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Navigating the echo chamber: Brands, bias, and social moments

Marni Hirschorn SVP, Account Management 03/15/2024
Only 22% of consumers would view a brand negatively if it stayed silent during a social moment, while 15% would feel positive about it.

In today’s socially conscious world, brands are often expected to take a stand on important social issues. But, Savanta’s recent study on Understanding bias, discrimination, and its impact on society suggests that remaining silent during significant social moments may not have a substantial impact on most consumers.

According to our research, only 22% of consumers would view a brand negatively if it stayed silent during a social moment, while 15% would feel positive about it. Surprisingly, the majority of consumers (53%) would have a neutral stance on the matter.

Interestingly, the study found that consumers from the Boomer generation are less likely to have strong opinions about brands’ involvement with social issues. In contrast, 30% of Gen-Z respondents would change their opinion for the worse if a brand remained silent.

The research also highlights that underrepresented groups, such as the LGBTQIA+ community, gender non-conforming individuals, and BIPOC communities, are more likely to be frustrated with brands that do not speak out. For instance, 28% of the LGBTQIA+ community reported a negative impact on their perception of a silent brand.

While remaining silent may not have a significant impact, brands have an opportunity to proactively engage with diversity and inclusion efforts to maintain customer loyalty and attract new ones, particularly among younger generations and underrepresented communities.

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To successfully navigate social issues, brands need to actively listen, engage in dialogue, and conduct thorough research to gain insights into the diverse needs and expectations of their audience. Understanding diverse perspectives involves recognizing the unique experiences, values, and aspirations of different communities.

It is crucial for brands to strike the right balance between actively addressing social issues and respecting the diverse beliefs and preferences of their audience. This requires authentic and genuine efforts, avoiding performative gestures or virtue signaling.

By taking a thoughtful and well-informed approach, brands can navigate social issues with sensitivity and empathy, earning the trust and respect of their customers.

It’s important for brands to remember that while silence may not always be detrimental, there is value in actively participating in positive changes towards diversity and inclusion. Brands that do will not only contribute to a more inclusive society but also strengthen their connection with consumers who appreciate their genuine efforts.

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