Political polarization continues to be a top concern among Americans, yet despite this—or perhaps, because of it—more say they plan to support companies next year that share their values, according to the latest “Relevance Report” released by the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations.

USC report

USC’s annual report seeks to identify emerging issues and trends that could affect the communications sector in the coming year. It found that 60 percent of Americans surveyed want corporations to advocate for causes they care about. Nearly half (44 percent) want corporations to donate to nonprofits and 27 percent want them to lobby for regulations and legislation. More than a third (34 percent) want companies to speak out publicly on social issues.

When it comes to the social issues Americans care most about, mental health took the top spot, at 34 percent, followed by abortion (31 percent), education and climate change (both 30 percent), gun legislation (29 percent), healthcare reform (28 percent), racial equality (23 percent) and homelessness (22 percent). Immigration and voting integrity (both 19 percent) gender quality and LGBTQ+ rights (both 12 percent) and police reform (11 percent) bottomed out the list.

Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of those surveyed said a company’s involvement with social causes at least sometimes influences their purchasing decisions. About the same number (72 percent) said they’d pay more for a product whose brand aligns with their social values, and about a third of those consumers said they’d pay 25 percent or more for that product.

The Relevance Report 2023

Additionally, 46 percent said they’d take a pay cut to work for a company that actively supports causes that are important to them. For respondents under the age of 30, that percentage stood at more than half.

The USC report also makes it clear that political division continues to be a major concern for Americans. More than half (56 percent) of those polled said polarization has them worried about the future of the country, and more than half (52 percent) additionally said they believe the U.S. will be more polarized in 2023 than it is now. More than a third (38 percent) admitted that our state of political division has made them angry at times, and 34 percent said it has left them afraid to speak their minds in public.

The USC Center for PR’s 2023 Relevance Report surveyed 900 Americans in September. The survey was conducted via online survey company Survey Monkey.