Class Warfare An Opportunity For Brands?

by Bruce Tait

Maybe this one will inspire some conversation.

Could more brands side with a contentious cause that reflects their targets’ interests?

There is an awful lot of talk about loyalty out there today. Unfortunately, it seems that much of it is around transactional loyalty rather than real brand loyalty. While the new tools available through social media, etc. are great ways to involve consumers in a brand, it seems that it’s mostly working on a pretty superficial level. Could that change?

We know trust and loyalty are really linked and that trust is a continuum that is deepest and most powerful when someone feels an organization or person is really on their side. They share values. They are working toward the same goals. They have a common sense of purpose.

What’s this got to do with the current “class warfare” apparently underway in America?  It seems that many people on either end of the political spectrum are feeling like they aren’t represented properly in the political landscape. Super PACs and lobbyists empower the very few to move the country in the direction they want.

The political process has been commercialized already. What if a brand was to choose sides and actively work for the benefit of a swath of society? Perhaps spending money on Super PACs and lobbyists to serve the cause of their target group and not just their own, more narrowly defined self-benefit? Procter & Gamble describes the market as an hour glass now. All the income statistics show a growing chasm between demographic groups. There are a number of brands out there have very well defined targets on one side or the other of the political and demographic spectrums. It seems that some companies and brands could select a particular group and give voice to their issues, needs, values and priorities.

People talk about how powerful brand Obama was in 2008. Why can’t a brand representing a company or an organization or product/service do this in the name of driving long-lasting loyalty and transcending their category. It would be differentiating. It would be original.

I’m going to talk about smart targeting as way to differentiate brands in an upcoming blog, and this is really just a specific way of doing just that. This specific approach is not right for every brand or for multi-brand companies targeting across a diverse spectrum of consumers. But some brands are probably aligned with a political stance already, without even knowing it.  The Komen Foundation is an example with regard to their flip-flop with Planned Parenthood a few years ago. Makes you wonder if a brand can really be neutral anymore. Is it possible that The Komen Foundation is highly dependent on people with a similar POV on certain aspects of women’s health and they didn’t really know it?

Is it crazy to think that a luxury brand could defend the 1%? Is it ridiculous to think that the Dollar Store might fight alongside groups fighting for more equitable income distribution in the U.S.

The market is bifurcating in so many categories. The middle is dangerous ground. So, why not go all-in and be the brand that advances the cause of particular group. That group could be a niche for some brands and it could be vast for others. It should fit with the product/service you actually sell.  But as goes your consumer, so goes the brand. Aren’t you all-in already?

Just a thought. What do you think?

Posted in Forward Thinking, Published Articles.