Political society

FleishmanHillard report reveals a divided generation and explores how to bridge the divides in society

Brands find themselves crippled in a landscape separated by culture wars, but new research published today by FleishmanHillard shows that companies need to be braver to overcome these issues in order to stay culturally relevant without losing authenticity to consumers.

FleishmanHillard’s latest study, Authentic Insights: The Cultural Divide, Introducing Generation Dproduced in partnership with Kai D. Wright of Columbia University, puts cultural issues at the heart of the research report to better understand how brands can emerge from paralysis on today’s most relevant topics and find a way forward to bridge the current cultural gaps in society.

The study unpacks a new generation, Generation Divided (Gen D), at a time when people not only feel divided within communities; they feel divided within themselves. The context of a polarized world has been well established in recent times, with clear societal divisions increasingly influencing professional and personal lives. The state of division that surrounds us has a clear impact on our state of internal flow and what is good and what is not. Today, 60% of consumers believe that people compromise their true selves by being too politically correct, and almost half (47%) believe that it is increasingly difficult to get along with people who have divergent opinions. Generation Divided was discovered through FleishmanHillard’s unique research selection process that moved away from standard demographic divisions based on age and gender. Instead, it looked at a range of factors, including socio-economic indicators, gender identity, and religious and political beliefs, to ensure that all aspects of humanity are reflected in the research.

“In this era of revival, action and words are the minimum expectations for continued connections with your business and your brand,” said Candace Peterson, global brand manager at FleishmanHillard. “We find many brands in a state of stalled development, unsure how to move forward amid so many cultural divides and so much reputation at stake. The latest research from our Culture unit at FleishmanHillard explores this tension. not only how companies should view culture, but also how these cultural divides can be used as a stepping stone to building their brand reputation and remaining, or even becoming, culturally relevant.

Key findings from the survey include:

– While 67% of respondents wanted brands to be empathetic, 78% felt that being authentic was even more important.

– More than half (55%) think brands should release fewer updates/new products in the next year.

– Although 61% of consumers would choose an employer based on their willingness to take a stand on societal issues, almost as many also agree that employers often fake their interest in DE&I and other societal issues (55%).

“Ultimately, brand and business leaders must be prepared to be uncomfortable – ready to change the practices, processes and policies of producing, publishing and evaluating the effectiveness of the work,” said Kai D. Wright, a professor at Columbia University. “No leader knows the best path for every community, and no business team is from every global culture. Continuous learning is inherent in leadership to be culturally relevant. Through this report and study, we explore the drivers that fuel a growing cultural divide between communities; understand how to anticipate, thrive and accelerate through ever-constant “change”; and dive into the role brands and businesses play in bridging the cultural divide to solve societal problems .

The Authentic Insights: The Culture Gap, Introducing Gen D report was developed by FleishmanHillard’s Culture Unit, a global team of macro-cultural strategists who empower brands to be brave and take action while reflecting on the cause they communicate. The report follows the Unit’s first industry partnerships with inclusive talent agency Zebedee and the United Nations’ Unstereotype Alliance. Ongoing partnerships like these create authentic behavior change that allows FleishmanHillard to help shape a better world.

The research was conducted by FleishmanHillard TRUE Global Intelligence, the agency’s in-house research firm, in conjunction with an accredited third-party provider, who interviewed 5,000 adults – aged 18 and over – in the US, UK United Kingdom, China, Germany and Brazil (1,000 per country). The research survey was designed to move away from standard demographic divisions based on age and gender, and instead examined communities across commonalities on a range of factors, including socio-economic indicators, gender identity, religious beliefs and political leanings to ensure that all conditions of humanity are reflected in the research. The survey consisted of two separate 25-question surveys, which respondents completed online from September 15-20.

The report can be read and downloaded here.