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As the Gun Violence Debate Continues, More Data Suggests Brands Should Take Stands

leonkaye headshotWords by Leon Kaye
Leadership & Transparency
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As we have recently covered here on TriplePundit, last month’s tragedy in Florida has compelled many companies to take a stand on gun violence. The definition of corporate social responsibility is evolving rapidly - no longer is this movement solely about tabulating a company’s greenhouse gas emissions or improving supply chain transparency.

The debate will continue to rage and citizens will continue to yell at the TV screen based on who the talking heads are on Fox News or MSNBC. But some evidence suggests the debate does not even matter. More data suggests that when it comes to gun violence, consumers are becoming more comfortable with companies and brands taking a stand on this controversy.

According to the research firm Morning Consult, 58 percent of adults polled agree that it is appropriate for brands to wade into the gun control debate. Only one-third of respondents disagreed, with less than 10 percent undecided.

The survey polled 2,200 adults, who were interviewed via an online survey. Morning Consult said the data were weighted to represent a sample of U.S. adults based on age, race or ethnicity, gender, educational level, and the region in which they live.

It is no surprise that almost three-fourths of the respondents who identified as Democrats side with brands taking stands on gun control. Political independents’ sympathies almost mirrored the overall survey pool, agreeing at a rate of 53 percent versus 34 percent who disagreed.

But even amongst self-identified Republicans, there was a split: 46 percent of them agreed with the statement that they were comfortable with brands taking a stand on gun violence; 47 percent disagreed.

Of course, semantics can make a difference in how people respond when polled - far more American sided with efforts to work on “gun violence prevention” than “gun control.” And this is only one survey, even if its respondent pool is perfectly weighed.

Yet brands must keep in mind that the response to any and all policy changes will vary. Morning Consult’s data suggested that after MetLife announced the end of its NRA discount, its overall favorability perception rating ticked upward. Delta, however, faced an overall downward trend in the wake of the controversy over ending its NRA discount and the response of the Georgia State Legislature. Dick’s Sporting Goods witnessed its perception rise or fall based on political affiliation. Meanwhile, Walmart saw its positive sentiment rise across the political divide shortly after it announced that gun buyers would have to be at least 21 years old.

As with any hot-button issue, the challenge companies will continue to face on problems such as gun violence will rest on how well such policy changes are communicated. Nevertheless, insists Morning Consult, 71 percent of its survey respondents said taking stands on social issues, period, is important - whether they are environmental sustainability, gender or LGBT equality or health care access. What is clear is that staying silent or “neutral” is no longer an option.

Image credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye, Executive Editor, has written for Triple Pundit since 2010. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media, and the Editor in Chief of CR Magazine. His previous work can be found at The GuardianSustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye