NEW YORK, May 15, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gen Z is bypassing the traditional political system and focusing on consumerism as a channel for change, found a new study released today from DoSomething Strategic (formerly known as TMI Strategy), the non-profit consulting arm of DoSomething.org that helps brands engage young people for social good. The study, titled "Dollars and Change: Young People Tap Brands as Agents of Social Change," revealed that more than 76 percent of Gen Z has purchased or is open to purchasing a brand or product to support the issues that brand stands for. In addition, and more costly, more than 67 percent 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. This is in contrast to how they use their voice through more traditional means of civic action: only 32 percent of survey respondents have attended a political event or protest or contacted a representative.
The study also found that Gen Z, defined in the survey as those aged 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 percent 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.
As a result, this generation has found it more impactful to use their voice and power for consumer activism. For example:
53 percent 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 percent haven't done this yet, but would consider doing it in the future.
40 percent 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 percent 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 percent said they do this at least some of the time. People of color act even more frequently, with African-Americans buying this way 33 percent and 76 percent of the time, respectively.
In addition, 29 percent actively seek out brands based on values versus stumble upon them, with African-Americans actively seeking out these brands 33 percent of the time.
"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 Meredith Ferguson, Managing Director of DoSomething Strategic. "With Gen Z expected to account for 40 percent 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. Forty-nine percent of survey respondents said it was important for a company or brand to have social change initiatives that consumers can be a part of. The report provides a roadmap to achieve this by outlining five levels of what DoSomething Strategic is calling the "New Brand Ethos Hierarchy." Within the Hierarchy, the levels range from the basic level one, where brands are seen as "for everyone," up to level five, where a brand's purpose and business become interchangeable.
"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.
About DoSomething Strategic DoSomething Strategic (formerly TMI Strategy) is the data-driven consultancy arm of DoSomething.org. We help brands and organizations engage young people for positive social change. We combine proprietary data with a deep understanding of what young people care about to help clients build relationships with this unique demographic and activate them for social good. Our expertise is grounded in moving 6 million DoSomething.org members—ages 13-25 in every area code in the United States and in 131 countries worldwide—to take social action, and we've been doing this work successfully day in and day out for the past 25 years. DoSomethingStrategic.org
Methodology Dollars and Change: Young People Tap Brands as Agents of Social Change, DoSomething Strategic, May 2018.
This survey recruited young people aged 13–25 living in the United States. Data were collected between March 1st and March 23rd, 2018 and the median time to complete the survey was 17 minutes. Prior to analyses, the data were cleaned and weighted as follows:
Individuals with completion times under one-third the median time to complete were excluded from the results
Individuals younger than 13 years of age or older than 25 years of age were excluded from the results
Individuals living outside of the United States were excluded from the results
Post-stratification weights were applied to reflect young people in the general population (based on gender, age, race, and parental level of education)
The final sample includes 2,461 observations. Results presented here are reported post-weighting to help ensure a nationally representative sample with respect to core socio-demographic variables. Assuming a population size of approximately 56,500,000 13–25 year olds nationwide*, a sample size of 2,461 at a 95% confidence level allows for a 1.98% margin of error (based on the assumption that data are normally distributed).
*Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division