More growth, less risk: Put customers ahead of politics

August 24, 2022

Real customers care about quality, price, and service

For years, corporate America has been swayed by the push and pull of partisan politics. Major decisions have been made in response to a culture that demands acquiescence or cancellation.

But we believe in a different approach, one that maximizes growth and profits while minimizing risk: Putting the needs of real customers first, because consumers don’t care about politics – but they do care about quality, price, and service.

Below are the highlights from our recent essay on the subject, including research, real-world examples, and expert interviews.

Consumer research is clear

  • At the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, Axios revealed which corporations Americans trust most. The winners did one thing: they gave customers what they wanted, from cleanliness (Clorox), home work and education (Netflix, Zoom), and sanitized delivery (Amazon, FedEx) and grocery experiences (Costco, Wegmans). To quote Axios: “Industries with a prominent role in life under quarantine” saw “especially big jumps” in consumer trust.
  • In late 2020, the multinational research group McKinsey found that while one-third of Americans changed the source of their purchased goods, their reasons were consistently based around matters like value provided and convenience to purchase.
  • And, finally, last year PwC found that just 19% of customers were driven by liberal political values, whereas nearly half of consumers prioritized values such as accountability, communication and consistency.

So are real-world business examples

While whole industries struggled to overcome supply-chain challenges last year, luxury car companies thrived. Their secret sauce was nothing more than Business 101 – delivering the cars customers wanted on time, thanks to a long-term investment in computer chips and supply chain continuity.

As entrepreneur Lee Rashkin, who turned a regional company into a national industry powerhouse, put it: “…[C]onsumers—and, therefore, sales—are driven less by social activism and far more by timeless core business values.”

Even companies known for their politics succeed by focusing on what customers want. Starbucks and Chick-fil-A have made extraordinary politeness and a relaxing customer experience, respectively, their core market differentiators.

Customers don’t care about politics

As our essay pointed out, there’s tremendous brand risk to engaging in politics…and none in treating people right, paying your staff well, and developing a culture of accountability.

Companies succeed best by building trust with real customers, not trolls and haters.

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