Consumers urge brands to avoid election noise—here’s where to focus instead

by | Jan 27, 2020 | Public Relations

As we head into a divisive presidential election year, Americans are expecting an overinflated campaign season full of name calling, finger pointing and other electioneering noise—but new research from PLUS Communications and GS Strategy Group reveals that consumers don’t want brands and businesses to get caught up in the partisan maelstrom. They want companies to focus on taking care of their employees—not pursuing politically-motivated social campaigns.

“Companies can prove their commitment to putting people over profits by showing how they treat employees,” according to these new survey results. “Companies should stay neutral, not cater to the far left or right. Having a centrist image is key to maintaining or developing a positive image among customers,” was another key sentiment of respondents.

“This new research shows that companies can boost their image, even in today’s polarizing political climate, by focusing on employee well-being,” said Danny Diaz, PLUS Communications managing partner, in a news release. “Smart companies should take advantage of the booming economy to take care of their employees, not cater to the politics of the moment.”

“Despite what some talking heads might have you believe, our research shows that companies would do well to steer clear of politically divisive social campaigns,” added Greg Strimple, GS Strategy Group president, in the release. “Investing in employees is a critical way for companies to show customers they have placed a premium on the right priorities.”

Key findings of the research:

  • Customers are nearly twice as concerned about their economic future (58 percent) than how they are doing currently (31 percent); nearly half saying they think about their future situation very often (48 percent).
  • Overwhelmingly, customers believe the top corporate responsibility measure is employee benefits and wages.
  • But by a 56 to 7 percent margin, customers believe businesses prioritize profits over fair compensation for employees.
  • Not only do customers want companies to take action to prioritize employees, customers trust businesses to be more effective at ensuring their financial well-being than politicians. By a 51 to 32 margin, Americans believe the business community will be more successful than Congress when it comes to addressing challenges, such as ensuring employees’ financial security.
  • Customers are tired of political correctness—81 percent agree it has gone too far.

Strategic takeaways:

  • Taking care of employees appeals to left-of-center customers.
  • Creating a sense of balance between concern for profit and concern for customers improves a company’s image.
  • Companies are strongest when seen as non-partisan. The more they are viewed as neither aligned with the Republican nor Democratic parties, the better their image.

See full survey results here.

PLUS Communications and GS Strategy Group recently conducted a national survey of U.S. customers assessing American demand for corporate responsibility and political engagement.  The survey, which was conducted online in December 2019, interviewed 1,000 customers and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent. 

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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