Following the 2020 election, brands still need to be careful when wading into potentially dangerous waters. A key part of President elect Joe Biden’s message is unity. However, while a notable cause, unity may be hard for brands to tout given the current climate in the country.
For example, Gap recently tweeted a picture of a “half-red, half-blue hoodie getting zipped up in a symbol of togetherness with the caption, ‘The one thing we know, is that together, we can move forward,” according to an article from Marketing Dive. The brand received a swift backlash online, causing it to quickly delete the vanilla call for unity.
A politician calling for unity in this environment may be received very differently than a company doing so. Marketers need to be diligent to avoid such minefields. One observer quoted in the article suggested many marketers will embrace a message of togetherness, but in the context of their own product.”
Further, brands that have been more outspoken the last few years need to keep in mind that while Biden may be friendlier to progressive values than Donald Trump, he is still not Bernie Sanders, meaning he is not the first choice of many liberals. “The number of companies that will explicitly endorse a Biden agenda will likely remain slim, as the risk of alienating a split consumer base is too high,” according to the Marketing Dive article.
Lessons for Marketers from Presidential Polling
The results of the 2016 and 2020 elections have many questioning the validity of pre-election polling, and errors that led to such large misses. This raises the question: do marketers, who rely on data about their potential customers and the market, have a similar blind spot?
The Pew Research Center examined the 2020 election polls and offered some explanations as to why it was so off, according to a recent article from MediaPost. In short, Pew found that pollsters failed to appropriately adjust for the fact that Democratic voters were more willing to respond to polls than Republican voters.
There may have been other reasons as well, such as some Republicans’ distrust of media organizations, which sponsored many polls. This could lead some respondents to avoid the polls or to not provide reliable or honest responses.
Many marketing organizations rely on data, including survey results, when developing marketing strategy or even new products. If a significant segment of the population is underrepresented, or not represented at all, this could impact business results.
This creates significant challenges for marketers. “Don’t treat one survey as conclusive, but rather as a guideline to dig in even further,” the article notes. “Consider all types of behavior, and understand that people across the U.S. need to feel reassured that their opinions are taken seriously.”