How do Americans feel about brands changing racist names

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
June 18, 2020, 8:14 PM UTC

Some of America’s most long-standing brands are trying to move beyond simple statements about racial discord in the United States by changing their names and logos.  Americans appear split on such changes. 

Quaker Oats announced in June that it would make changes to its Aunt Jemima brand and Mars Inc. rolled out similar plans regarding its Uncle Ben’s brand. A new YouGov survey of more than 4,700 US adults shows 46 percent support a brand replacing an icon related to a racial stereotype (e.g., name, logo, image). 

Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 are especially likely (54%) to support such a move compared to other age groups. Support for replacing brand iconography is also split along party lines: 60 percent of Democrats support it, compared to 24 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Independents.  

Other brands with racialized mascots are also exploring significant makeovers, such as Mrs. Butterworth and Cream of Wheat. 

YouGov data shows Americans in general are in favor of changing brand names and images more than other measures such as releasing a public statement (33%) or donating to causes, charities, or communities that address racial inequality (35%). 

Roughly a third (32%) of Americans would not support a brand doing any of these things. 

Meanwhile, wading into political waters can be a risky proposition for any brand, but that risk is decreasing as consumers – particularity young ones – are keen to know where brands stand, according to YouGov Profiles data on the subject. On the flipside, white older Americans are the most likely (65%) to think brands that express political or social views are just exploiting the issues. 

Roughly half (47%) of white Americans age 18-29 agree with that statement, along with 45 percent of black Americans, 56 percent of Hispanic Americans and 49% of Asian Americans in the same age group. 

Methodology: 4,707 US adults were asked “If a brand’s name or image is widely considered to reinforce racist stereotypes, which of the following actions would you support from the brand?” between June 17 – 18, 2020. 

36,385 US Adults were asked their agreement level with the statement: “I like brands that are willing to get involved in social issues.” The sample includes 26,137 White Americans, 3,561 black Americans, 3,977 Hispanic Americans, 1,297 Asian Americans.

Imge: Getty