Edelman has been pursuing brand trust for the past six years. Our most important finding is the rise of belief-driven shopping, with nearly two-thirds of consumers today buying or advocating for brands based on their values. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: The New Cascade of Influence, released today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, finds another trend for brand democracy in the form of a gravitational force exerted by Gen Z consumers.
Gen Z has come of age amid the pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, racial inequalities, the climate crisis, the US epidemic of gun violence and brand activism stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Our study, conducted in May and June with more than 13,700 adults and more than 6,700 adolescents (ages 14-17) in 14 countries, indicates a new spring of influence that widens the marketing funnel; Brands that fail to act don’t even set ideas.
Gen Z is a catalyst for action as they say they are fighting for their future. The level of fear has increased over personal safety, health, financial security and the rapid pace of change. Fear is the power that doesn’t cripple, Gen Z; 70% of Gen Zs are involved in social or political causes (2021 The Power of Gen Z).
I like this comment from Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg, who said, “I’m not driven by hope. I’m driven by the fact that I have no other choice.”
We found in our recent 2022 Business and Racial Justice Report in the US that 70% of adult Gen Zs (ages 18-26) say they have advocated for or taken action against racism, the 42+ age level. is more than double.
Adult Gen Z controls the information flow through Tik Tok and other social channels, with participation rates as high as 42+ (31% compared to 69% online or weekly content posting or sharing). Teens and college-aged people influence how the general population gets news (63%) and how they access movies or TV (60%). Among all Gen Zs, there is a strong belief in the credibility of experts (66%) and frequent users of the brand (63%) as brand spokespersons, and those who follow influencers say they trust them. because they teach new skills (40%). Or share recommendations based on experience (37%).
But activism on social media is not a substitute for action to bring about change; Over the past four years there was a 15-point drop among adult Gen Zs who regularly create and post content online, saying they do so to change the world (74% to 59%).
Gen Z wants to work with brands for shared action, not the moment (a clever ad) but the movement towards performance change. Nearly two-thirds of those 14-17 and 62 percent of those 18-26 say they want to collaborate with brands to address issues including racism, climate change and gender inequality. 84% of young Gen Xers (14-17) say they shop on beliefs, with a five-point jump between 18-26 years old in the past year with 64% saying they buy through brand choice are active.
By a margin of about 2 to 1, respondents want more ‘we are than me’ – they prefer brands to place the world a better place over brands to make the world a better person.
Gen Z has a wider remit for brands
Our first brand study in 2017 found that brands were expected to take a stand on behalf of consumers (50%). Today, brands must take a stand on issues affecting its employees (60%), its customers (59%) and how products are made (55%). By May 2022, the brand’s stand should be reflected in what they do (63% of all items on average), including treating employees fairly, where they do business, and their supply chain.
The brand’s communication should reflect its stand through advertising and on its website (62% of all items on average). The new responsibility is geopolitics, with 41% of consumers telling us they have bought, or boycotted, brands based on their reaction to the Russian invasion.
There’s a tangible payoff for brands heeding the call to action. When brands take a stand on human rights, climate, gender equality or racial justice, there is a 4-to-1 higher chance of buying. More than half of Gen Z adult respondents say they are willing to pay a premium for brands that earn their trust and make the world a better place, compared to paying a premium for brands based on their image. more than their wish. Trusted brands get a lot of loyalty and advocacy (67%) in competitive situations.
Those accusing marketers and brands of ‘waking up’ too much get it wrong. Consumers want and expect brands to stand up to the issues of the day leading the fight for change and social betterment; Act first, then communicate. We believe that action earns trust. Our latest study makes it clear that Gen Z is leading the charge in transforming the landscape of workplace, social interaction and leisure with a deep reliance on brands as their partners. With brands shaped by employee advocates for your mission, Smart Company will market from the inside out.
CMOs must understand that they are the catalysts of trust and that marketing is a horizontal function in the company, with deep ties to human resources, supply chain and finance to influence policy. Relevance demands a vision and concrete action; Bystanders in marketing will miss the moment and risk irrelevance.
Richard Edelman is the CEO of Edelman, a global communications firm and the firm’s holding company Daniel J. Edelman is the chairman of Holdings. Founded by his father Dan in 1952, Edelman remains independent and family owned with more than 6,000 employees in 66 offices in 28 countries. As the creator of the annual Edelman Trust barometer, Edelman has become one of the leading authorities on trust in business, government, the media and NGOs. The survey also informs academic studies on faith and provides insight to thought-leaders and opinion-makers around the world.
This story was first published by the World Economic Forum in partnership with the Edelman Trust Institute. It is republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License.
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