Brand activism and millennials: an empirical investigation into the perception of millennials towards brand activism

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The reckless pursuit of social, environmental, political and cultural issues and brands may alienate the very customer base, whom they try to impress, especially the millennials. Hence, this study intends to study the perceptions of millennials towards brand activism, so that the findings from the study can help the brand managers to steer their brands into the troubled waters of brand activism. The methodology followed is HTAB (Hypothesize, Test, Action, Business), a popular analysis framework given by Ken Black in his book titled “Business Statistics: Contemporary Decision Making (6th ed.)” A sample comprising of 286 respondents was collected. The final data had 286 observations and 45 features across seven categories.

It was found that millennials prefer to buy a brand if it supports a cause or purpose and they stop buying if brand behaves unethically. It was also observed that there is no gender difference amongst the millennials towards their perceptions concerning brand activism. Moreover, millennials across different income categories have similar perceptions of brand activism. It was also substantiated that the emotional tie of the millennials with the brand existing for a cause goes beyond price shifts and brands taking a political stance, cherry-picking of issues and being disruptive prompts and creates profound backlash for the brands.

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    • Figure 1. HTAB (Hypothesize, Test, Action, Business) framework
    • Figure 2. Distribution of variables by types
    • Table 1. A snapshot of data dictionary
    • Table 2. KMO and Bartlett’s test
    • Table 3. Rotated component matrix
    • Table 4. Distribution of brand activism response
    • Table 5. Millennials prefer to buy brands that actively invest in manifesting activism
    • Table 6. The liking for activism driven brands spans across genders amongst millennials
    • Table 7. The liking for activism driven brands spans across different income levels amongst the millennials
    • Table 8. Millennials are willing to pay high price for brands associated with activism
    • Table 9. Fake and insincere brand activism triggers backlash among the millennials
    • Table 10. Millennials feel that the brands should add their business voice to socio-cultural, political and environmental causes