Brands: Stand For Something, But Don’t Focus on the Bottom Line

Standing for something blog post

Brands: Stand For Something, But Don’t Focus on the Bottom Line

Consumers are increasingly looking for brands to take a clear stand on things like social justice, as well as using their relative power for the greater good. But making a misstep can be disastrous when facing intense scrutiny from an overwrought audience that is already facing high stress in nearly all aspects of life. Alter Agents CEO Rebecca Brooks discusses this dynamic in her latest article for Forbes, titled “Brands: Stand For Something, But Don’t Focus On The Bottom Line.”

Consumers Prefer Socially-Conscious Brands

In the new piece, Rebecca references an article she wrote last year about brands taking a stand – “way back when things were ‘normal.’” While the basic premises remain true today, the fact is that we are all operating in a very different ecosystem than we were a few short months ago. The second wave of our Facing Fear research series on consumer anxiety, conducted in June 2020, shows data that differs from our original research in December 2019.


When we just pull out data surrounding consumer expectations from their brands, we found a “13% increase over the last six months in respondents who said they liked it when brands commented on social justice issues.” While this increase included all races, we saw the largest shift from our Black respondents with a full two-thirds saying that they appreciated brands taking a stance. 


Rebecca writes that even though examining a brand’s values during the consideration process doesn’t outweigh the continued importance of price and quality (according to our respondents), it is something that can no longer be ignored. “Influential populations are looking for their brands of choice to take a clear stance on issues that are important to them…When brands seek to understand their markets’ needs, this has to be a part of the conversation.”

Taking Action with Authenticity

Making a move to stand up for important issues must be backed up with solid consumer research, so brands can understand how to communicate with and best serve their important audiences. Rebecca concludes, “Those in leadership positions must first ask themselves what their brand stands for and be clear about what is important to them as a company, as well as decide who they want as their customers.” Only then can a brand “take concrete, lasting action and share it with consumers who are eager to see their brands be the leaders they are seeking.”


Our Facing Fear Research Series

Drawing on world-class analysis from researchers at Alter Agents and commentary by thought leaders in economics, political science, and psychology, this reporting series is a must-read to understand the consumer mindset entering the second year of the pandemic.

Facing Fear: Understanding Anxious Consumers
Facing Fear: Consumer Anxiety in 2020
Facing Fear: Overcoming Consumer Anxiety

Interested in having thoughtful research like this conducted to answer your business challenges?


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