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Mending the Culture Gap: New Fleishman report explores how to bridge society’s divisions

by | Oct 10, 2022 | Public Relations

Eye-opening new research from comms giant FleishmanHillard reveals that brands are finding themselves paralyzed in a landscape driven apart by culture wars, and businesses must be braver in bridging these issues to stay culturally relevant without losing authenticity to consumers.

The firm’s latest study, Authentic Insights: The Culture Gap, Introducing Gen D, in partnership with Columbia University’s Kai D. Wright, puts cultural issues at the heart of the research report to further understand how brands can move out of paralysis on today’s most pertinent topics and find a path forward in closing the current cultural divides in society.

Mending the Culture Gap: New Fleishman report explores how to bridge society's divisions

The study unpacks a new generation, Generation Divided (Gen D)

We’re at a point when people aren’t just feeling divided within communities, they are feeling a divide within themselves. The context of a polarized world has been well established in recent times, with clear societal divisions increasingly influencing both business and personal lives. The state of divide around us has a clear impact on our internal state of flux and on what’s right and what’s not. Sixty percent of consumers today feel that people are compromising their true self by being too politically correct, and almost half (47 percent) believe it’s becoming more difficult to get along with people who hold contrasting views.

Generation Divided was uncovered by the firm’s unique research screening process that moved away from the standard demographic splits based on age and gender. Instead, it examined a range of factors including socioeconomic indicators, gender identity and religious and political beliefs to ensure that all aspects of humanity are reflected within the research.

Mending the Culture Gap: New Fleishman report explores how to bridge society's divisions

“In this woke, people-power era, action and words are the minimum expectations for ongoing connections to your business and brand,” said Candace Peterson, global head of Brand at FleishmanHillard, in a news release. “We find many brands in a state of arrested development, unsure of how to move forward amid so much cultural division and so much reputation at stake. The latest study explores this tension. It spotlights not just how companies should view culture, but how these cultural divides can be used as a springboard to strengthen their brand reputation and remain, or even become, culturally relevant.”

Mending the Culture Gap: New Fleishman report explores how to bridge society's divisions

Key survey findings include:

  • While 67 percent of respondents wanted brands to be empathetic, 78 percent felt being authentic was even more important.
  • More than half (55 percent) think brands should release fewer upgrades/new products over the next year.
  • Although 61 percent of consumers would choose an employer based on its willingness to take a stand on societal issues, almost as many also agree that employers often fake their interest in DE&I and other societal issues (55 percent).

Mending the Culture Gap: New Fleishman report explores how to bridge society's divisions

“Ultimately, brand and business leaders must prepare to be uncomfortable—ready to shift the practices, processes and policies of producing, releasing and evaluating efficacy of work,” said Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright, in the release. “No one leader knows the best path for each community, and no business team belongs to every global culture. Continual learning is inherent in leadership to be culturally relevant. Through this report and study, we explore the drivers fueling a growing cultural divide between communities; understand how to anticipate, thrive in and accelerate through the ever-constant of ‘change’; and dive into the role that brands and businesses play in bridging the cultural gap to solve societal issues.”

Mending the Culture Gap: New Fleishman report explores how to bridge society's divisions

Download the full report here.

The research was conducted by FleishmanHillard TRUE Global Intelligence, the agency’s in-house research practice, together with an accredited third-party vendor, which surveyed 5,000 adults – 18 years old and older – across the U.S., UK, China, Germany and Brazil (1,000 per country). The research survey was designed to move away from standard demographic splits based on age and gender, and instead looked at communities through commonalities on a range of factors, including socioeconomic indicators, gender identity, religious beliefs and political leanings to ensure all conditions of humanity are reflected within the research. The survey consisted of two separate 25-question surveys, which were answered online by respondents September 15-20.

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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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