In the past, brands took a first date approach to politics: don't talk about them (or you'll be asking for trouble). But as society has evolved, consumers--particularly younger millennials and in Gen Zers--are looking to brands to put their money where their mouth is and speak out on the cultural issues that are deeply affecting the world.
According to a 2018 study, 64 percent of consumers worldwide will make a purchasing decision based on a brand's social or political position. Some big brands, and even mid-level and smaller ones like my company works with, have changed their marketing strategy to touch on topics they know their customers care about.
Here are 3 brands that took a political stance and are reaping the rewards for it:
1. Gucci Gives Back and Gains a New Audience
In 2018, Gucci creative director, Alessandro Michele, made a statement announcing his love and support for the March For Our Lives gun-control rally and donated $500,000 to the march.
The luxury brand made another political statement with the Cruise 2020 fashion show where one of its blazers had the pro-choice statement "My Body, My Choice" written across the back. Gucci doubled down on its commitment to women's rights on Instagram where it discussed funding projects that support the freedom of individual choice and maternal health. So far, they have raised over $15 million for projects around the world that help girls and women.
Gucci started off 2018 with an impressive 49 percent in sales growth - and it was in no small part to its huge success among millenials. Millennials, who are also considered "the world's most powerful consumers," are a generation who stand up for change. They appreciate Gucci's authenticity and how the brand uses its voice to do more than turn a profit.
2. Patagonia Stays True to Its Mission
Patagonia is a great example of a brand that has been speaking out on politics before it became acceptable. Its mission statement is, "We're in business to save our home planet."
The outdoor gear and apparel retailer donated Black Friday profits to environmental groups in 2016 - which ended up earning them $10 million in sales and winning 25,000 new shoppers. In 2018, they donated $10 million from what they called an "irresponsible tax cut" to groups committed to air, land, and water and discovering solutions to the climate crisis.
Most recently, Patagonia is suing U.S President, Donald Trump, for getting rid of 2 million acres of public land in Utah and Nevada. The company's donations and activism hasn't gone unnoticed. Patagonia has the highest loyalty percentage among the top performing brands that sell outerwear online.
3. Nike Takes a Stand Against Police Brutality
Last year, Nike made a bold political statement by featuring Colin Kaepernick in an ad titled "Dream Crazy" for its 30th-anniversary "Just Do It" campaign. Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback, became well-known for protesting police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games.
Although the ad initially received a great deal of hatred, Nike knew the people who spoke out against the campaign weren't its target market in the first place - and the brand's $6 billion increase in overall value shows they were right. Most recently, the ad has won an Emmy for outstanding commercial.
At the content company I co-founded, Masthead Media, we help our clients decide if taking a political stance will be impactful for them through market research and studying their target audience. What's your take on making politics a part of your brand messaging?