The Los Angeles Times this weekend had a story about Patagonia's activism; the piece starts this way:
"Politics has always been a minefield for businesses. But it used to be one they could avoid.
"Three decades ago, it was all but unheard of for a major consumer brand to stake out a position on a hot-button culture war issue. Today, they’re increasingly finding such positions thrust on them by societal upheavals too big to simply ignore and activist customer bases demanding expressions of solidarity and meaningful action.
"The rise of conscious capitalism has bred in younger consumers, particularly, an expectation that the companies seeking their dollars should share their values.
"Meanwhile, the hyper-partisan polarization of everything from sneakers to coffee means even 'safe' causes can turn controversial in an instant, and silence is no refuge, with companies that avoid engaging on social issues apt to be tagged as complicit.
It’s all a little daunting for companies hoping to make sales, not headlines."
But Patagonia, the Times writes, not only is willing to enter the minefield, but is willing to embrace the risks that accompany these moves … precisely because its leadership does not seen any risk in being true to their own values, appealing to people who share their values, and not worrying about losing customers who don't.
You can read the piece here.
- KC's View:
One thing that everybody needs to remember is that if you like the idea of businesses supporting causes that you believe in, you also have to accept the idea that there will be businesses that support causes with which you disagree. Works both ways, and you have to accept that.
Which is why this is such a dicey area for many businesses.
The reason it works for businesses like Patagonia and, say, Ben & Jerry's, is that the activism is built in to their DNA. The most important thing that businesses have to think about when they take a stand that could alienate some customers is authenticity.