‘Skint’ GenZers reveal their steadfast love of ‘purpose’

gen zAny hopes brands had that the cost of living crisis might water down Generation Z’s obsession with companies demonstrating purpose beyond profit have been blown out of the water, with a new study showing their resolve is a steadfast as ever.

According to Dentsu’s 2024 Read the Room: Pursuing Happiness report, 90% of Gen Z say that social issues are their highest concern, and have a clear impact on their purchase decisions.

In fact, 75% of Gen Z are more likely to buy from brands that give a portion of their sales to charity and 70% say they prioritise brands that demonstrate emotional intelligence in their advertising – both findings are the highest of all generational cohorts.

The research also finds that Gen Z donates the highest proportion of their salary (5%) to charity compared to other generations. That is despite more than half (57%) of Gen Z reporting that they are extremely anxious about their finances in the immediate future. An additional 78% agreed they would be more likely to purchase from a brand that makes its products sustainably.

The research also delves into the influences behind buying decisions across a wide range of generations and industries – from Baby Boomers to Millennials to Gen Z – to give brands insights in consumer mindsets in 2024 and beyond.

It finds that Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, view charitable donations and social activism as a core pillar of their personalities, with brand identity linked to personal value systems. Gen Z want to buy from brands that are actively doing good for society, not just through words, but through authentic action.

Even among Baby Boomers, more than a quarter now prefer to buy from a brand exhibiting a strong sense of purpose and consumers claim they will ultimately move away from brands that fail to back up sustainability and social initiatives with evidence.

With this in mind, brands are being urged to gain deep knowledge of their customers’ value systems, and then communicate clearly how they are delivering on those values. In doing so, they can create new consumer demand, unlocking new value in new spaces, the report claims.

Dentsu UK&I chief executive Angela Tangas said: “In another economically challenging year, a people-centered focus must be a priority for brand strategy and business growth.

“Our insights reaffirm that understanding both consumer and customer behaviours, anticipating their needs and creating new ways to meaningfully and authentically connect is critical. We can clearly see that consumers, especially Gen Z, expect more from brands in terms of environmental sustainability and social impact, at a time when technology is enabling new experiences and cultivating new behaviours.

“The demand for purpose means authenticity is paramount, which will be key to unlocking wins today and preparing for tomorrow.”

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