Most marketers have started to discover how consumers’ personal values, political stances, and social beliefs can impact their brand loyalties. But which social issues have the greatest impact on actual purchase decisions? 

Resonate’s latest wave of USA consumer research answered this question, demonstrating that consumer activism in the US continues to drive purchase behavior across a spectrum of causes. 

Graph showing the impact of societal causes supported by brands has on cunsumer behavior
Image courtesy of Resonate

Of all the causes evaluated, the top 3 where US consumers said brand support makes them more inclined to purchase are:

  • Support for veteran and military families (37% of consumers are more inclined to purchase)
  • Support or mental health awareness resources (34%)
  • Commitment to environmental sustainability (29%)

At the same time, the causes that make consumers less likely to purchase from a brand are:

  • Support for the Pro-Life agenda (26%)
  • Support for Black Lives Matter (20%)
  • Support for transgender and non-binary rights (19%)
B2B buyers are consumers too
I’m excited to share my learnings on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart: the blurring of the lines between B2B and B2C marketing.

Why brand values matter

In the wake of the societal, cultural, and racial upheavals of recent years, consumers have become increasingly conscious of the societal and environmental impacts of their purchases. They are now keen to leverage their buying power to support causes that resonate with their personal beliefs. This shift in consumer behavior has driven a growing demand for products that are sourced ethically, eco-friendly, and adhere to fair labor practices. However, this goes beyond just the products; consumers also seek transparency from brands regarding their stances on major contemporary issues.

What’s notable is that it’s hard to draw tidy conclusions from the above list of causes based on stereotypical “conservative” and “liberal” ideas. Some so-called “liberal” or “conservative” issues are more likely to drive purchase, while others are more likely to deter them. The lack of a clear dichotomy might seem surprising based on the polarization we see so commonly represented in media, but when you look deeper into consumer behavior and sentiments, you’ll see that issues are rarely black and white, nor do they easily split across party lines. 

In other words, for brands looking to align their initiatives with their customers’ values, it’s not enough to assume you know what those alignments are based on top-line distinctions like political affiliation or demographics. 

The Purpose Spectrum
Purpose is a spectrum, and a brand’s place and fluidity on that spectrum depend on many factors. Let’s take a look at five points along this spectrum to help marketers assess where their brands fall and what that means for how they move forward in a purpose-obsessed marketing landscape.

Consumer expectations, now and the future

To navigate this evolving landscape and meet new consumer expectations, brands must begin by understanding their customers better. Who are these individuals, and what values are most important to them? Given the multitude of potential directions when aligning with the surge in social responsibility and consumer activism, it's prudent for company executives to pause and carefully consider their course of action.

What insights does the data offer? Where should your brand articulate and express its core values, and in what contexts should these values translate into tangible actions?

Being a purpose-driven brand isn't a fleeting trend to ignore, nor is virtue signaling a one-size-fits-all answer. Effectively navigating this complex topic necessitates a thorough understanding of your audience's values, psychological motivators, preferred means of expression, and other psychographics, in the context of your organization's principles, before making a stand on any social or political issue.

Jumping on the latest hashtag inauthentically will ring hollow to your audience and put you at risk of being canceled or losing them to your competitors. When seeking to connect with consumer activists, it is paramount to ensure that you remain authentic to your brand and corporate values above all else.

The values your brand stands for, and how you support them, are only going to be increasingly important in the future. It's tricky to navigate as a CMO, but it's much easier with the support of a global network of marketing leaders, which you can find on the CMO Alliance Community Slack channel.

Sign up for free.