In the market research industry, we often track the spending patterns of different generations. Doing so gives us a deeper insight into what members of each generation finds important. Of late, many are talking about how GenZ is the most diverse generational cohort ever. In fact, today’s elementary school population in the U.S. is majority non-white and our nation is projected to be majority non-white in 20 years or so. A recent Pew Research Center study said, “Majorities among Gen Z and the Millennial generations say increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. is a good thing for society, while older generations are less convinced of this.”
As we look at GenZ habits and the patterns we can derive from them, we’ve started to notice how critical social responsibility is to them. Seven-in-ten GenZers say the government should do more to solve problems in this country. On several other key issues, the Pew study found GenZ to be more progressive than prior generations. Fifty-nine percent of young voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic. Fifty-seven percent of Millennials call themselves consistently liberal or mostly liberal, while only 12 percent call themselves consistently conservative or mostly conservative.
And these views boil over into corporate America as well. Another study by BBMG and GlobeScan showed that GenZ is “twice more likely than any other generation to care more about issues of equality and three times more likely to say that the purpose of business is to serve communities and society”. The study went on to say that “GenZ is more likely to trust that large companies are operating in society’s best interest only when the companies show it by their actions and their employees’ actions”.
It is clear that consumers – especially the younger ones – want to support mission-driven brands that do much more than make and/or sell things. It has never been more critical for brands and retailers to not only say the right things, but to do them as well. We see many brands reacting positively to this need. The number of brands supporting Pride events has grown exponentially in recent years, as an example.
Brands and retailers must be transparent and share their values with their customers. Brands must dig deep into their culture to shape their purpose and then share that purpose with their constituencies. And brands must remember that action more than words is key to earning the trust of the young consumer.
Brands and retailers must openly share their values and trust their customers to support them. Brands must create platforms for their customers to share their stories and points of view. Brands must stand up for the values of their core customers. Those that do will win.