Introducing Porter Novelli's 2021 Business of Cancel Culture Study

Jan 26, 2021 1:00 PM ET

Introducing Porter Novelli’s 2021 Business of Cancel Culture Study

Years ago, one voice may not have gained too much traction – it may have moved forward for a bit, or floundered before reaching too many ears. Yet, today, because of social media, a voice can carry. Now, collective voices spreading like digital wildfire can sway public opinion. One misstep or wrong word from a person, a celebrity or brand can put that entity in a social media maelstrom – where mutual disapproval puts that entity on the outs. It’s a phenomenon that has come to be known as “cancel culture.”

This week, we are proud to launch Porter Novelli’s 2021 Business of Cancel Culture Study. This research aims to help us understand the mechanics of cancel culture. Why do we cancel brands – and what do we hope to gain? How long does a “cancellation” last and what does it take to get back in the good graces of social media public opinion? To further bring this data to life, we also examined four recently cancelled brands to understand the impact on overall social media conversation, sentiment and the “shelf life” of cancellation.

Key findings include:

  • 72% of Americans feel more empowered than ever before to share their thoughts or opinions about companies
  • 38% would cancel a company so that organization changes its ways, while just 14% would cancel a company to have it “go away completely”
  • Just over a third (34%) say they’d cancel that brand for a year or less but nearly a quarter (23%) of Americans believe a cancellation is permanent
  • 72% are less likely to cancel a company if it is purpose-driven

The debate still rages as to whether cancel culture is good for society, or a harsh disavowal inflicted too quickly – but good, bad or ugly, cancel culture is here and brands must learn how to navigate this new norm. For more data and insights on cancel culture, find our full study here.