How Social Movements Impact Business | KERA News

How Social Movements Impact Business

Jun 18, 2020

Even when protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd fade from the headlines, demonstrators hope to use their wallets to continue pushing their message.

In the age of social media, it's easier than ever for companies to market themselves, but it's also easier for consumers to push back on companies that don't share their values.

Elton Briggs is a professor and department chair of marketing at the University of Texas at Arlington.

"Many companies have liked to remain relatively silent on these issues, not to rock the boat, not to offend any particular customer base, you know? And this is one of those times where consumers are demanding that you show yourselves," Briggs said.

In a Morning Consult poll released last week, 70% of respondents said a CEO's public reaction to an issue, like the Black Lives Matter movement, would permanently affect their decision to buy from that company.

Briggs said that's particularly important in the service industry, since businesses like hotels and restaurants create an atmosphere.

"I can oftentimes buy a stapler and I don't necessarily care where the stapler came from, but again to patronize the service, it's a lot more intimate in a sense," he said.

The Omni Dallas Hotel on Lamar Street, June 18, 2020.
Credit Keren Carrion / KERA News

In Dallas, a Change.org petition to display "Black Lives Matter" on the outside of the Omni Hotel has collected almost 12,000 signatures, but the hotel hasn't said whether it'll display the message.

"At this point, they're doing more damage by not speaking than speaking, given the societal trend that's happening," Briggs said.

Other North Texas businesses — like the Dallas Mavericks, American Airlines and AT&T — have come out in support of the movement.

But some activists say it's not enough for businesses to speak out. They want to see changes to support black employees within the companies.

Got a tip? Email Rebekah Morr at rmorr@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @bekah_morr.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.