For Gen Zers, brand purpose means helping us impact the world
Fast Company recently asked Gen Z consumers to name one company that did a good job of being socially responsible during the pandemic. The second most popular answer was Amazon.
This answer left many people confused. Isn’t Gen Z supposed to be the cohort most concerned about sustainability, waste reduction, inclusivity, impact and purpose generally?
It’s true, much of Gen Z shares a powerful belief that they can and will change the world for the better—with climate change, social equity, mental health and human rights on top of the growing list of social issues we feel highly invested in. Among Gen Zers surveyed, more than half (up to 69% in the U.K.) expect brands to make their stances and actions on social and political issues known publicly.
According to Retail Dive, 63% of Gen Zers are more likely to purchase from brands with a charitable or giveback mission. And these prevailing injustices are no longer just issues we discuss ad hoc. They’re dominant attributes of the culture. Young consumers see your brand, its employees and its leadership as an active part of their conversation and social fabric.
And the pandemic has only accelerated our passion for change, as globally, 79% of Gen Z say it has become more important for companies to behave sustainably (Nielsen). In the U.K., 72% of Gen Zers say they’ve become more interested in activism and social causes since the pandemic began. The pandemic has also heightened Gen Z’s passion for sustainability in particular. Globally, Gen Zers are 20% more likely than average to say that it’s become more important to reduce their environmental impact (FacebookIQ).
So why are companies like Amazon viewed as purposeful?
Brands helping Gen Zers to show their values and express their points of view is more powerful than one that executes those same actions on its own. As such, a dependable service such as Amazon that can provides the tools, resources and deals to make things happen in the world in as little as eight hours is incredibly valuable—an insight that Amazon leaned into with its ad, The Show Must Go On.
Gen Zers are hyperconnected individuals, inherently comfortable expressing themselves through digital creative tools. Valuing creativity is a core belief among many of us. More than half of Gen Zers state that they believe they’re more creative than previous generations, and we uniquely describe creative pursuits as essential—meaning we don’t see creativity as a side outlet but rather as a core attribute of daily life (USA Today).
In the digital age, creative expression is seen as vital to successful relationship building, self-realization and, increasingly, the ability to make a living. This creative emphasis fuels Gen Z’s distinct desire to share and be involved with the brands they interact with at all levels.
The conventional tenants of purpose matter, but with Gen Z, “access” “expression” and “enablement” are dialed way up.
For Gen Z, purpose is about what you allow users to do. Purpose includes inspiring innovation and positive change, providing users a sense of meaning and fulfillment, creating opportunity for the customer and helping them make a positive impact on their community.
71% of Gen zers believe in the phrase “if you want it done right, do it yourself” (Forbes) .
Amazon wins in “purpose” because it has such a divine, guaranteed value to consumers, it’s a purpose rooted in what the user can do with the power of the brand.
Purpose is about how you impact the individual’s ability to impact the world, not just your mission or messaging as a brand.
When it comes to Gen Z, it’s imperative that purpose and its resulting impact is shared and participatory in a world where brands are rising up to fill gaps in trust. So, while your own brand purpose will certainly be critical to growth, so too will providing tools and opportunities to Gen Zers that allow them to make their own purposes known to the world.