The survey revealed steps taken (see Figure 1) to demonstrate their commitment to societal change but more could be done.
“As a result, marketing has taken on the responsibility of using the brand’s platform to build awareness of societal issues and communicate support for movements. However, there is some misalignment of consumer expectations of brands and the actions they report having taken."Jay Wilson
Alignment of commitment and action
Gartner found that 44% of consumers report that their highest expectation of companies is for them to ensure their own policies and practices align with a cause, but only 37% of CMOs report taking that action.
While 24% of consumers are calling for brands to put donation as a top two priority, only 46% of CMOs report donations as a top action taken.
Figure 1: Actions taken in societal issues over the past 12 months
Source: Gartner (January 2020)
“If part of a brand’s motivation for taking action on social issues is to align with what consumers want from brands, CMOs may need to review their priorities. Taking any action comes with risk in an increasingly polarized society. However, such risks are typically offset by having furthered or fulfilled the brand’s purpose,” said Augie Ray, vice president analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.
- Spearhead efforts to ensure company policies and practices reflect the ideals of target consumers, especially as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Take a leadership role and implement a process for monitoring and engaging with societal issues. An organizational decision criterion is needed to ensure consistent, defensible decision making.
- Understand the benefits and risks of taking a stand on issues, and have a solid grasp of brand values and a crisis management plan before taking a stand on societal or political issues.