Press Releases

New Research Shows U.S. Consumers Prefer Brands that Support Refugees

Cover of the How Helping Refugees Helps Brands Report

Report from the Tent Partnership for Refugees and NYU Stern demonstrates that when brands support refugees, American consumers – particularly millennials – are more likely to purchase their products

Supporting refugees is not just charity but helping refugees can be good for business.

Report from the Tent Partnership for Refugees and NYU Stern demonstrates that when brands support refugees, American consumers – particularly millennials – are more likely to purchase their products

American consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that support refugees, according to a new report from the NYU Stern School of Business and the Tent Partnership for Refugees. Despite rising polarization on refugee policy in the United States, research shows that consumers, particularly millennials, prefer brands that commit to helping refugees.

The report, “How Helping Refugees Helps Brands,” utilized an online survey of more than 7,000 U.S. consumers to analyze how consumers respond to brands’ efforts to support refugees. The report finds that, across a wide range of demographics, consumers respond positively to a variety of business efforts to support refugees, including hiring refugees, delivering services to refugees, investing in refugee entrepreneurs, and sourcing from refugee businesses.

“This report shows that consumers will reward brands that support refugees,” said Gideon Maltz, Executive Director of the Tent Partnership for Refugees. “In a crowded marketplace, brands that integrate refugees into their business can distinguish themselves from their competitors, especially among millennials. This is a clear demonstration that brands can do well by doing good.”

“Supporting refugees is not just charity but helping refugees can be good for business,” asserted Professor Tülin Erdem, co-author of the report and chair of NYU Stern’s Marketing Department. “It impacts brand image and consumer brand purchase behavior positively. This is consistent with current consumer (especially the millennial consumer) preferences for brands that take a strong stance for social issues and consider the welfare on multiple stakeholders, including the society at large.” 

On average, the younger the consumer, the more positively they respond to brand support for refugees. Millennials, by significant margins, are more likely to purchase a brand if they know the brand is committed to supporting refugees in one or more ways – a powerful finding, given that millennials’ annual spending power is projected to reach $1.4 trillion in the U.S. by 2020. For example, while 48 percent of millennials are more likely to purchase a brand committing to extend financial, educational, or other services to refugees, only 10 percent are less likely to do so. Similarly, 44 percent of millennials are more likely to purchase a brand committing to hire refugees in the United States, compared to 11 percent that are less likely to do so. Overall, the survey indicates overwhelmingly positive reactions to most types of brand support for refugees regardless of age.

The report also finds that consumers’ responses vary depending on whether brands focus on helping refugees in the United States or those overseas. Self-identified conservative consumers and older consumers, for example, are more likely to respond positively to brand commitments to hire refugees overseas. With almost 90 percent of refugees residing in low- and middle-income countries, this highlights another clear path for brands to provide meaningful support for refugees.

The full report can be accessed online.

About the Tent Partnership for Refugees
The Tent Partnership for Refugees, founded by Chobani’s Hamdi Ulukaya, is mobilizing the private sector to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 25 million refugees forcibly displaced from their home countries. Ulukaya launched Tent with the belief that the private sector is uniquely positioned to address the global refugee crisis by mobilizing the networks, resources, innovation, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the business community. There are over 100 companies in the Tent Partnership supporting refugees across 34 countries. The full list of Tent members can be found here.

Tent believes that companies have the greatest impact when they treat refugees not as victims, but as economically-productive workers, suppliers, entrepreneurs, and customers - and when they leverage their core business operations to hire refugees, integrate them into supply chains, invest in refugees, and deliver services to them. Learn more about Tent: http://www.tent.org.

About New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business
New York University Stern School of Business, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, is one of the nation’s premier management education schools and research centers. NYU Stern, whose faculty includes four Nobel Laureates in Economics, offers a broad portfolio of programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels, all of them enriched by the dynamism, energy and deep resources of one of the world’s business capitals. Visit www.stern.nyu.edu and follow NYU Stern on Twitter: @NYUStern.