Brands That Take a Position on Controversial Issues Drive Positive Social Engagement and Purchase Intent, According to Toluna and Unmetric

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Brands benefit from new followers and potential customers, but also risk alienating existing customers when taking a contentious social or political stance

Toluna, leading provider of consumer insights for the on-demand economy, and Unmetric, an enterprise solution for branded content analysis and discovery, today released new research and data on consumer reaction to brands taking a stance on controversial issues. Based on consumer responses gathered from Toluna’s QuickSurveys platform and social data from Unmetric’s Analyze platform, the research reveals interesting insights into how consumers react when brands weigh in on social or political topics and measures the impact of past branded content around such issues.

Toluna and Unmetric decided to partner for this comprehensive research in order to examine and compare instances of both self-reported beliefs and behavioral intent and the observed behavior of general consumers on social media. While the consumers that responded to the survey were not necessarily the same consumers represented in the social media analysis, the goal was to identify any significant patterns or similarities across the qualitative and quantitative data.

Key Findings from Toluna’s 2018 Survey on Brands Taking A Stand:
-33% said they would actively buy more goods or services from a brand they already purchase from if that brand took a stance on a controversial political/social issue that aligned with their beliefs
-26% said they would be willing to pay a higher price for a product that aligns with their beliefs versus an alternative less expensive brand
-22% said they would get rid of a brand’s products that they already own if that brand took a stance on a controversial political/social issue counter to their beliefs

Key Findings from Unmetric’s 2018 Data Analysis on Brands’ Social Media Campaigns:
-Nike added 30 times more Twitter followers on the day the ‘Colin K’ ad campaign debuted compared to its daily average and saw 312 times more @-mentions by users on Twitter.
-Patagonia added 19 times more fans on Facebook on the day it debuted ‘The President Stole Your Land’ campaign compared to its daily average. On Facebook, the 8,200 people that commented on Patagonia's post spoke most frequently about "Obama", "Trump", "money" and "business".
-Airbnb saw 17 times more @-mentions by users on Twitter on the day the ‘We Accept’ ad campaign debuted compared to its daily average and the post was shared 438 more times than its average. On Facebook, the 9,770 people that commented on the post had good things to say, with words like "beautiful", "love", "amen" and "acceptance" among the most used in the comments.

The research also uncovered insights into consumers’ inclination to boycott, with 45% saying they are currently boycotting a brand that took a stance on controversial issues that ran counter to their beliefs.

Toluna’s Research Methodology
Toluna surveyed 1,000 people in the US between the ages of 18 and 55+ to gauge opinions on brands taking a stance on controversial political and social issues. The survey collected insights on purchase intent and consumers’ behavior on social media when brands take a stance on these issues.

Unmetric’s Research Methodology
Unmetric used its Analyze platform to examine the impact of previous campaigns where brands took a stance on a controversial political or social issue. Unmetric evaluated user engagement and metrics before and after the brands posted content to their social channels. The brand content analyzed came from: Nike, Patagonia, Airbnb, PayPal, Ben & Jerry’s, and YoPlait.

About Toluna
Toluna provides consumer insights designed to empower success in today's on-demand, global economy. Powered by the perfect fusion of technology, expertise, and the largest global community of influencers at the ready, Toluna delivers rich, reliable, real-time insights to individuals, and companies of all sizes.

Our automated consumer insights platform, TolunaInsights™ underpins everything we do. Clients can access the platform directly, leverage Toluna’s managed services, or create fully-customized digital consumer insights programs via our engineered services.

Toluna is committed to promoting Insights on Demand, an entirely new way for businesses to obtain insight and understand constantly shifting consumer sentiment and taste in the on-demand economy. Toluna is a founding member of the Insights on Demand Consortium, a multi-lateral group that's advancing the principles and adoption of Insights on Demand. The company has 24 offices globally spanning Europe, North America, South America, Asia Pacific, and MENA.

About Unmetric
Unmetric helps brands and agencies get better engagement, more certainty, and faster reporting on their social media efforts. The company’s enterprise platform enables digital marketers to research, plan and optimize branded social content, and analysts to report on learnings to create more engaging content. Hundreds of global brands and digital agencies including American Airlines, The Chicago Bulls, Tiffany & Co., General Motors, GroupM, and Ogilvy use Unmetric’s AI-powered insights from the owned channels of over 100,000 qualified brands across more than 30 sectors on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Founded in 2011, Unmetric is headquartered in New York City with offices in Chennai, India and the U.S. For more information, visit

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Nicole Peinado