What's It Worth?

According to a new study from “DoSomethingStrategic, Gen Z is focusing on consumerism as a channel for change. The study, titled “Dollars and Change: Young People Tap Brands as Agents of Social Change,” 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. 

“In addition, more than 67% have stopped purchasing or would consider doing so if the company stood for something or behaved in a way that didn’t align with their values, in contrast to how they use their voice through more traditional means of civic action: only 32% of survey respondents have attended a political event or protest or contacted a representative." 

 “The study also found that Gen Z, those aged 13-25 years old, are often misunderstood when it comes to their political descriptors, says the report 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. Lacking a traditional political ideology, it’s not surprising voting-age young people haven’t actually voted, says the report. 

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

  • 53% of survey respondents have purchased a brand/product because they wanted to show support for the issues they stood up for/represented. And 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 solelyon the belief of 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,” said. “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.”

“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,” concludes the report. 

The full report findings can be accessed at 


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