Seven Business Challenges In A Divided America

divided America small business challenges

Ramifications for business operations, brands and for winning customers.


Editor’s note: This piece represents the position of the author. Latin Business Today continues to share the spectrum of insights from its contributors to provide a window of business challenges from multiple perspectives.  

Election 2016 revealed a divided America.  What are the ramifications for your business operations, brand and ability to win customers?

Here are seven challenges businesses now confront:

1.  Fake News.

Fake news is the purposeful posting of unsubstantiated claims to create an emotional connection. The use of fake news in this election has reshaped social media. The shoe company New Balance provides an illustration.

New Balance executive Matthew LeBetton made the following comment on the proposed TransPacific trade deal: “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us, and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.” His quote created a social media firestorm.

Then a white supremacist website posted the fake news that New Balance was the official shoe of white people.

The importance of the New Balance example is that this could happen to your business even if you do not make political comments. Fake news is posted daily across social media channels covering the widest range of business issues including globalization, climate change and diversity. Facts and evidence appear to offer little defense.

All businesses must immediately begin working on social media, PR and marketing plans for dealing with fake news.

2.  Sensitivity Training.

Starbucks and a Florida real estate remodeler provide a cautionary example that brand risks in a divided America have increased.

The remodeler’s claim of “white discrimination” against a Starbucks barista serving him coffee generated a firestorm of social media finger pointing that has damage the brand of both Starbucks and the remodeler. Sensitivity training for all associates on how to work in an emotionally divisive social environment is now an imperative.

3.  Research your customers’ societal hot buttons.

Emotions are raw in America.

Never has it been more important to know your customers’ societal hot buttons. A classic example is our flag. Is it a patriotic symbol to your customers?

Or is it a symbol of distrust or disillusionment? If our flag can be this divisive then think about all of the other symbols in your brand. Every company needs market research to identify how their customer’s social hot buttons align with the brand, product advertising and company messaging.

4.  Selling To A Divided Customer Base.

Can any company be a universal brand in today’s divided America?

Even as a small business, can you align with all of your town’s customers?

Answers to these questions may no longer be in your hands. Social media postings, inspired by customers who are “for or against” your company’s values, may force your hand in deciding what customer will be attracted to your company and its products.

Next- Here are challenges businesses 5 throught 7:


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