Support for corporate activism grew among younger consumers in the wake of the 2020 killing of George Floyd, and sentiments have stayed that way, according to Joanna Piacenza, head of industry intelligence at Morning Consult. Among millennials and Gen Z, 41% say corporations should use their influence to impact political and corporate issues, up from 27% in 2019. Support among Gen X and baby boomers is also growing but remains well below 50%—just 17% of boomers are supportive, with support among Gen X is at 23%.
For marketers speaking to a broad audience, this presents a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. But the report also outlines what issues consumers care about the most: often what’s happening internally at a company.
Also read: What Gen Z marketers want from their employers
It’s what’s on the inside that counts
Across generations, how a company treats its employees and customers is a paramount issue. The report found that roughly 9 in 10 Americans said that it’s important that companies they buy from take care of their employees, have products readily available, and always do what’s best for customers, even in challenging times.
The data showed that internal company actions resonated with customers more than external advocacy —71% of consumers said they viewed a company as more favorable if they paid their employees well; 69% said they viewed a company as more favorable if a company was known to be a place where employees liked to work; 66% liked if the company paid men and women equally; 65% liked if it made goods in America; and 60% cared if the company supported the U.S. military.
“There is a ‘keeping your own house in order’ feel that consumers have toward brands,” Piacenza said. “Brands should be doing more to show their benefits or highlight why their employees are happy. Treating workers well is its own form of good advertising because then you aren’t risking an angry employee going viral about you online.”
The actions with the least impact on a brand’s favorability included supporting the Me Too movement, advocating for gay rights, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, advocating for transgender rights and advocating for stricter abortion policies.