The Risk Brands Take in Commenting on Political Divisions: Alienating Consumers Either Way

For most industries, majorities said it was inappropriate for brands to make a statement, but a large share disagreed

Consumers are nearly equally divided on what types of brands should even address political matters at all, according to a recent Morning Consult poll. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)
  • 53% of consumers said it is appropriate for local businesses and media companies to post about politics; 47% said it is inappropriate.

  • About 60% said it is inappropriate for alcohol brands and ride-hailing services to do the same, while about 40% found it acceptable.

Liquor and ride-hailing companies might risk blowback if they tweet about political division, according to new polling from Morning Consult, while mom-and-pop stores could benefit from releasing a statement about the state of the country.

While previous research has shown how much tone and formatting matter when brands speak out about the extraordinary political division defining the United States today, consumers are nearly equally divided on what types of brands should even address political matters at all, leaving many companies in a precarious position.

On one hand, some consumers might be put off if they notice their favorite brand is staying silent on social media. On the other, just as many consumers could find it inappropriate for a company to weigh in on political issues. 

Narrow majorities of consumers said it would be appropriate for local businesses and media companies to make public statements about political division.

Just under half agreed when asked about brands in other verticals — such as banks, software companies, clothing, food and beauty brands — leaving similarly small majorities of consumers who say it’s inappropriate for most brands to get political, according to the survey, which was conducted Jan. 15-18 among 2,200 U.S. adults.

Consumers are less split when it comes to brands speaking out on racial inequality as opposed to political division: In early June, more people than not said they would see a brand in a less favorable light if it said nothing about the Black Lives Matter protests at the time.

For brands that do ultimately decide to speak out about political division these days, message matters — especially message length.

The worst thing for a company to do in a political post? Ramble, according to the Morning Consult survey.

Sixty percent of consumers said they would view a brand that posted a long statement about political division on social media less favorably, compared with 37 percent who said a short message would make favorability drop.

For brands that do ultimately decide to speak out about political division these days, message matters — especially message length.

The worst thing for a company to do in a political post? Ramble, according to the Morning Consult survey.

Sixty percent of consumers said they would view a brand that posted a long statement about political division on social media less favorably, compared with 37 percent who said a short message would make favorability drop.

When it comes to Twitter, and social media in general, more formal statements also seem to be the way to go: 66 percent of respondents said a serious social media post about political issues would make them see a brand more favorably.

Consumers also yearn for sincerity from brands, with 69 percent saying a heartfelt message would help a brand’s favorability. Sixty-four percent said the same of a unique statement that stands apart from those of other companies.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!