Surprise: Older People Care More About Brand Purpose Than Gen Z

It’s become marketing gospel that younger consumers only want to buy brands that stand for something. Surprising new research from GfK challenges that assumption and finds older people are the audiences paying the closest attention.

The study also detects large differences -- sometimes as much as 20 percentage points -- in how generations respond, with Dove scoring highest among Gen Z and millennials, and H&M and Starbucks connecting best with Gen X and baby boomers.

The study is based on responses from 2,400 U.S. adults viewing 20 purpose ads from major brands, including Colgate, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Toyota and Patagonia. It then ranked each of the ads on their ability to “fascinate, imprint and trigger viewers.” Research also used practical and emotional brand affinity metrics to see how people responded.



In partnership with Thomas Kolster and Goodvertising Agency, GfK further delineated the ads as either traditional purpose messages, which focus on the brand’s beliefs and achievements, or transformational purpose ads. Those ads highlight things consumers can do, with less emphasis on the brand itself.

These transformational ads have a more substantial emotional impact, a critical difference for the Gen Z crowd. This age group has the largest emotional response of all age groups. They are more likely to say a brand “feels like it listens to my concerns” and “is a brand I love.”

Ads that created the strongest branding among all generations? Colgate, H&M, Tom’s, FedEx, Pepsi, and Soda Stream.

Perceived “goodness of fit” between the purpose and the company also seems to play a role in consumer attention. For younger consumers, Dove does best in this regard, followed by Colgate and Patagonia.

Gen X is most receptive to messages from Toyota, Hiring Chain, Dove, Seventh Generation, H&M, Fed Ex, Patagonia and Soda Stream.

Boomers, in contrast, had the strongest response to ads from Hiring Chain, CleanCut, Seventh Generation, H&M, and Starbucks.

And in terms of ads that inspired action in viewers, Dove, Colgate, FedEx, Patagonia, and Pepsi motivated Gen Z and millennials. Gen X responds best to Toyota, Hiring Chain, CleanCut and Seventh Generation.

Hiring Chain also motivated baby boomers to act, as did Colgate, H&M, and FedEx

“Gen Z and millennials expect action and transformation from companies around brand purpose,” says Eric Villain, GfK’s client solutions director for marketing effectiveness at GfK. “Using a multi-media communication program – to break through the plethora of ad messages – is essential for involving this group. Adding shorter, more active communication and messages will enhance breakthrough and lead to better recall and engagement.” 

1 comment about "Surprise: Older People Care More About Brand Purpose Than Gen Z".
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  1. Clark Celmayster from Endeavor, October 21, 2022 at 8:55 a.m.

    All are indoctrinated Sheeple!

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