The path to achieving racial justice is complex. There are many overlapping social, economic and cultural factors that ignited the racial unrest that came to a head this past year. As we collectively push for a more equitable tomorrow, what role do brands play in taking a stand and making a difference for racial justice?
OBERLAND asked American consumers on real-time market research platform Suzy, as well as individuals on our LinkedIn network, a series of questions during Black History Month to uncover how they really want to see brands responding to pressing issues surrounding racial justice during BHM and beyond.
See our key findings below:
Many brands spoke out for racial equality during Black History Month, but systemic change requires much more than words and actions during the 28 days of February. We asked our LinkedIn network: If a brand has not spoken out and taken action to support Black Lives over the past year, should they be silent during Black History Month?
Nearly ⅔ said “yes.”
We received a similar sentiment from a panel of 500 American consumers on Suzy, with nearly 2/3 respondents saying they feel more negatively toward a brand that spotlights the Black community ONLY during Black History Month.
The bottom line? It’s vital for brands to push forward racial justice every day, every month. One month will never make up for the other eleven.
How are brands supposed to know where to start their fight for racial equity? We turned to our LinkedIn network to help uncover which issues brands should prioritize: when given the option of the following actions - distributing COVID-19 vaccines, employing diverse leadership, contributing to police reform or supporting Black businesses - nearly 70% said that brands should prioritize employing diverse leadership.
When we asked 500 consumers, a majority said they want brands to prioritize selling and highlighting merchandise made by Black creators. Marketplaces like Google, and Etsy, and brands including Bombas and New Balance, have proven themselves to be leaders in this category by highlighting black-created and black-owned products on their websites.
OBERLAND found that 72% of Americans believe that brands perpetuate stereotypes about Black people in advertising. To put an end to this cycle of misinformation, brands must rethink the way they present Black people - and all BIPOC individuals - in their advertising and content.
When we asked our LinkedIn network how brands can support this effort, a majority said that brands should show BIPOC individuals in a more realistic array of situations in advertising and content. Some examples include featuring more black women with their natural hair, increasing overall representation of LatinX individuals and featuring more Black men as business or company leaders. As a secondary action, our LinkedIn followers also want to see brands better highlight the unique challenges of BIPOC individuals. This can come as internal efforts, like DE&I workshops and showcasing how your company’s workplace and culture is equitable to all.