In a new report by Accenture, a professional services company, analysts found that 43% of consumers will walk away when disappointed by a brand’s words or actions on a social issue, which matters now more than ever.

Bill Theofilou, Global Growth & Corporate Strategy Lead at Accenture, says, “the social contract between business and society has been changing over the past several years, and COVID-19 has further accelerated that evolution.”

Attitudes about COVID and social reform separate the companies that say silent or merely say “nice” things from those who mean it and make an effort to do the “right” things.

How companies respond to the global environment and communicate with their customers is an “empathetic way of explaining how they’re thinking about their customers and building their confidence.”

This doesn’t mean just saying something to say something or pulling something out of you-know-where not to stay silent. Your mom has it right, if you haven’t got anything to say, don’t say it.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we (and probably you too) received tons of emails from companies that we didn’t even know we were a part of their mailing list (some of you might even be thinking that about us). Emails that flaunt this or that sale, or telling us to book our summer vacation now. These communications are usually irrelevant and tone-deaf. It made us want to say, “Dear company, postpone your automated emails ASAP,” which seems like the general sentiment of the consumer now more than ever.

Accenture identified four themes regarding company purpose and sustainability in their report:

  • The first is purpose accelerated. 65% of consumers and customers want businesses to take a stand on the issues that matter to them.
  • The second theme regards Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The hierarchy represents a move from basic needs to self-fulfillment needs. The purposes and needs that people are concerned with are health, wellness, and employment, which are physiological and safety needs.
  • The third theme is how people have come together and how companies have come together during COVID. There’s an expectation now that companies will focus on the entire ecosystem – not just their employees, but their consumers, their suppliers, everyone a part of their responsibility.
  • The fourth theme is brands being redefined now based on the actions of leadership, the actions of employees, and the actions companies are taking.

The current climate and the rising expectations of consumers are revolutionizing what a company stands for in business. Business is never just business.