Dutch Consumers Expect Businesses to Take an Active Role in Social Discussions

Defending an unpopular stance is also appreciated

A large majority of Dutch consumers expect businesses to participate in important social discussions that are currently in the media. Even if a company’s point of view does not match an individual’s personal view, most Dutch consumers still retain a positive opinion of the company. About half the Dutch population is currently concerned about poverty and care for the elderly. These concerns are followed by environmental care and climate change; topics that were mentioned by over a third of the respondents in a survey commissioned by Omnicom PR Group, among more than 1,000 Dutch citizens. The results are representative of the whole of the Netherlands and are weighted on gender, age, level of education, and region.

This survey concluded that 89 percent of the respondents still remain loyal to a company even the company’s stance does not correspond with their own opinion. In that case, 26 percent perceive it positively that a company dares to engage in a social debate. Even if a company’s point of view does not match their personal views, many Dutch consumers still retain a positive opinion of the company. The survey shows that only 11 percent would stop buying products and services in that case. Just 21 percent of respondents think that it is completely unnecessary for a company to take a stance in social debates.

Words combined with actions

This research indicates that, according to the Dutch population, businesses cannot longer remain silent about important social discussions. However, a company must be credible in taking a stance. For Dutch consumers this means that companies need to demonstrate their values with specific actions (57%). It is therefore very important that words are also followed by actions.

Top 5 social themes

The top 5 concerns of Dutch society today are:

  1. Care for the elderly (52%)
  2. Poverty (44%)
  3. The environment (37%)
  4. Climate change (37%)
  5. Human rights (33%)

According to the respondents, the most important topics on which a company should take a stance, are: climate change (21%), environment/care for the elderly (20%) and poverty (17%).

Marjolein Rigter, responsible for Reputation Management & Purpose with Omnicom PR Group: “We see that businesses are sometimes hesitant in speaking out about issues that are of concern in society. Yet it is really rewarding. Even if there is a difference of opinion, many people are still inclined to remain loyal to a company, provided the company explains clearly why it is adopting a position. Take Nike, for example, not everyone agreed with their point of view, but if you look at their share price, they haven’t suffered from it.

In our daily practice, we see that our customers are increasingly concerned about purpose. There is a lot of international research into purpose, but little has been done on the Dutch front yet, even though Dutch people perceive purpose from an specific cultural perspective. This survey will help us guiding our clients.”


If you would like to know more about the survey and the results, or talk to one of our communication experts, please contact Marjolein Aalbers. ([email protected]).