Corporate Activism: Should Hotel Brands Take a Stand?
By Rick Garlick Vice President, Strategy Consultant, Magid | September 01, 2019
Getting involved in cultural and political debates can be a dicey proposition for businesses. While corporations are ultimately made of people who have their own values, beliefs, and positions, businesses are inherently not political organizations whose mission is to bring about social or cultural change. On the flip side, however, people purchase from companies with whom they identify. When customers believe the companies with whom they shop believe as they do, act in a manner they see as responsible, and generally align with their personal values, they are more likely to develop an emotional connection and have preference with those companies.
Conversely, if customers see brands as not being like themselves, or sharing their values, they will not want to spend their dollars with these organizations, particularly during this era when emotions are running so high.
According to a November 2018 study on consumer attitudes towards social responsibility of brands, 66 percent of respondents felt that they should take a more public stance on important social issues. Further, 61 percent claimed that they would recommend a brand aligned with their personal values. The data, however, shows a relatively even split between those that would or would not be impacted if a brand took a stance on something which they disagreed. While 51% say they would not be impacted by a brand's activist stance, that leaves the potential to alienate the other 49%.
For some, consumers just buy a pair of shoes that fit their personal sense of style and represent a quality product. For others, an activist stance on which they disagree can be a turnoff regardless of how much they might otherwise like the product.
Because the country has many varying political views, taking strong stands can work for, or against, a business, just as it can for a Hollywood celebrity. While many embrace those that hold activist positions, there is an equal and opposite reaction for others. We sometimes put distance between ourselves and others with whom we not only disagree but see as our personal opposite.