We're entering a new era of consumer activism as a result of societal divisions, a lack of distrust in once trusted institutions such as media and the mainstreaming of peer to peer information sharing enabled through social media. But how far should brands go to take a stance?
Source: Vanity Fair
The answer to this question is as complex as the issue itself. For some brands, it's a matter of public perception, for others— a matter of principle and for others, it means aligning the values of their brand with the values of their consumers:
Taking a Stance Is Not Without Risk
This Sunday, Budweiser will be airing an ad that takes on the issue of immigration head on. It does so in a powerful and emotive way—tying it to to its heritage and making the case that the brand would not be what it is today without immigration.
Source: The Virginian Pilot
Budweiser's message for what they stand for and believe in is clear—but the question left unanswered at this point is how the message will resonate with the millions of consumers who have affinity for the brand. Will some cheer the move while others feel alienated by it? Will the typical Budweiser consumer appreciate the not so subtle stance? For every action there is a reaction which prompts a response from brands and for Budweiser, what's yet to be seen is the full reaction to their message.
Balancing Consumer With Brand Activism
If we're seeing a perfect storm for consumer activism, then by logic the cause and effect becomes a form of brand activism. And this is where brands will need to do a gut check on their values and the alignment with the values of their consumers. Much like how social sentiment and search engines provided indicators for what people REALLY thought about Donald Trump—brands will have to have the finger on the pulse of their core consumers now more than ever. The stakes could not be any higher for the relationship between consumer and brand.