Commentary

Gen Z Self Defined As Agents Of Change

A new study, recently released  from DoSomething Strategic (formerly known as TMI Strategy), titled “Dollars and Change: Young People Tap Brands as Agents of Social Change,” is presented as nearly as possible “Verbatim” while summarizing the report, revealed that more than 76% of Gen Z has purchased, or is open to purchasing, a brand or product to support the issues that brand stands for.

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 The study found that more than 67% have stoppedpurchasing, or would consider doing so, if the company stood for something or behaved in a way that didn’t align with their values. The study reports that Gen Z, defined in the survey as those 13-25 years old, are often misunderstood when it comes to their political descriptors. While the stereotypes of this generation make them out to be staunch liberals, actually 50% label themselves as moderates and the plurality, nearly half, identify as either independent or unaffiliated. 

 As a result, this generation has found it more impactful to use their voice and power for consumer activism.  For example, says the report:

  • 53% of survey respondents have purchased a brand/product because they wanted to show support for the issues they stood up for. Another 40% haven’t done this yet, but would consider doing it in the future.
  • 40% have stopped purchasing or boycotted a brand or company because they stood for something or behaved in a way that didn't align with their values. Another 49% haven’t done this yet, but would consider doing it in the future.
  • One quarter of respondents say they always/often buy a product or service "based solely because they believe that brand's values and you want to support them" and 67% said they do this at least some of the time. People of color act even more frequently, with African-Americans buying this way 33% and 76% of the time, respectively.
  • In addition, 29% actively seek out brands based on values versus stumble upon them, with African-Americans actively seeking out these brands 33% of the time.

Meredith Ferguson, managing director of DoSomething Strategic, says, “We continue to see the young people of America using their collective power as a driver of social change. Gen Z believes that everything, from what you buy to where you eat, can make a political statement and they wield that power far more often than they engage in traditional politics. With Gen Z expected to account for 40% of all consumers by 2020, this demographic is expecting brands to use their own platforms for good, and to pick up where politicians and politics may have let them down.”

The study also examined the importance of brands more deeply engaging young consumers today by making them partners in progress. 49% of survey respondents said it was important for a company or brand to have social change initiatives that consumers can be a part of. 

“Gen Z is forcing brands to think beyond just ‘what they stand for.’ There is a huge opportunity for brands to make young consumers feel part of something bigger through their purchase power,” said Ferguson. “But know that young people’s BS detectors are finely tuned, so brands that act opportunistically or don’t ‘walk the walk’ will be targeted; and brands that do nothing will be left out or called out. None of these are a smart business strategy.” 

The “Dollars and Change: Young People Tap Brands as Agents of Social Change” study was conducted online by a nationally representative sample of 2,461 young people ages 13 to 25 during March 2018. 

The full report findings can be accessed at DoSomethingStrategic.org.

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