WHEN CONSUMERS BECOME ACTIVIST

Research has shown that majority of consumers will boycott a brand because its position on a social or political issue , and it is no longer ok for brands to sit on the side-lines when it comes to issues their customers care about.

Brand safety and polarisation

Brand safety has become a huge concern for advertisers in recent years, as social media has become a hotbed of polarization and misinformation, especially in chaotic moments.

In India after a backlash on social media, which saw #BoycottTanishq trending on Twitter. The ad for Tanishq’s new collection called Ekatvam – which means ‘oneness’ had to be pulled down.

In the US after the Capitol Hill riots advertisers paused media spends.

Brand managers need to think ahead of the impact of every communication and at times they will be forced to take positions.

Post COVID changes in marketing and communication

Consumers look upto brands for being more conscious and compassionate. We recently saw how a founder of the large vaccine manufacturer in India was trolled for the pricing strategy communication.

Making profits at the cause of human lives is not seen in good light . Exploiting an opportunity in crisis is not ok and there would be a consumer backlash on the brand.

Organisations that treat their employees with care in testing times are valued by consumers and also employees.

Climate change and impact on Brands

Pre-pandemic , the world was in the middle of a shift from conspicuous consumption to conscious consumption . The pandemic has only accelerated this ark . Organic food market has grown and this trend will grow as people focus on their health and well-being. Vegan lifestyle is another trend that seeks compassion towards animals and is also seen as a health trend with many celebrities adopting this compassionate lifestyle.

Brands that pollute our environment and promote conspicuous consumption that is detrimental to our planet will not be appreciated by consumers. Climate change impacts are being witnessed across the world and this is now an Urgent topic for consumers.

Foods that are seen as unhealthy are being challenged in various ways by consumers. We see the rise of films that expose such brands and unhealthy fast food industry and their impact on our health on OTT platforms and on YouTube.

Shift to Purpose Driven Brands

Health- focused is only part of the Conscious Consumer . Consumers have been trending towards purpose driven and ethical brands. The trend towards sustainable, ethical and purpose driven will only continue.

CSR and Marketing will come together

Corporate Social Responsibility and Marketing will no longer be two different teams with different mandates . Social responsibility will be part of marketing stories of brands. Brands are expected to go beyond just being profit making entities they are valued based on the commitment to the communities they work in .

The Tata companies in India are respected for always keeping people beyond profits and nation building before the organisation. These are iconic brands that have built Trust over the years.

Exploiting vulnerabilities

Brands that exploit a vulnerable segment for profit will have to face the music from consumers as was experienced by an edutech brand that exploited parents from poor sections of the community with expensive courses through sales and marketing miscommunication.

On top of that it was getting accounts blocked of voices of dissent across social platforms. To the extent that the brand filed a defamation case against someone who exposed its malpractices.

The brand was heavily trolled and finally had to withdraw its case. Only profit and valuation will not help when consumers become activist .

To build a long term and sustainable brand ethical practices are essential.

Today every consumer is a potential activist with his / her own broadcast channel . Brands will need to wake up to a new more conscious world.

Author: Sanjay Mudnaney

My favourite line is "Don't die with your song in your heart". Being aligned to Your 'Truth' is being in Integrity of existence. The future of Life and Work is being in Integrity. I believe that it is time for passion economy as a new world emerges where location does not matter , organisations and people will seek out passionate individuals who are living their calling and making a difference in our world. Experiments in Integrity and Future of Marketing are two themes around which I will share my thoughts . I am on a journey to explore being in Integrity with my 'Truth.'

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