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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

The Top 4 Causes Gen Z Consumers Expect Brands to Support

Updated: Jan 27



Whether we’d like to admit it or not, one of the things that we’re all susceptible to giving our undivided attention to is a great debate. Maybe it’s the fact that listening to a great debate often stimulates our minds in some of the same ways that a great story does. Or, it could be that we simply enjoy witnessing a great sparring match—even if that match is only verbal.


Whatever the case, great debates will always have a way of mesmerizing us in one way or another. Especially if those debate topics are relevant to us.


Recently, two popular and successful entrepreneurs had a debate (via Twitter) consisting of a topic that is very relevant to many business owners and CMOs these days. The topic of this debate was centered around whether or not it is a brand’s duty or responsibility to support certain social causes.


The two entrepreneurs that squared off in this dynamic debate were ABC Shark Tank castmates Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary (a.k.a. Mr. Wonderful). Mark Cuban took the stance that brands should feel obligated to support certain social causes. With Kevin O’Leary taking the opposing side of the issue.


As a lover of a great debate, as well as a brand director, I must confess that both sharks made very compelling cases for their side of the subject. While O’Leary’s reasoning for why brands have no obligation to support social causes would have won over most consumers a decade ago; that’s certainly no longer the case. Especially when it comes to Gen Z consumers.


A recent Gen Z consumer survey by the ICSC further demonstrates that the demographic expects brands they support to get behind certain social causes and values that matter to them. With the following four being the most important.


1. Mental health


More so than any generation that preceded them, Gen Zers aren’t just cognizant of the importance of acknowledging mental health, they make it a priority to address it. What is more, Gen Z consumers also expect brands they support to share their sentiments on the issue.


Of those who participated in the survey, a whopping 53% of Gen Z consumers said they want the brands/companies they shop to get behind causes that support mental health.


2. The environment/climate change


With such an abundance of information at their fingertips thanks to the internet, many historians say Gen Zers are the most socially aware generation since the baby-boom generation.


However, one thing that is becoming more and more obvious each day and doesn’t need to be Googled, is the fact that climate change is real. And as the demographic continues witnessing record-breaking temperatures, the more and more Gen Zers continue to emphasize that brands and companies they support become more eco-friendly.


Not only did 47% of respondents say they wanted brands and companies they patronize to support causes that were good for the environment and sustainability, 56% of respondents said they are willing to pay more in order to purchase sustainably sourced products.


3. Racial and gender equity


We all know that what should be common practice in society, isn’t always the case. For example, one of the things that should definitely be common practice within every community and organization is the simple act of respecting all people without racial or gender discrimination.


Gen Z has been on the frontlines of those pushing for the eradication of both racial and gender discrimination. And they also want brands to join them; as 47% of respondents indicated they prefer brands that support racial and gender equity.


4. Ethical labor practices


Branding consists of taking several actions in order to influence a desired perception in the minds of a targeted audience. And if you desire for your brand to be perceived favorably by Gen Z consumers, it is extremely important that your brand is not associated with unethical labor practices.


42% of the Gen Z respondents expressed that something they take into consideration when buying from brands is whether or not those brands have demonstrated ethical labor practices (e.g. livable wages, fair trade, ethical sourcing).


So, if appealing to Gen Z is one of your brand’s priorities, a great way to do that is by influencing a positive perception of your brand. Which in this case, involves being exemplary for ethical labor practices.


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