Even if they like the product, 45% of Millennials will stop using a brand or company that doesn’t align with their political beliefs. That’s according to a consumer research study by InSites Consulting on how customers want brands to respond during turbulent times related to politics, inflation, the pandemic and more.
More than ever, the United States is divided on politics, religion, human rights, environmental issues and many other topics on which people disagree and argue, sometimes to a level of violence. In business, while some vocal customers may try to get a company or brand’s attention, most consumers will vote approval or disapproval with their wallet.
Not all generations feel the same about politics and other issues that have become politicized. While 40% of Gen Z and 43% of Millennials take a tough stance on political issues, 46% of Gen X and 44% of Baby Boomers believe it’s best to stay out of the debate.
But there is a difference between a political or social cause that is important to people and one that provokes an angry reaction. As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Contested issues related to politics, human rights and religion appear to be motivating consumers to choose whether to do business – or not – with certain brands that have chosen to be open about their stance on these issues.
Sometimes believing in something important can be attractive instead of controversial. Environmental issues have become politicized. While companies like Patagonia are known for their stance on sustainability, you don’t read or hear of protesters outside of their headquarters disagreeing with the use of recycled materials in their products. At this point, a good cause can help create sales and even customer loyalty. According to the 2022 Achieving Customer Amazement study (sponsored by Amazon Web Services), 45% of consumers think it’s important for a business to support a social cause they care about. And the findings of the InSites Consulting report, particularly when it comes to younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials), have similarities.
Here are some other important findings that help define the differences between younger and older consumer generations:
Gen Z and Millennials believe that businesses that react to current events (e.g. brands pulling out of Russia or companies offering new employee benefits amid the Roe vs. Wade toppling) do so because they genuinely care about their employees and customers. On the other hand, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers slightly favor the belief that companies only do it to avoid criticism or to keep up with the pack.
· Gen Z and Millennials want open and frequent communication in turbulent times. They want to be kept informed and appreciate consistent messaging. Generation X and Baby Boomers prefer incentives and discounts to get their business.
Fifty percent of Gen Z and 54% of Gen Y want their values to align with the company’s purpose, while many Gen Xers (36%) and baby boomers (40% ) are neutral with respect to this assertion.
· In turbulent times, Gen Z and Millennials agree that companies should “support their employees first and foremost.” Gen Xers and Baby Boomers feel a little more strongly that companies should “support their customers first.”
So what do we do with this information?
You could write an entire book with the answers to these questions, but first you need to understand who your customers are. If you’re selling to baby boomers, many of whom are retired or nearing retirement, how you market and sell to them will be different from how you market and sell to younger generations of customers. These differences are important to note, especially