pointed out that Univision, which has a large Miami presence, has taken a strong stand on immigrant rights with their #AllForDreamers campaign. And the Venezuelan conglomerate Cisneros, which has significant operations in Miami, supports a variety of social causes including women’s entrepreneurship.
“Corporate social activism is important because these companies have such huge reach and influence,” said Kara Burnstine, who runs Nutrition Your Weigh, a Miami Beach-based wellness company that advocates healthy eating habits. “I do and will continue to support companies that take a stand on social issues,” she said.
Mahmoud of Radical Partners echoed that sentiment, but with a more local twist. “We should be thoughtful about how we spend our money,” she said. “We’re a community. We should support each other.”
Click here to download the Edelman report, “Brands Take a Stand.”