Bad Behavior Threatens Holiday Sales Finds Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate Research 

NEW YORK, December 18, 2013 – Weber Shandwick/Powell Tate research shows that incivility or rude behavior poses a real threat to consumer spending; six in 10 Americans have either decided not to buy from a company again or advised others not to buy a company’s products or services. With the holidays upon us, consumers are not going to part with their money if they are treated poorly.

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Global public relations firm Weber Shandwick and public affairs firm Powell Tate partner annually with KRC Research to conduct Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey. The fourth installment in the series found that an alarming 70 percent of Americans believe incivility has reached crisis proportions and that Americans experience incivility an average of 2.4 times per day. This follow-up, Civility in America: The Corporate Reputation Edition, explores the perceptions of civility in business and the impact of incivility on consumer purchasing.

Incivility can be the enemy of a customer-centric culture. We know that the key to a successful customer relationship is providing quality products and good service at a good value. But companies are also obligated to engage their customers with respect and understanding. The tone for meaningful and civil interaction is set at the leadership level and shared by customer-facing employees. Civil discourse starts internally and extends externally.

Andy Polansky

CEO of Weber Shandwick.

Incivility, whether it exists between a company and its customers or between fellow customers, is part of the shopping experience. Civility in America shows that half of Americans (52 percent) have experienced incivility while shopping, a slight rise from 2011 (49 percent).



Those most likely to vote with their wallets after experiencing incivility at the hands of a company or its representatives include consumers under 50, parents of kids under 18 and those with higher household incomes. This segment is often considered many marketers’ demographic “sweet spot,” especially during holiday gift-giving season.

“Our research shows that consumers react negatively toward businesses when confronted with incivility,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist.  “Sales and reputation are always at risk when it comes to incivility, but with early reports showing slow sales this holiday season, companies have an even more pressing need to ensure that their organizations embody everyday courtesy and promote civil interaction. Reputation is always on high alert during the holidays and company representatives can harm consumer perceptions for months or years to come.”



Please view our Civility in America: The Corporate Reputation Edition report and infographic here.



About The Survey

The 2013 online survey was conducted in May among 1,000 American adults to assess attitudes towards civility in politics and in other aspects of American life. The margin of error is ±2.6 percentage points.



About Weber Shandwick 

Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations firm with offices in 81 countries. The firm’s diverse team of thinkers, strategists, analysts, producers, designers, developers and campaign activators has won the most prestigious awards in the world for innovative, creative approaches and impactful work, including four 2013 Cannes Lions. Weber Shandwick was also named PRWeek’s International Consultancy of the Year and The Holmes Report’s Best Healthcare Consultancy in the World in 2013, in addition to earning numerous best place to work accolades. The firm deploys deep expertise across sectors and specialty areas, including consumer marketing, corporate reputation, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, corporate social responsibility, financial communications and crisis management, using proprietary social, digital and analytics methodologies. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit

About Powell Tate

Powell Tate is a leading strategic communications and bipartisan public affairs firm. Located in Washington, D.C., the firm specializes in public affairs; public education; reputation and crisis management; media relations; creative and interactive services; and research and advertising. The firm is a division of Weber Shandwick.



About KRC Research

KRC Research is a full-service market research firm that specializes in the kind of research needed for effective communications—communications that reach, engage and persuade. A unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), KRC Research offers the quality and custom service of a small firm along with the reach of a global organization. For over 30 years, KRC Research has worked on behalf of corporations, governments, not-for-profits and the communications firms that represent them. Staffed with market research professionals from the worlds of political campaigns, consumer marketing, journalism and academia, we are flexible, practical, creative, knowledgeable and fast, combining sophisticated research tools with real-world communications experience. For more information, visit