Should retailers brag about doing good?
Younger generations appear to be split on whether brands and retailers should be promoting their eco- or socially-conscious credentials.
According to a survey from early January of more than 2,200 U.S. adults from Morning Consult and PRWeek, 41 percent of Millennials like it when brands show off their commitment to issues that go beyond their own bottom line, while 39 percent think companies are trying too hard to make it look like they care. Gen Z respondents are equally split on the issue.
Older generations are more cynical. Some 46 percent of Baby Boomers and 42 percent of Gen X feel that companies “try too hard” in such cases versus 35 percent of Boomers and 33 percent of Gen X who like brands that “show off their commitment.” In the past, Boomers and Gen Xers had regularly called out the practice of “greenwashing” in which companies were accused of exaggerating their eco-friendly efforts.
On politics, most respondents to the survey (53 percent) said companies should “stick to what they do” and not get involved in “political or cultural matters,” while 26 percent said companies should use their influence to sway such matters.
Yet, those sentiments soften among younger generations. Only 39 percent of Gen Zers believe companies should “stick to what they do” versus 46 percent of Millennials, 51 percent of Gen X and 63 percent of Boomers.
Equal pay lands among the safer topics with 74 percent of all respondents either “strongly” or “somewhat” supportive of brands discussing the topic. Other safer topics include healthcare access, 71 percent; the environment, 70 percent; women’s rights, 67 percent; and racism, 66 percent. Less safe topics appear to be climate change, 56 percent; immigrant rights, 51 percent; gun control, 50 percent; and Donald Trump, 37 percent.
The findings come as other surveys show consumers increasingly linking their purchasing decisions to brands’ social responsibility efforts:
- According to the 20th annual Edelman Trust Barometer, 64 percent of respondents identified themselves as “belief-driven buyers.”
- Fifty-three percent of Millennials are willing to pay a premium of 10 percent or more for socially responsible brands, according to Roth Capital Partners’ 2020 Millennial Survey.
- Brands Should Be Wary of Bragging About Doing the Right Thing, Polling Shows – Morning Consult
- Should Brands Brag About Doing Good? – MarketingCharts
- ROTH Capital Partners Releases its 2020 Millennial Survey – ROTH Capital Partners
- 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How loudly should retailers and brands talk about their sustainability or other do-good efforts? How, if at all, should they seek to benefit from consumers’ apparent desire to reward companies for their corporate social responsibility efforts?