How Consumer Activism can be Turned into Brand Activism for Better Brand Perception
2017 February 20
When a number of consumers get together to make a demand or make their opinion clear about certain causes related directly or indirectly to a company, they get heard. Their persistence usually pays off and can impact the sales, revenue and the image and trust that a brand enjoys.
Consumer activism involves a range of activities that may be targeted to force a company to clean up its unscrupulous or unethical acts or to force it to take a stand on an issue affecting majority of its stakeholders including the all important customers.
A brand can actually stand to benefit from consumer activism. If it can properly identify the market opportunities and risks, and weighing all the forces pick the best time to voice out an opinion which it knows would be supported by the majority of its stakeholders, it can actually create a strong, positive image.
It can also promote causes through its digital channels. It can use powerful hashtags to try and promote certain ways of life, come across as a responsible corporate entity when it vows to spend a certain potion of its revenues from a product on CSR, when it openly pledges to work on the less fortunate and also encourage buyers to buy a product as a percentage of the proceeds would go for the eradication of a social evil. This would not only help it improve its revenues as socially responsible consumers would contribute to growth of its business and participate in its schemes and contests, it can create a differentiation against its competitors who are not as socially responsible.
By starting a social campaign or making its stand clear on an issue and then providing a suitable platform to its consumers to take the fight forward with its constant support, it can turn consumer activism into brand activism and give a fillip to the brand image. By respecting the public perception, a brand manages to align its core business values with those of its consumers and creates an instant connection with its consumers.
Brand activism is not free from its share of risks and challenges
Sometimes, brand activism can lead to trouble. The government may turn antagonistic or certain forces that you criticized may turn hostile and vengeful. Moreover, a section of your target market may not be in agreement with your noble ideas and you risk alienating them. This could lead to short-term hardships for you. It is important to understand the pulse of the majority of your stakeholders and see where their heart lies. It is important to change an adversarial relationship by advocating systemic change on a number of sustainability issues.
Brand activism is more than lip service
Your core stakeholders will connect with your activities willingly if the ideas resonate with their own. A company shouldn’t try to take their consumers on a royal ride. There is no point in recommending a strong action against offshore oil drilling because it disturbs the marine ecological balance and then invest in an offshore oil field yourself or get into a strategic partnership with a company working in that field.
Consumer activists will question your credibility and your image can take a beating. It is best to be completely honest. If you feel strongly about a social cause, try to reduce activities that exacerbate the problem or at least demonstrate a visible desire to change. Only then will your customers take you seriously, see you as a partner and want to set up a long-term relationship with your business.
React quickly to crises. Don’t try to stage-manage a crisis. Be honest, let the true opinions disseminate. Display the ability to change for the better. Show an honest face and a caring touch. Be transparent. Don’t use force or deceit to deflect attention from an issue that is adversely affecting your brand image. Speak to representatives of consumer activist groups and demonstrate the urge to take them on board when making contentious decisions. This will definitely transform your business outlook and people’s perception of your business.
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