When brands and teams announce their stance on a social or political issue, reactions are mixed among the American public. Some of us respond positively and feel more comfortable and confident in an entity that aligns with our standpoint on issues, but not always. The Global Strategy Group researched consumer feelings about companies that took a clear stance on issues. When a company is on the same side of an issue, consumers “…in the 18-25 and 26-35 age groups are most likely to demonstrate an increased intention to purchase from a company,” Forbes reported. The rates for increased support are 8.1 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively.
The opposite effect is also found. Consumers age 56 or older are 16.2 percent less likely to support a company that does not support their personal social-political views. Whenever a sports team makes a political stand during a game, there is always some amount of backlash from fans with varying reasons for their upset. Some would prefer to focus only on the game. Others are upset because they want entertainment and news to be entirely separate. But with the current state of mainstream news in America, it can be difficult to subtract new stories from the sensationalized, advertisement-heavy venues.
This begs the plain question — should teams, brands and companies be apolitical? Further, is it appropriate for them to take a stance on social-political issues?
It can be tiring and stressful to find that a store or team you once loved supports something you are against. Sometimes, it’s easier to embrace ignorance and continue watching the games and shopping the aisles without knowing what’s happening behind the scenes. Sometimes, finding a brand does not support your views is means for eliminating them entirely from your life. Boycotting is a common reaction to these situations. But boycotting every brand that misaligns with your political views is not only exhausting — it is impossible for many Americans, who may have no other option for shopping or entertainment.
Colin Kaepernick is a popular example of how America handles a public figure taking a political stance. Kaepernick did not stand during the national anthem, as a way to use his publicity to bring attention to the issue of lasting racism in the U.S. Fans have been split over the issue and those similar. Some fans thank the players who make their voice heard, rather than focusing solely on the game. Others prefer to hear nothing political during these times and heckle outspoken players, trying to make them apologize and then silence them.
Sports teams and big-name brands have large audiences. Their reach stretches well beyond most smaller publications or individual efforts. There is little harm done in making a stance on social issues. Though it may bring tension, the American public should handle opposing views appropriately and not resort to unnecessary aggression. Knowing what a company stands for allows some people to opt out. If they prefer to give their money to companies that think like them, then power to them. We shouldn’t try to stifle that.
At the end of the day, these teams and companies are led by real people with valid opinions. They have the right to use their available resources to further a cause they truly believe in.