From Racial Equality to Gun Reform to Environmental Impact, Young Adult Americans Want To Shop with Brands That Can “Walk the Walk” When it Comes to Key Social Issues

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According to a new study from Zappi, seven in 10 respondents ages 18-34 say that a brand’s public support of a key social issue directly influenced them to shop with that brand for the first time within the past year, while two in five say that a brand’s lack of public support of a key social issue directly influenced them to stop shopping with that brand.

“Right now is not the time to ‘wait and see’ how certain events play out or how other brands react. For the sake of their customers, employees and other stakeholders, brands need to ensure they show support for meaningful causes, and do so in an authentic way". Ryan Barry, president at Zappi.

On the heels of Juneteenth, as Pride Month continues, with gun legislation in the works after recent shootings, and an official Supreme Court opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade on the horizon, there is no shortage of topical social issues for brands to currently navigate. According to new research from Zappi, the leading consumer insights platform for creators, it’s now more important than ever for brands to stand up for key social issues in a genuine way, because not only can supporting these causes be the right thing to do, it often helps the bottom line as well.

The survey, which asked a representative audience of 1,500 adults over 18 across the U.S. about their thoughts and attitudes in relation to brands’ approach to topical social issues and events, found that many Americans would like to see more brands publicly support key social issues, and that they were rewarding those that do and moving on from those that don’t.

“Right now is not the time to ‘wait and see’ how certain events play out or how other brands react or participate," said Ryan Barry, president at Zappi. “For the sake of their customers, employees and other stakeholders, brands need to ensure that they’re showing their support for meaningful causes, and doing so in an authentic way.”

Social issues Americans would like to see more brands publicly support:

  • Environmental impact & sustainability: 47%
  • Racial equality: 45%. Percentages are higher among some minority groups (e.g., Black: 61%, Asian: 52%) than whites (39%)
  • Gun reform: 38%
  • A woman’s right to choose (abortion): 36%. Women are more passionate (41%) than men (31%)
  • LGBTQ+ issues: 27%. The percentage is much higher among those in the LGBTQ+ community (58%) than heterosexual respondents (23%)

Consumers want vocal brands that actually “walk the walk”

  • 45% of respondents say that companies have a responsibility to speak out on key social issues, while 35% say that it depends on the specific issue.
  • Over half (52%) of respondents say they are more likely to support brands that take social action that aligns with their views over those that do not.
  • Two thirds of respondents (67%) say that brands’ public statements in support of key societal issues impacts their perception of the companies making them either positively or very positively.
  • If a brand’s public statement in support of a key social issue isn’t followed by action (e.g., supporting a related non-profit, volunteering, financial support, etc.), nearly two in four respondents (38%) say that impacts their view of the brand either negatively or very negatively.

How brands’ support for key social issues impacts consumer shopping behaviors:

  • Over half (56%) of respondents said that a brand’s public support of a key social issue directly influenced them to shop with that brand for the first time within the past year, with many respondents becoming repeat customers. Shopped with a new brand 1 time: 20% / 2 to 5 times: 30% / 6+ times: 6%
  • Younger generations are more likely to be impacted, as the percentage of those who say that a brand’s public support of a key social issue directly influenced them to shop with that brand for the first time within the past year starts steadily decreases from young to old: 18-24: 75%; 25-34: 67%; 35-44: 56%; 45-54: 45%; 55-64: 30%; 65+: 16%
  • Conversely, a third of respondents (33%) said that a brand’s lack of public support of a key social issue directly influenced them to stop shopping with that brand in the past year. Again, there was a direct correlation with age: 18-24: 39%; 25-34: 39%; 35-44: 34%; 45-54: 29%; 55-64: 18%; 65+: 17%
  • While some (37%) think it’s appropriate for brands to have Juneteenth sales or refer to Juneteenth in their advertising (40%), a quarter of respondents (25%) said they have felt less of a brand as a result of their commercialization of Juneteenth. And the percentage was higher for Black respondents (31%).

No more rainbow washing – efforts to reach marginalized communities needs to be authentic

  • When a brand creates a Pride Month-themed product, only 18% of respondents believe it’s driven by genuine support for the LGBTQ+ community, while 39% believe it’s to drive profit, and 34% believe that it’s both – to drive profit and genuine support.
  • Nearly half of all respondents (48%) and 65% of those from the LGBTQ+ community believe that Pride Month-themed products have a positive impact on visibility for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • In relation to products tied to Pride Month, Juneteenth, etc., 45% of all respondents and 61% of those from the LGBTQ+ community think it is important that these products are designed or created by individuals belonging to a corresponding marginalized population.
  • In the past year, 38% of all respondents (and 60% of those from the LGBTQ+ community) have noticed a brand that appeared to publicly celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, but did things to contradict that support. Of those, 37% said it negatively affected their view of the brand, and 27% said they stopped shopping with the brand.

ABOUT THE RESEARCH:
Zappi surveyed a nationally representative audience of adults over 18 in the U.S. via the Zappi platform.

ABOUT ZAPPI:
Zappi is the leading consumer insights enterprise platform designed for creators. If you're part of a team that creates brands, ads or innovative new products, then we think you're a creator. With Zappi, you get access to actionable, quick and smart data for creators to amplify your creative effectiveness and shape winning innovation. Inspire your ideas and validate your creations so you can create something people love. To find out more, visit https://www.zappi.io/web/.

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