- Nearly half (49%) of consumers view the overall trend of brand activism positively, with 17% having a negative view and 34% remaining neutral, according to a survey by market research firm Piplsay. The activism in question included brands like PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Mars and Hasbro making changes to logos and product names to address social issues like racism and gender-neutrality.
- Opinions on the reasoning and impact of brand activism were mixed, however, with consumers saying brands are giving in or cashing in on the culture war (31%), such actions can help bring real change (31%) and such actions won't bring real change (17%), with 21% unsure what to think. More than half (58%) of consumers say such actions have impacted purchasing behavior or brand impression.
- The Piplsay survey of 30,221 U.S. consumers suggests a plurality of people view the trend in brand activism positively, even if differences in opinion remain — especially across gender and generational lines.
It has been about 10 months since the police killing of George Floyd spurred global protests about racial justice, causing many brands to weigh in on the Black Lives Matter movement and, in some cases, make changes to their logos and product names. Piplsay's latest survey finds that a plurality of U.S. consumers view such brand activism in a positive light, even if questions about the reasoning and impact of the movement remain.
Since the peak of the renewed Black Lives Matter movement last summer, 38% of survey respondents have higher expectations from brands, while 31% have the same expectations and 22% have no expectations from brands. In a previous Piplsay survey taken last summer, nearly two-thirds (65%) of U.S. consumers said brands should take a stand against racism, suggesting that brands still have room for improvement in this area, even as the spotlight has moved toward other concerns amid the ongoing pandemic.
As for major brand moves, PepsiCo's renaming of the Aunt Jemima brand to the Pearl Milling Company was recalled by the most consumers (31%), followed by Hasbro's recent decision to drop "Mr." from its Potato Head toys to make the brand gender-neutral. Changes by Uncle Ben's (10%), Land O Lakes (9%) and Mrs. Butterworth's (8%) were recalled by very few consumers. This lack of recall is in line with last summer's Piplsay survey that found that 61% of U.S. consumers were not completely certain that removing racist brand mascots or labels will make a huge difference.
The Piplsay survey also found differences of opinion across gender and generational lines. More than half (55%) of men view brand activism positively compared to 45% of women, while 57% of millennials say it impacts both brand impression and buying behavior compared to 43% of Gen Zers. The differences suggest that brand activism is still an important strategy, but one that must be undertaken with care, especially when considering different consumer segments.