Many companies have been re-examining their strategies, messaging and even their brand names in light of the social justice movements sweeping the globe. Promises for diversity, equality and inclusion, made during the height of the conversation surrounding Black Lives Matter, Pride, and more, should not slip to the back burner just because news cycles may have changed and the holidays are upon us.

While the main focus for retailers this time of year is attracting the valuable holiday shopper, the holidays are also a time for giving back. Our research has shown that consumers, especially in younger generations, appreciate brands that demonstrate their engagement with social justice issues (50 percent). Only about 25 percent think brands should avoid engaging. The holidays are an opportunity to build up your reputation by pairing your commitment to bettering society with the spirit of the season.

Research has also shown that consumers are looking to brands for reassurance and confident action in an environment that has become unfamiliar and unpredictable. As the holiday season promises to look very different this year for most due to the pandemic, many consumers are feeling anxious and fearful — a topic we’ve studied in depth over the past few months. Brands that stand up and show a commitment to positive action can speak to the moment that their customers are experiencing.

Beyond the Holidays: Formal Strategies for the Long Term

It’s also critical to implement ongoing programs and initiatives that show an authentic commitment to social justice, into 2021 and beyond. Make it part of the fabric of your business. Your target customers are actively seeking brands that take a stand. And actions speak louder than words — people are going to get “smart” to any empty promises.

In such a divided world, how do you know which initiatives will resonate not only with your own company objectives and ethos, but also with your target audience? Decisions should be grounded in a deep understanding of your business, its goals, and its customers. Make sure you have a market research strategy that provides solid consumer insights on which you can base your strategy. There are many methodologies out there that can help, such as survey data collected from a representative audience, targeted consumer focus groups, in-the-moment apps to collect shopper feedback, and more. The right blend of consumer research will help give you a more complete view of your customers, including their attitudes, emotions and behaviors.

Internal Strategies

  1. Start by taking a deep look internally at your company’s values and how they’re being expressed throughout the organization. Is your company living up to its own values? Do these values warrant further examination in light of recent events?
  2. Fix what’s not in-line with your values, and share that growth and evolution with your customers. You can do this in a variety of ways, from your digital communications to your physical, in-store presence. Customers will deeply appreciate your candor and commitment.
  3. Speak to your values from every aspect — packaging, product, marketing, employee benefits, and more. Not only will you have a better chance of reaching your customers, but you’ll also ensure that there are no “holes” in your commitment to your values.

Chances are that your consumer research will show you that your customers are looking for your company to take a stand. A company that can be clear on its values and demonstrate those values through action will succeed this holiday season, and well beyond.