A familiar challenge for brands today is to gain the trust and loyalty of the centennials. It is often like playing the classic game of Minesweeper, one wrong move and KABOOM! The whole field has exploded.
The new generation, of socially aware and active netizens, is highly reactive and has extremely low tolerance for any wrong or misrepresented facts. To be honest, they are pushing brands into ethical practices and using their standing to support causes. One may even call them the crusaders and harbingers of social change.
On the plus side, it is now easier for brands to connect with their audience and have a conversation. Through the medium of activism, brands are better able to connect with their audience. Any promotion or campaign receives an instant reaction and opens the channels of dialogue.
Hence, more and more brands are riding on the wave of activism for a better relationship with their audience. Many brands have received massive support and love in the past for their advocacy of social matters. This also resulted in consumers preferring the brand over others. However, one must be weary of hypocrisy and opportune marketing. The trend report on brand activism puts red flags on these two aspects.
The last month witnessed two uproaring movements on national and international turf. Black Lives Matter was a massive movement supported by netizens across the globe. Quite naturally, to retain the love of their audience, many brands and celebrities too extended their support. Some however, did not receive a positive response and were criticized for being a hypocrite. Celebrities who featured in fairness cream ads were called out and lost followers on their social media for the dichotomy.
A well-known clothing brand in America too took the heat of being a hypocrite and lost a walloping number of customers and recorded drop in sales. Their story- as soon as they posted on their social media handles on Black Lives Matter; they were called out by an ex-employee for conducting trainings on racial profiling and having a code name for black shoppers that all employees were instructed to follow.
Similarly, the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput triggered the debate of nepotism in industries beyond entertainment. The accused celebs for promoting nepotism have been on the receiving end and are rampantly losing their followers. Brands that were associated with those celebrities had to distance themselves from them to avoid being the collateral damage.
So, what is the navigation through this tricky maze? Keep it simple and honest. Define the core values of your brand and what causes do you truly support. Be mindful of your brand’s track record and if there is a gray area, best to avoid it. Hypocrisy and gap between thought and practice can be detrimental to a brand’s image and standing.
Also, it’s not necessary to contribute to all trending causes and movements. In the past, many brands have faced backlash for being opportune and insensitive for promoting their offer codes in the face of adversity.
The mantra is simple- be honest and be modest! Lend your voice but do so carefully!
Authored by Evita Shekhar Sood