A recent survey conducted by the Trafalgar Group found that a significant majority of people are becoming frustrated with the overt politicization of corporations, particularly with respect to LGBT+ issues. The study, which surveyed over 1,000 people (who leaned Democratic by 4%), discovered that 62% of respondents wished companies would remain neutral on such issues, with only 23% endorsing the continuation of their political themes.
This sentiment appears to be impacting consumer behavior as well, with large swathes of customers choosing to boycott brands that overtly align themselves with certain political or cultural stances. Approximately 41% of all voters stated that they had boycotted a company that took a public stance on a cultural or political issue they disagreed with. A large portion of these consumers were Republicans, with nearly 70% refusing to shop at ‘progressive’ businesses.
There was a substantial gap in this backlash compared to Democrats. Only 45% of Democratic respondents indicated they were likely to boycott ‘conservative or MAGA-leaning’ businesses. Surprisingly, 14% of Democrats admitted to joining Republicans in boycotting overly politicized companies.
As a result, some companies have started to reconsider their approach. Bloomberg reported a significant decrease in Pride-related promotions compared to previous years, in the wake of recent public backlash. “References to ‘Pride Month’ in filings, presentations and transcripts from April to June at more than 900 of the largest US companies dropped almost 40% from this time last year, the first decline in five years,” the report stated.
Dr. Ben Carson encapsulated this new sentiment on Wednesday’s “Washington Watch,” stating that corporate America needed to reevaluate their purpose. He said, “Corporate America has a very important purpose, and that is to reward their stockholders. Now, they can’t necessarily do that if they have another agenda — like being social manipulators. And I think they’re starting to recognize that. And I’m glad to see also that the people are pushing back.”
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth acknowledged the challenging situation. “There’s a big social conversation taking place right now,” he noted, “and big brands are right in the middle of it. And it’s not just our industry or Bud Light. It’s happening in retail, happening in fast food. And so for us, what we need to understand is — deeply understand and appreciate — is the consumer and what they want, what they care about and what they expect from big brands.”
The Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm summed up the situation saying, “Most Americans respond to relentless, preachy marketing from businesses trying to virtue signal their progressive bona fides like they respond to street preachers thumping a Bible.”
The survey results seem to suggest that consumers desire neutrality from businesses. With a significant portion of the consumer base moving away, corporations may need to rethink their political positions.