Millennials want firms to take a stand on social issues

By Gary Dinges - American-Statesman Staff

 Dick’s Sporting Goods has several Austin-area stores.

Dick’s Sporting Goods has several Austin-area stores.

Millennials expect corporations to take a strong stance on controversial social issues, according to a new study from an Austin-based marketing firm.

That’s a departure from past generations, who largely have preferred that the companies they do business with stay apolitical.

The EnviroMedia poll looked specifically at working millenials’ opinions of major sporting goods chains a month after Pittsburgh-based Dick’s Sporting Goods removed assault-style weapons from its stores, boosted the minimum age to buy any type of gun to 21 and urged lawmakers to strengthen gun-control laws.

The company’s moves came after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was arrested and charged with shooting and killing 17 students and teachers Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Dick’s has several Central Texas locations, including at The Domain and in Cedar Park.

“Dick’s took a big risk, especially taking a stand just before reporting disappointing holiday sales,” EnviroMedia co-founder and CEO Valerie Salinas-Davis said. “But this poll certainly suggests they may be converting a few young consumers to their brand, as the overall retail market struggles.”

For its poll, EnviroMedia got responses from 400 Americans across the country ages 22 to 34.

Dick’s has a 19 percent share of the sporting goods market, but EnviroMedia said that 32 percent of working millennials claim the chain as their preferred sporting goods store.

EnviroMedia found that the closest competitor, Bass Pro Shops, has a 14 percent market share. It was the favorite sporting goods store for 10 percent of people polled.

The poll is the first in a series EnviroMedia plans to conduct, measuring the interrelations between various brands and trending social issues.

“We chose working millenials as our first target audience because they’re just starting their adult lives and thinking about buying cars, homes and consumer goods for their households and growing families,” said Suzie Lopez, media director for EnviroMedia. “We’ve also heard how millennials care so much about social issues, so we decided to see just how much they’re talking about them and if there are any connections to their favorite brands.

The survey results didn’t surprise Salinas-Davis, but she said it likely will surprise a number of retailers.

“It’s not news that brands need to stand for something,” she said. “But it’s becoming a new reality that consumers are turning more and more to Corporate America to help make positive social change that the political establishment cannot.

“The more civic action that takes hold among millennials this year, the more they will expect Corporate America to stand for something, and if it’s authentic and communicated appropriately, it could be very good business.”

Why Favorite Brands of Millennials Should Give a Damn About Social Issues

Poll Reveals 1/3 of Working Young Americans Have Never Voted

Austin, Texas – A new poll by EnviroMedia Inc. reveals that one-third of America’s young workforce have never voted. However, with school walkouts and major brands like Dick’s Sporting Goods taking a stand to change gun control laws, civic apathy among young working consumers could very likely change in 2018–and it could be very good for business.

“In the past few days, we saw high school students walking out for stronger gun control, declaring in widespread media coverage, ‘I’m 18, and I’m going to vote this year so we can change these laws,’” said EnviroMedia Cofounder and CEO Valerie Salinas-Davis.

dicks-sporting-goods.jpeg

EnviroMedia’s poll, fielded March 12, 2018, found Dick’s to be by far the favorite sporting goods store brand among “Working Millennials” and that Dick’s fans are talking more about increasing gun control than the overall audience surveyed.

“Brands With Social Purpose” is the first edition in a new polling series by EnviroMedia measuring the connection between America’s favorite brands and trending social issues. (Pollfish, mobile/online, n=400 Americans, age 22-34, margin of error ±5%)

“We chose Working Millennials as our first target audience because they’re just starting their adult lives and thinking about buying cars, homes, and consumer goods for their households and growing families,” says EnviroMedia Media Director Suzie Lopez. “We’ve also heard how Millennials care so much about social issues, so we decided to see just how much they’re talking about them and if there are any connections to their favorite brands.”

In EnviroMedia’s poll, 32 percent of Working Millennials chose Dick’s as their favorite sporting goods store, while the retail chain controls 19 percent of the market (Retail Dive, March 14, 2018). Meanwhile, Bass Pro Shops and Academy aligned more closely with their respective market shares. Ten percent of Working Millennials chose Bass Pro Shops (14 percent market share), and 9 percent chose Academy (11 percent market share).

Meanwhile, when it comes to how frequently Working Millennials talk with their friends, family and coworkers about “increasing gun control,” 79 percent of Dick’s fans discuss the issue “sometimes” or “often.” Overall, 65 percent discuss increasing gun control “sometimes” or “often.”

“Dick’s took a big risk, especially taking a stand just before reporting disappointing holiday sales, “ says Salinas-Davis. “But this poll certainly suggests they may be converting a few young consumers to their brand, as the overall retail market struggles.”

Other brand categories measured by EnviroMedia’s poll include cars, beverages, cell phones, computers, airlines, pharmacies, and banks/credit cards. In addition to gun control, the poll also measured discussion levels of racial justice/immigration, LGBTQ rights, gender equity, sexual harassment, and the opioids crisis.

“It’s not news that brands need to stand for something,” says Salinas-Davis. “But it’s becoming a new reality that consumers are turning more and more to corporate America to help make positive social change that the political establishment cannot. The more civic action that takes hold among Millennials this year, the more they will expect corporate America to stand for something, and if it’s authentic and communicated appropriately, it could be very good for business.”