Kellogg’s. Nordstrom. Under Armour. Uber. Budweiser. Amazon. That’s just a partial list of brands that are experiencing social media boycotts after taking stances on “controversial issues.” Some took liberal positions. Some adopted conservative postures. All suffered, at least in the short-term.
The impact of hashtag boycotts can be significant. 57% of executives believe they hurt the bottom line. In some cases, stock prices declined, employees exited, or CEOs altered their political involvement as a result of social media boycotts. Two-thirds of Americans say social posts influence how they perceive specific brands.
Why don’t brands make it easy on themselves and just stay silent? If only it were that simple. Almost half of consumers think companies should take positions on social and political issues. They see it as part of brands being authentic. Many shoppers like to understand an organization’s ethics, and a significant number buy more from brands that share their values. Consumers have been known to call out companies that stay silent on topics they believe are important.
In an increasingly polarized nation, taking a position is risky for brands. Not taking one is risky too. Which risk do you prefer?
Sources: Denver Post 2017, Mashable 2017, Washington Post 2017