CivicScience | Special Report: Americans Very Divided on Brands’ Engagement With Social Issues

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Special Report: Americans Very Divided on Brands’ Engagement With Social Issues

Image Credit: Photo by Rosemary Ketchum from Pexels

 

Across communication channels – be it social media, email, press releases, or something else entirely – brands of all stripes have made official statements regarding the current demonstrations occurring throughout the nation and the issues at hand. In response, CivicScience researched – through a broad lens – sentiment among the general population for companies choosing to publicly engage with social issues. The goal of this published study is to provide topline data on consumer input on general appropriateness of companies engaging with these issues, advisability in them doing so, and specific actions the population thinks companies should or should not take, plus a few key demographic insights.

Appropriateness

In a study of 2,600 respondents weighted by U.S. Census 18+, opinion of appropriateness of such public engagements by companies is varied. Just about one-third of American adults (34%) at least somewhat agree (very and somewhat appropriate combined) that these statements on social issues by companies are appropriate. However, 31% deem doing so not at all appropriate, and another 35% say it really depends on the issue.

While slight variances exist across age groups in terms of deemed level of appropriateness, it’s – perhaps surprisingly – somewhat even. Americans 65 and older are more likely than their counterparts to say appropriateness depends on the issue. Those under 25 are the most likely to say addressing these issues publicly is very appropriate, and those aged 45-64 under-index in thinking it’s very appropriate. But again, the shape of the data among the four age brackets is not so different. 

Women are less likely than men to deem these engagements by companies as not at all appropriate, but they’re also more likely to say it depends on the issue.

Advisability 

When explicitly asking just more than 2,800 adult respondents if companies should engage with social issues, 24% say yes, 34% say no, and the majority say it depends on the issue.

Younger generations lean more towards an adamant yes. Interestingly, those aged 25-44 and 45-64 are the most likely to say no.

Women are more likely to say it depends on the issue than men are. Men are much more likely to answer that companies should not.

Action by Companies

Overall, Americans are most likely to believe companies choosing to donate to relevant organizations or charities is an appropriate way for them to engage with these sorts of issues, followed by public-service advertising. Only 10% of adults support companies using lobbying methods to engage in social issues.

Americans are all over the map in terms of what companies should weigh in and when. The high percentage of respondents answering it depends on the issue is indicative that personal values regarding specific issues would ultimately sway their support on companies speaking out on any given matter.

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