How Helping Refugees Helps Brands: United States

By Tülin Erdem, Vishal Singh, Çağdaş Şirin, and Poppy Zhang

Given the polarization around refugee resettlement in the United States, companies may be concerned that supporting refugees could alienate certain consumers. However, U.S. consumers exhibit a surprising level of support for brands that help refugees, indicating that brands can “do good,” by making positive contributions in the lives of refugees, and “do well,” by attracting consumer support at the same time.

Research was authored by faculty and scholars at the NYU Stern School of Business.

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This report, authored by faculty and scholars at the NYU Stern School of Business, demonstrates that American consumers, particularly millennials, are more likely to purchase from companies that hire refugees, invest in refugee enterprises, and deliver services to refugees. The report, titled “How Helping Refugees Helps Brands,” utilized an online survey of more than 7,000 diverse U.S. consumers to analyze consumer perception of business leadership on refugees, and it revealed that business support for refugees almost always has a net positive effect on U.S. consumers’ purchase intentions.

Key conclusions from the report:

  • Brands can consider making commitments to support refugees, knowing that, on net, U.S. consumers support these actions and are more likely to purchase from them.
  • U. S. consumers – especially millennial consumers – do not discriminate significantly among most types of business support for refugees. Therefore, brands can focus on projects that best align with their business operations and brand values and yield the greatest impact for refugees.
  • Brands with a significant proportion of millennial consumers, female consumers, or consumers of color, are likely to see particular support for projects to help refugees.
  • Instead of ruling out efforts to support refugees, brands with a significant proportion of conservative consumers or consumers in their mid-fifties or older should consider efforts to support refugees overseas, which are likely to trigger less opposition from these consumer demographics. 

Our findings demonstrate that overall, when brands and companies take steps to support refugees, American consumers are more likely to purchase from them. Download our report to learn more.