Call-out culture: Consumers challenging brands and their values

Call-out culture: Consumers challenging brands and their values

Social media has always amplified the voice of the people, but lately it seems that the volume has been turned all the way up. Consumers actively challenging brands on their values online seems to be on the rise (think about the social media outcry when Coles was perceived to backflip on their plastic bag ban).

Behind this intensification of call-out culture lies a subtle but profound change in consumer expectations. People have always been driven to hold brands to account – especially big brands – for how they do business and use power. But consumers are now headed towards a mindset where brand neutrality on tough social and ethical issues is no longer enough.

Consumers are increasingly looking for brands to stand for something instead of sitting on the moral sidelines while turning a profit. With some causes, such as sustainability, new research even shows consumers expect business, rather than government, to lead the way.

What does this mean for brands? Well, call-out culture is seeing brands work harder than ever to prove themselves worthy of consumers’ love. For example, Facebook this year rolled out a campaign to highlight their adoption of upgraded data privacy standards. This attempt to woo disenchanted users back by proving it has changed saw the social network showcasing its new and improved principles across out-of-home and TV ad campaigns.

Suffice to say brands may not be able to afford neutrality on contentious moral issues for much longer. For many consumers, business is now more personal than ever, and they’ll look to spend their hard-earned dollars with a brand which stands for the same things they do.