Consumers care more about diversity missteps than companies think they do, with a new study finding that one in five consumers would be unwilling to forgive and forget after a controversy.

Two surveys conducted by First Insight found that while 92 percent of executives believe that customers will continue to buy from them following an offensive product, only 27 percent of customers actually said they would still shop with a brand post offense. In the wake of widespread boycotting of luxury labels over perceived offensive designs, companies should consider instituting inclusive practices to avoid future snubs by consumers.

"It’s not an easy task for brands and retailers to stay aligned with consumer expectations on diversity and inclusion," said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight. "Luxury brands strive to delight the customer and to set trends, not follow them, which means they need to be bold and creative. That carries significant inherent risk.

"Sometimes creative teams push the envelope a bit too far and cross the line, launching products that are offensive to consumers," he said. "From Gucci to Prada, from Dior to Burberry, even iconic brands struggle to walk this line between edgy and offensive.

"Crossing that line is costly to brand image, social media standings and even the bottom line. Tapping into solutions that enable brand leaders to quickly and accurately test products with customers before launch can help avoid these costly missteps."

First Insight's report is based on surveys conducted with 1,000 consumers and 48 C-level executives.

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