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U.S. biz state of loyalty—consumers prefer brands that support refugees 

by | Dec 28, 2018 | Public Relations

Despite rising polarization on refugee policy in the United States, research shows that consumers—particularly millennials—prefer brands that commit to helping refugees, according to a new report from the NYU Stern School of Business and the Tent Partnership for Refugees.

The study, How Helping Refugees Helps Brands, utilized an online survey of more than 7,000 U.S. consumers to analyze how consumers respond to brands’ efforts to support refugees. The report finds that, across a wide range of demographics, consumers respond positively to a variety of business efforts to support refugees, including hiring refugees, delivering services to refugees, investing in refugee entrepreneurs, and sourcing from refugee businesses.

“This report shows that consumers will reward brands that support refugees,” said Gideon Maltz, executive director of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, in a news release. “In a crowded marketplace, brands that integrate refugees into their business can distinguish themselves from their competitors, especially among millennials. This is a clear demonstration that brands can do well by doing good.”

“Supporting refugees is not just charity, but helping refugees can be good for business,” said Professor Tülin Erdem, co-author of the report and chair of NYU Stern’s Marketing Department, in the release. “It impacts brand image and consumer brand purchase behavior positively. This is consistent with current consumer (especially the millennial consumer) preferences for brands that take a strong stance for social issues and consider the welfare on multiple stakeholders, including the society at large.”

Consumer response by commitment type:

U.S. biz state of loyalty—consumers prefer brands that support refugees 

On average, the younger the consumer, the more positively they respond to brand support for refugees

Millennials, by significant margins, are more likely to purchase a brand if they know the brand is committed to supporting refugees in one or more ways—a powerful finding, given that millennials’ annual spending power is projected to reach $1.4 trillion in the U.S. by 2020.

For example, while 48 percent of millennials are more likely to purchase a brand committing to extend financial, educational, or other services to refugees, only 10 percent are less likely to do so. Similarly, 44 percent of millennials are more likely to purchase a brand committing to hire refugees in the U.S., compared to 11 percent that are less likely to do so.

U.S. biz state of loyalty—consumers prefer brands that support refugees 

Overall, the survey indicates overwhelmingly positive reactions to most types of brand support for refugees regardless of age

The report also finds that consumers’ responses vary depending on whether brands focus on helping refugees in the United States or those overseas. Self-identified conservative consumers and older consumers, for example, are more likely to respond positively to brand commitments to hire refugees overseas. With almost 90 percent of refugees residing in low- and middle-income countries, this highlights another clear path for brands to provide meaningful support for refugees.

Download the full report here.

U.S. biz state of loyalty—consumers prefer brands that support refugees 

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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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