More than 9 in 10 (93%) people believe that brands should react to public opinion, according to a survey from Ruder Finn. And while more feel heard than ignored by brands, it appears that brands could do better.
Per the survey results, almost 4 in 10 people (39.2%) agree that brands listen to individuals, almost three times the share who disagree (14.5%). Still, a plurality (46.4%) are neutral on whether or not brands listen to individuals.
There’s a bit more consensus on whether or not brands listen to groups: 46.8% agree, slightly outweighing the 45.6% who are neutral, but far ahead of the 7.7% who disagree.
The primary action that brands can take in response to public opinion is to invite feedback and dialogue, with roughly half (49%) of respondents believing this would be meaningful for a brand to do. Other actions that people would find meaningful include supporting a charitable cause (38%), issuing a statement to explain the brand’s position (38%) and taking a public stance on an issue (36%).
Separate research has found people believing that brands can do more to address societal issues, but acknowledging that there is a risk for them in doing so. In the US, for example, slightly fewer than half believe that brands can avoid being political when addressing societal issues.
Interestingly, though, in the Ruder Finn survey, more than 4 in 10 (43%) said they would feel that a brand listens even if it took an opposing stance, as long as it demonstrated that it heard their point of view.
Somewhat surprisingly, only 38% of Gen Z respondents agreed that it’s easy to contact brands about issues that are important to them, with this youngest demographic significantly trailing Millennials (53%) and Gen Xers (58%) in this regard. That’s despite youths’ affinity for social media, which users have said gives them the power to hold brands accountable.
Other Survey Highlights:
- Almost 6 in 10 (57% of) consumers engage directly with brands in at least one of three distinct ways: the most common way is to write an online review (78% of those who have engaged), followed by directly reaching out to a brand (56%) and boycotting a brand (22%).
- Respondents reported being about 4 times more likely to provide positive (48.7%) than negative (12.4%) feedback to a brand.
- The majority (55%) of respondents had a better opinion of a brand after engaging with them, while just 8% had a lower opinion.
About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 1,752 people ages 16+ in the US. The sample was screened based on whether the respondent had engaged with any brands in the last 6 months, resulting in a qualified sample of 1,000 respondents.