You stand up for your ideals as a brand and do you dare to take sides if necessary? Or are you, as a brand, so brave that you start the discussion to initiate social change? Brands like Nike and Patagonia weren’t afraid to make their voices heard. They took sides, stood up for their supporters and let them hear a strong noise to the outside world. This is brand activism. But should brands get involved with politically charged themes? And what are the ingredients for a successful transmission of the message? To gain more insight into the possible effects of taking a stand, MarketResponse has conducted two studies. This blog focuses on one of these studies, into the importance of authenticity in taking an activist position.
Marketing trick or sincere involvement According to researchers, it is essential that brand activism emerges logically from identity and brand image. If it comes as a surprise it can be seen as a disingenuous marketing ploy. An example is the case of Pepsi. In an effort to join the Black Lives Matter movement and appeal to a younger audience, Pepsi launched a commercial starring model and influencer Kendall Jenner. The commercial was widely criticized , was quickly withdrawn, and Pepsi apologized for it. The brand has been accused of woke washing because there is no supporting evidence of genuine involvement in this theme. According to researchers Vredenburg et al. (2020), authenticity is about preserving the brand essence.
It must be clear that the statement stems from intrinsic motivation and genuine involvement. This can only be achieved by staying consistent in your core message and actions, building credibility over time. Two supermarkets with the same statement about meat consumption The Market Response survey looked at the importance of authenticity and a match between existing brand identity and point of view. We selected the two existing brands Marqt and SPAR. Marqt is a small supermarket chain that is mainly active in the larger cities. The supermarket brand aims to positively influence people’s consumption behavior by selling sustainable products. On the About Us page, Marqt takes an activist approach: “The current food system harms our environment and the quality of our food.