Tuesday, May 17, 2022

What’s Wrong with Research on Consumer Preference on Corporate Social Justice? Social Justice and Marketing Part 1

Photo by Corey Young on Unsplash
Marketers face a growing demand for their brands to have a voice on contentious social justice issues. As a result, marketers must navigate challenging questions of consumer expectations, stakeholder demands and brand health in an era of corporate social justice. There is no commonly understood definition, but corporate social justice encompasses the organizational values, attitudes and behaviors that contribute to the fair, equitable treatment of all stakeholders within and outside the organization.

Pressure has been rising for marketers and brands to “take a stand.” Some marketers have done so with decidedly mixed results for their brands. We’ve seen Nike bring social justice into its advertising and succeed, while Pepsi faced quick and considerable backlash when it leveraged social justice topics in its advertising.

We explored US consumers’ purchase decisions, both positively and negatively, about brands taking (or not taking) stands on today’s most contentious social justice issues. Before diving into the data, it’s important to note that, regardless of if and how corporate social justice drives customer preference, there are many reasons why your organization should embrace social justice issues.

Gartner researches the topic of social justice from many different perspectives, and we’ve found that embracing social justice issues can improve your culture and help you attract and retain talent. For example, 60% of employees reported improved engagement among peers after witnessing employer involvement in societal issues. And 68% of employees would consider quitting their current job and working with an organization with a stronger viewpoint on the social issues that matter most to them. But with the growing call for marketers to bring social causes into their brand voice, we felt it was essential to study how corporate social justice affects consumer purchases.

Why study this when so many studies of corporate social justice (and related topics like corporate social responsibility) are readily available? We evaluated studies of corporate social justice – many produced by agencies and consultants who wish to earn business helping brands become more active in these topics – and found they are flawed for two reasons. To learn these reasons, please continue reading this post on my Gartner blog.

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