WHAT THE DATA SAY: 58% believe ESG is a 'wedge word' dividing America
By: Ray Day
We wanted to share our latest consumer and business insights, based on research from Stagwell. Among the highlights of our weekly consumer sentiment tracking:
INFLATION REMAINS TOP NATIONAL CONCERN
Inflation is still hitting Americans across the political spectrum, according to our most recent poll with the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University.
- Americans say inflation is the most important issue facing the country (33%), as well as the most important issue to them personally (39%).
- 75%, including more than 70% from each party, think the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates enough.
- 50% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans believe the U.S. economy remains on the wrong track.
- Half (50%) of Americans say their personal financial situation is getting worse, up from 47% in July.
- While the country remains divided politically, Americans agree on immigration and parental rights: 71% of voters, including 53% of Democrats, think illegal immigration to the U.S. is getting worse.
- 87%, including more than 80% of each party, agree parents have a right to know if their children want to transition their gender.
- Despite being put in the middle of political debates, teachers have strong reputation: 60% of Americans say teachers are mostly trying to help kids get a better education, not push an ideology onto them.
IS THE ECONOMY WORSE THAN THE MEDIA COVERAGE?
Americans don’t trust the government’s economic news – or the media’s reporting of it, according to our Harris Poll survey with The Guardian.
- 65% of Americans believe that the economy is worse than the media makes it out to be – including 49% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans and 66% of Independents.
- At the same time, Americans have an inaccurate understanding about the economy: More Americans (wrongfully) believe the U.S. economy is shrinking (59% say it is shrinking) and that the unemployment rate is nearing a 50-year high (51% believe this).
- 68% of Americans said it’s difficult to be happy about positive economic news when they feel financially squeezed each month (Republicans at 69% and Democrats at 68%).
WEDGE WORDS ARE DIVIDING US
Words matter, and terms like “cancel culture,” “woke” and “ESG” are becoming political lightning rods, according to the latest research from Stagwell’s Risk and Reputation Unit.
- 58% of Americans – including 71% of Republicans and 43% of Democrats – believe the term “ESG” divides people more than it brings them together. “Sustainability” is less polarizing – with 27% believing the term has the potential to divide.
- “DEI” also is a wedge word for 47% of Americans – including 56% of Republicans and 35% of Democrats.
- Wedge words are expected to become more of an issue as the 2024 U.S. election cycle accelerates and political polarization grows.
- To protect reputation from political backlash: 1) know your customer – 44% of Americans view it to be very important to prioritize stakeholders when it comes to social issues; 2) live your values – 44% want a company to live its values in all areas of operations; 3) bring people together – 35% say what’s most important is focusing on unifying social messages and programs; 4) don’t flip-flop – with 35% of Americans saying it’s very important that a company refuses to backtrack on social stances once it takes a position; and 5) back it up – with 30% agreeing that having a proven track record is the best defense against backlash.
- To help businesses navigate the road ahead, Stagwell’s Risk and Reputation Unit is conducting off-the-record, in-person briefings for C-suite executives seeking intelligence about business risks heading into the 2024 election. To join one of the forums, send us an e-mail.
TRUST IN AI ERODES FURTHER
Public trust in AI continues to decline, based on our latest Harris Poll survey with MITRE.
- 39% of U.S. adults indicate that they believe today’s AI technologies are safe and secure, down 9 points from our last MITRE survey in November.
- Overall, Americans are more concerned than excited about the technology: While 51% of men, 57% of Gen Z and 62% of Millennials say they are more excited than concerned, only 40% of women, 42% of Gen X, and 30% of Boomers agree.
- Gen Z (54%) and Millennials (58%) are willing to use AI to perform everyday tasks, yet a much lower percentage of Gen X (39%) and Boomers (30%) are willing to do so.
- This gap widens with applications like AI in cars: 51% of Gen Z and Millennials are comfortable with autonomous rideshare vehicles, compared with 32% of Gen X and 20% of Boomers.
- 80% worry about AI being used for cyber-attacks, 78% worry about it being used for identity theft, and 74% worry about it being used to create deceptive political ads.
- Only 46% believe AI technologies are ready for use in mission-critical applications for defense and national security, down 8% from November 2022.
- All Americans – even younger adults – support more AI safeguards assurance and regulation: 78% of Gen Z and 82% of Millennials support regulation, along with 86% of Gen X and 90% of Boomers.
TWITTER BY ANY OTHER NAME
The Twitter name is hard to change in the minds of users, according to our Harris Poll survey with Ad Age.
- 79% of X users know about the rebrand, yet 69% still refer to the platform as Twitter and posts as “tweets.”
- 49% say that X’s content is “more negative now than before Elon Musk’s acquisition.”
- Still, for those users on both X and Threads, 69% prefer X.
- Trust in Government Institutions Declines
- Stagwell’s Assembly: 2024 election cycle will be the most expensive in history
- Nearly Half of All Young Adults Live With Mom and Dad — and They Like It
- Nine of 10 Companies Face Problems with Payment Operations, 39% Still Manual
- Bill Knapp, Partner at SKDK, on 40+ Years as an Admaker
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