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Brands' social and political stances may make or break sales.

Consumers respond to openness

During the TransparencyIQ conference, Jay Porter, president of Edelman, Chicago, provided insight as to why transparency is so critical, at a time when consumer trust in business, media, government and non-governmental organizations (N.G.O.s), which are non-profit, voluntary citizens’ groups, and third parties, continues to decline.

“The world wants more from brands,” Mr. Porter said. “More than half of respondents believe brands can do more to solve social ills than the government.”

He explained how shared beliefs are the most powerful driver of commitment. This requires deeper transparency on a wide range of issues.

Transparency quote

“Consumers increasingly want to know that a brand, a company is with them,” Mr. Porter said. “It’s not just about your product or even your supply chain.”

Fifty-seven per cent of consumers surveyed for the 2017 Edelman Earned Brand study said they are either buying or boycotting brands based on the brand’s position on a social or political issue. This is up 30% in the past three years. Half said they are belief-driven buyers, with 65% of belief-driven buyers saying they will not buy a brand because it stayed silent on an issue it had an obligation to address.

“Speak up and they will buy loyally,” Mr. Porter said. “Speak up and they will pay a premium.”