Almost 80% of Australians believe brands should use their power to impact social and professional inequality in the real world, according to new research by Nine and cultural analysis agency FiftyFive5.
As conflict in Ukraine rages and culture wars dominate climate change and LGBTQIA+ rights, marketers are facing increasing pressure from consumers to have their brands seen as playing an activist role in a series of social problems.
The research, which explores the influence of brands as champions of change and whether taking a stand is as good for profits as it is for society, shows that 63% of Australians believe brands can drive climate change, and 54% of respondents believe that brands can be a positive force for job creation.
“We’ve noticed for some time now that consumers have increased the role that trusted brands play in our daily lives,” said Nine’s Director of Ideas and Strategy, Toby Boon.
“In the absence of what many Australians see as proactive change from the government on issues ranging from climate change to inequality, consumers are looking to brands to lead the charge for a better society. , they hold the brands higher than ever, and authenticity is key.
According to the study, consumers are looking beyond the brand to the company, with Australians demanding that a company’s internal policies reflect the values presented in its brand marketing.
Set in a deeply decisive landscape, almost all Australians are on the same page with their expectations of how Australian businesses can operate, with 87% expecting brands to operate ethically, 81 % expect brands to be socially responsible and 79% expect brands to tackle inequalities at work.
The issues people believe are closest to home are the rising cost of living (60%), climate change (51%), healthcare (40%) and the economy (39%). %). This is why consumers are agitating for the activism of the brands they touch.
Michael Newtondirector of cultural forecasting at FiftyFive5, said consumers now expect brands to take a stand on issues.
“We conducted research with a national representation of Australians to reveal the level of involvement brands can have in addressing some of this country’s larger social cultural issues,” she said.
“We’ve learned that consumers not only want brands to participate in issues like workplace equality and climate change, but they’re also expected to take a stand and do better on a variety of issues. .”
With nearly one in two consumers wanting to see brands engage in activities that would raise awareness of a particular social issue, companies that don’t take a stand can feel the impact.
Nowhere is this more visible than in top Gen Z and Gen X consumer targets, with these generations overwhelmingly (62% Z; 57% X) determined to deny custom to companies that don’t support not LGBTQIA+ rights.
“Brands that want to take a stand on a cause or campaign on an issue should follow six key steps,” Boon said. “Align your internal policies with your external positions, identify the issues most relevant to your brand and your consumers, back up your position with actions, commit to the long term, be authentic and own up to your past mistakes.
“Brand activism is not new, but the transparency has to be there. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and provided they’re authentic, brands can go from being a commodity to something much more ethereal and meaningful that impacts our world and the future. of our children.
The research conducted by Powered and FiftyFive5 is part of Powered’s cultural conversation series featured at the Big Idea Store during today’s session, The Revolution will be Advertised, which will be held from 11am-12pm.