Why Going Woke Makes Your Business Go Broke
Most people think the phrase “get woke, go broke” is all about prominently liberal companies turning off their more conservative customers. Of course, that does happen. Remember when Gillette decided to give a snobby lecture to its customers about bullying and toxic masculinity?
That got a lot of attention. What didn’t get as much attention is the company’s share of the razor market dropped to its lowest level since 2005 afterward. A lot of people, myself included, were insulted enough by the ad that they stopped buying Gillette Razors. That added up to 350 million dollars worth of sales vaporized.
Could that be what’s happening with the NFL and NBA? That certainly seems possible. Since unpatriotic NFL and NBA players started protesting the flag, both leagues have seen two constants. The first is consistently lower ratings and the second is liberals blaming it on everything under the sun OTHER THAN the leagues getting woke.
When Target made a big, splashy announcement that it wanted transgender customers to use whatever bathroom they wanted, the blowback was so ferocious they ended up paying to install gender-neutral bathrooms in all of their stores (which is what critics initially suggested). In other words, they had to spend large amounts of money to create a workaround for the public relations nightmare created by their woke policy. Meanwhile, there are still tens of millions of Americans that have a negative opinion of Target because of it.
You can find story after story after story like this, but contrary to what many people think, it’s only one-half of the problem. Yes, if a business goes out of their way to let everyone know how woke they are, it may alienate a certain number of their current and future customers. However, the payoff is supposed to be that it appeals to the younger, more liberal demographic and if you get to them now, you can hook them for life! So what if the conservative mom and dad are angry if you get their more liberal son and daughter? We all know who’s living the longest – and more importantly to these corporations – buying products the longest, right?
The problem with this sort of thinking is that the woke tidal wave of loyal new customers seldom seems to materialize. Why? Well, consider who these corporations are trying to appeal to in the first place. Young, perpetually outraged far left-wingers with attention spans akin to toddlers. Today, they’re ranting about someone not wearing a mask, tomorrow they’re angry about a microaggression, and the next day they’re upset someone made a “racist” joke in 2017. People like this are not favorably disposed towards corporations to begin with and they also tend to be highly intolerant of any deviation from whatever the latest hip thing is in the “woke” world. Any corporation that thinks they’re going to turn these individuals into loyal customers by catering to them on the “woke” issue of the day is going to find out that it just leads to a never-ending series of demands to stay in their good graces.
One day, the woke may love Google for an ideologically motivated decision to kick Parler out of their app store. Next thing you know, the cool thing for the woke to do is be angry at Google because Donald Trump was allowed to run ads that liberals didn’t like on the world’s biggest search engine. It’s always going to be something. Is there any corporation that really thinks it can make the same people demanding we tear down statues of George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Ulysses S. Grant happy? Their branding is a lot better than any corporation will ever have and it doesn’t help them one bit with the world’s most easily offended people.
On top of all that, it’s not like these corporations are putting one over on everyone. People are so aware of what’s going on that they make jokes about it.
At the end of the day, there may be a handful of corporations like Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, Disney, or Chick-fil-A that are so outstanding at what they do that they can survive DESPITE being perceived as political, but very few corporations are going to benefit from making a show of wading into politics. Of course, therein lies the secret. It’s not about adopting some political value for marketing reasons that will endear a corporation to people, it’s about providing value to their customers. Ultimately, people keep coming back because of nostalgic memories of a product, being able to go somewhere to find that thing they need over and over, or just generally getting something from a company faster, cheaper, more conveniently, or at a higher quality level than other corporations can provide it. Do you want customers for life? That’s how you do it, not by slapping rainbow flags and “Black Lives Matter” all over your corporate website.
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