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Belief-driven Buying Is on the Rise Yet Again, Edelman Study Finds

If you thought your brand’s stance on racial injustice was going unnoticed, think again. In fact, belief-driven buying is on the rise and 42% of U.S. shoppers say they started or stopped buying from a brand because of how it responded to protests against racism in the past year, according to the latest Trust Barometer from Edelman.

Since August 2020, 7% more shoppers care about racial justice and whether companies are taking a stance — and voting for those that share their personal values with their wallets.

Brands that speak up are more likely to gain consumer trust — but they must follow through with action to avoid looking opportunistic. 

Belief-driven Buying Is on the Rise Yet Again, Study Finds

We’ve already written that purpose and trust are necessary for brands in 2021 — especially for shoppers falling into generation Z and Alpha as well as Millennials, as these folks are deeply invested in social issues from race to gender issues and climate change.

In its special report, “Business and Racial Justice in America,” global communications firm Edelman confirms that belief-driven buying is on the rise once more and also offers the following new findings:

  • 53% of U.S. consumers agree that brands and companies that issue a statement in support of racial equality need to follow it with ACTION to avoid being perceived as insincere
  • 81% say brands that take a stance are more likely to earn or keep my trust
  • 41% say they would not work for an organization that fails to speak out publicly about racism 
  • 46% of Americans, and over half of Black, Latinx, and Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Americans agree with the statement that “with few exceptions, the business community has done very little in the way of concrete actions to address systemic racism in our country” — a 2-point increase since August 2020

With governments lagging behind (and people losing trust in them, according to Edelman) consumers are expecting companies to pick up the slack and lead by example. 

And because of that, as we see shoppers be economically motivated by their personal beliefs and values more and more, we are in a new age of holding brands more accountable for what they actually do (or don’t) … and both shoppers and employees are taking notice and keeping stock. 

Here we have the potential for brands to meet and exceed consumers’ expectations in a world of values-driven buyers. And if companies can step up? This spells a win/win for all.

“The companies that win will take hard and necessary steps both internally and externally to ensure that we move beyond representation and tokenism, into a world where voices and communities of color are authentically portrayed, elevated, and given a chance to succeed.

“That means the next phase of work falls not just to corporate leaders and their teams, but largely to brands – the external representations of America’s corporate institutions.”

– Lisa Ross, U.S. CEO at Edelman

With the Black Lives Matter uprising and current ongoing hate crimes against the API community, we are witnessing just the beginning of a long journey that we hope will eventually culminate in mass healing and recovery. Taking this view of current events opens the door for brands to lead the way toward loyal customers, bigger profits, and a more fair world for everyone.

Brands Taking a Stance on Racial Injustice

Australian sunglasses brand Quay has a history of supporting social justice. They’re currently inviting customers to donate to Hate Is A Virus through Round-Up at checkout. Read about how they’re giving back and other causes they’ve supported.

Men’s underwear brand 2(X)ist is currently benefiting the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among various other nonprofits, by running both the Portion of Sales and Donation Tiers campaigns on their store. This brand has been highlighting various organizations to give back to those fighting for equal rights for over a year through Shop for Good. 

Dessert empire Milk Bar loves to support social change by rallying customers around vital causes. They’re currently backing the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) through Donation Tiers at product level. In the past year, they’ve also raised tens of thousands of dollars for Black Lives Matter, the Innocence Project, and the NAACP Empowerment Programs.

Jiu-Jitsu gear brand HYPERFLY continually aims to give back. It’s currently raising funds for Stop AAPI Hate through Portion of Sales and Donation Tiers. In the past year, they’ve shown their commitment by donating a portion of proceeds to a range of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU) and Black Lives Matter.

Check out our case studies to find more mission-driven brands putting their money where their mouth is. 

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91% of consumers said they'd likely switch to purchasing from a brand that supports a cause they believe in.

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