Pressure to take a stand on values extends to B2B companies, study finds
- Eight in 10 business leaders would end a business relationship based on the vendor's failure to address high-stakes communications, like data security, income and wage gaps and sexual harassment, according to a new study by global communications agency Hotwire, "High-Stakes Leadership in a Post B2B World." Eighty-two percent of consumers would consider boycotting a brand that was associated with a partner or supplier if their handling of high-stakes issues ran counter to their values.
- About 60% of marketers have been involved with a high-stakes communications issue, and 70% worry about such an event. Half of marketers say having clear values is the best way to prepare for a high-stakes event, but only 31% of senior marketers and 22% of business leaders say their company has core values that would guide them during such an event. Customer loss and brand reputation are the top concerns in a crisis.
- In general, marketers are not as prepared as they should be, but 78% of marketers say high-stakes issue planning is at least as important as other areas of their marketing and communications strategy. Forty-five percent of markers don’t have a high-stakes communication plan; 48% think their company's communications reflect core values most of the time, but 53% feel vulnerable to the impact of an issue.
Consumers continue to expect brands to take a stance and share their values on important issues. The Hotwire report suggests that the same expectations exist in the business-to-business sector at a time when numerous companies have been brought to their knees by controversies around how they approach diversity, pay equity and harassment, among other issues. In this environment, consumer-facing brands can and are being held accountable for perceived bad actions by their vendor partners, which is why 80% of business leaders would end a relationship based on a vendor's failure to address such high-stakes issues when a crisis occurs.
The report also highlights why marketing and business leaders should look into how their company’s core values and preparedness for a high-stakes communications crisis could help companies minimize any backlash in case an event occurs.
The Hotwire study is also the latest to emphasize consumer consciousness when it comes to their values and important issues. More than three-quarters of consumers strive to purchase products and services that align with their personal beliefs, and 50% have dropped a brand that violated these beliefs. Consumers are most concerned that brands take a stance on protecting the environment, sexual harassment, climate change, data security, and income and wage gaps. In the U.S. alone, immigration, income and wage gaps and political corruption were the top concerns.
CMOs capitalizing on society’s divisions to disrupt the market was one of Forrester’s Predictions 2019: CMO. Marketers were predicted to exploit weaknesses and unresolved problems within an ecosystem to create value and use technology, culture, media, creativity and economics as a way to drive disruption and rally consumers. But, cause-driven marketing efforts that are too emotionally intense and play up the guilt factor don’t always resonate and can potentially backfire, with consumers seeing them as insincere and distrustful, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Advertising.