Even if they love the product, 45% of Millennials will stop using a brand or company that does not align with their political beliefs. That’s according to an InSites Consulting consumer research study on how customers want brands to respond during turbulent times relating to politics, inflation, the pandemic and more.
More than ever, the U.S. is divided on politics, religion, human rights, environmental issues and many other topics that have people disagreeing and arguing, sometimes to a level of violence. In business, while some vocal customers may try to get a company’s or brand’s attention, most consumers will vote for approval or disapproval with their wallets.
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 strong stance on political matters, 46% of Gen X and 44% of Boomers feel 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 causes an angry response. As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The contested issues that tie to politics, human rights and religion seem to be motivating consumers to choose 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 about protestors outside of their headquarters disagreeing with the use of recycled materials in their products. To that 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 believe it’s important that a company supports a social cause that’s important to them. And the findings in the InSites Consulting report, especially as it applies to the younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials), have similarities.
Here are some other significant findings that help define the differences between younger and older generations of consumers:
· Gen Z and Millennials believe companies that respond to current events (for example, brands that pulled out of Russia or companies providing new employee benefits amid the overturn of Roe vs. Wade) are doing so because they authentically care about their employees and customers. On the other hand, Gen X and Boomers slightly favor the belief that companies are only doing so to avoid criticism or to follow the pack.
· Gen Z and Millennials want open and frequent communication during turbulent times. They want to be kept informed and appreciate consistent messaging. Gen X and Boomers prefer incentives and discounts to get their business.
· Fifty percent of Gen Z and 54% of Millennials want their values to align with a company’s purpose, whereas many Gen X (36%) and Boomers (40%) feel neutral toward this statement.
· In times of turbulence, Gen Z and Millennials agree companies should “support their employees above all else.” Gen X and Boomers feel slightly stronger that companies should “support their customers above all else.”
So, what do we do with this information?
You could write an entire book with the answers to these questions, but first and foremost, you must understand who your customers are. If you sell to Boomers, many of whom are retired or close to retirement, how you market and sell to them will be different than how you market and sell to the younger generations of customers. Those differences are important to note, especially