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Sociopolitical activist brands

Holger Joerg Schmidt (Hochschule Koblenz, Koblenz, Germany)
Nicholas Ind (Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway)
Francisco Guzmán (University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Eric Kennedy (Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 1 April 2021

Issue publication date: 6 January 2022




This paper aims to shed light on the emerging position of companies taking stances on sociopolitical issues and the impact this has on consumers.


The paper uses focus groups, interviews and consumer experiments in various countries, to provide insights as to why brands are taking sociopolitical stances.


Consumers expect brands to take a stance on sociopolitical issues. However, to be credible, a stance needs to be rooted in a long-term commitment that aligns with the brand’s strategy and values. Perceived authenticity is key.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies should aim at broader generalizability and should address various industries.

Practical implications

Differentiating a brand through a sociopolitical stance requires a strategic approach. Brand managers need to identify which issues they should support, how to engage with them and the risks and opportunities involved.


While the impact of brands adopting a sociopolitical stance has been discussed in the mainstream media, there has been a lack of empirical evidence to support the arguments. The results of the four studies discussed in the paper provide insights and demonstrate the brand-related opportunities and risks of taking a sociopolitical stance.



Schmidt, H.J., Ind, N., Guzmán, F. and Kennedy, E. (2022), "Sociopolitical activist brands", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 40-55.



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