What Gen Z thinks of businesses that do good.

By Pelican MD Michael Bennett

3 minute read

Key takeaways:

  • Generation Z, already constitute almost a quarter of the workforce globally, so understanding what matters to them is crucial to businesses.
  • While purpose is important to Gen Z, financial stability is more important to them than it is for millennials.
  • Gen Z cares about ethical consumption and are likely to avoid brands involved in scandals.

Not to make you feel old, but the first millennials, often a catch-all term for ‘young people’, are approaching their 40th birthdays.

Currently millennials make up half the UK workforce and their successors, generation z, already constitute almost a quarter of the workforce globally.

Understanding what matters to this generation is crucial to businesses, both in appealing to Gen Z as consumers and in attracting them as employees.

What they have in common with millennials is an appreciation of, and loyalty to, brand and businesses with purpose. But it is a mistake to believe millennials and Gen Z are exactly the same.

What does Gen Z look for in an employer?

While purpose is important to Gen Z, workplace engagement is less important to them than it is for millennials.

This is a pragmatic generation which witnessed parents in Gen X lose up to 45% of their wealth during the 2008 recession.

Consequently, financial stability is more important to Gen Z when looking for a job than it is for millennials. XYZ University discovered two in three would rather have a job that offers financial stability than one they enjoy. This is in stark contrast to millennials, many of whom prioritise finding a job that is fulfilling over one that simply pays the bills.

So the days of office ping pong tables and nap pods have come to an end, but if you think this means a decent salary and pension scheme is enough to attract a new generation of workers, think again

Gen Z and businesses with purpose.

Here’s what Gen Z has in common with millennials; they care about ethical consumption and are likely to avoid brands involved in scandals, or that refuse to take a stand on important issues.

Considering Gen Z is now the world’s largest consumer segment, it’s important for today’s brands to think carefully about how they weave purpose into their business model. This generation expects the brands they love to stand for something.

At a basic level, purpose is what an organisation aspires to be and do. It’s about what you’re doing for the wider world; your customers, your community, the environment.

The Purpose Pulse 2020 report found millennials and Gen Z expect companies to take clear positions on social and environmental issues. Six in ten (61%) respondents said it is important or very important that companies take a stance on issues that matter to them. More than half of those surveyed also said having a clear purpose beyond profit is important to them when considering which brands to buy.

The importance of authenticity.

Data shows 89% of Gen Z would rather buy from a company supporting social and environmental issues over one that does not, so it seems a no-brainer that putting your name to whatever cause is trending will show you in a good light among this demographic.

But credit Gen Z with more savviness.

One of the reasons traditional ‘celebrities’ have taken a back seat to social media and YouTube influencers in recent years is because they’re seen by Gen Z as more ‘authentic’, and this search for authenticity makes them scrutinise the motives of brands and businesses.

Coming out in support of a cause that is unrelated to your brand’s mission statement or purpose will come across as a shameless play for public brownie points, ultimately damaging your brand’s reputation.

‘Authenticity’, like ‘purpose’ is more than a buzzword for your marketing strategy. You need to carefully define what your brand is before aligning it with a cause.

In order to convince Gen Z that you truly care about a cause you also have to be willing to invest in it. Piggybacking onto a trending hashtag without any demonstrable action will only agitate young consumers who will see it as ‘goodwashing’.

‘Goodwashing’ is seen by some as the new ‘greenwashing’, and businesses which attempt claim to have purpose without authenticity do so at their peril.

Gen Z values being part of movements far bigger than themselves, placing great importance on doing work that improves our world. They will also align themselves to brands which demonstrate similar values to themselves. In fact, 57% of consumers are buying or boycotting brands based on social or political purpose.

So, to attract Gen Z to work for you or shop with you, it’s not just helpful to have purpose, it’s essential.

If you need help or advice developing your brand’s marketing strategy or purpose statement, get in touch with the experts at Pelican today.

Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment & CSR, food, packaging & logistics and trade association sectors and offers a range of services such as strategy, design, content creation, public relations and people development. Contact us for marketing and communications expertise.


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