As we enter this new decade, it is estimated that Generation Z will overtake Millennials as the largest demographic in the world and these two groups combined will make up almost two thirds of the global population.
This demographic shift comes at a really interesting time - when the world is facing huge economic, environmental, political and social challenges. And this new generation is speaking out and taking action as citizens, consumers, employees and activists. With trust in governments and politicians swiftly decreasing and expectations of business and CEOs shifting, organisations need to understand how to navigate this rapidly changing landscape.
These are some of the issues that are addressed in The Purpose Pulse 2020, a new data-driven report on social purpose trends, which launches today. This research has been produced by purpose consultancies Purpose Union, The Brand & Reputation Collective and Root Cause, and provides insights into how Millennials and Generation Z are driven by purpose to shape the world in the years ahead.
The findings have significant implications for those in the PR industry looking to engage with these new generations and ensure that companies and brands are actively embedding purpose across their business.
Purpose matters and will continue to matter
Millennials and Generation Z expect companies to take clear positions on social and environmental issues. Six in ten (61%) respondents told us that it is important or very important that companies take a stance on issues that matter to them. A majority (55%) of those surveyed also said that having a clear purpose beyond profit is important to them when considering which brands to buy.
The climate emergency dominates
Climate change comes top of the concerns of Millennials and Generation Z. 71% of Millennials and Generation Z see it as the biggest challenge facing their generation. There was an 11 point gap between the climate emergency and the next prominent issues, economic inequality (60%) and political instability (60%).
The most powerful agents of change are individuals
Millennials and Generation Z believe that, more than any other potential change agent, they have the power to have an impact on the issues facing their generation. Exactly half (50%) told the Purpose Pulse that individuals such as themselves are best placed to drive change on these issues (higher than business, government or civil society leaders).
Business and government trail in trust to tackle the big issues facing younger generations
In an indication of low confidence in traditional institutions, both government and business were repeatedly rated bottom when respondents were asked who could help tackle the challenges they face. Just over one-in-three thought government (35%) or business (37%) could be trusted to tackle the big issues. For Generation Z the lack of trust in politicians and government seems especially strong.
A clear social purpose attracts women and minority groups
Six out of 10 Millennial and Generation Z women (59%) said that having a clear social purpose was very important when deciding to work for a company (compared to 54% of Millennial and Generation Z men). More than two thirds of Black/Black British/Mixed Millennials and Generation Z (69%) said that having a clear social purpose was very important when deciding to work for a company (compared to 58% of white Millennials and Generation Z).
Beyond these topline findings, it is also important for PR professionals to be aware of how best to reach these audiences - both in terms of messaging and messengers. A majority (58%) told us that they are more likely to take notice of a company that communicates their successes in achieving social and environmental goals. 58% of respondents also indicated that they place considerable trust in communications received from friends and family about a company’s actions on social and environmental issues. This means employees can be incredibly effective advocates for a company and a digital-first approach to communicating social purpose can help these advocates reach a wider audience.
It’s also interesting to note the different sources used by Millennials and Generation Z to gather information about a company’s impact on society. Only a third of Gen Z read news websites (compared to 39% of Millennials), whilst 31% of Gen Z refer to their peers (23% for Millennials), and influencers are a more important source for GenZers (23%) than Millennials (15%).
As more companies adopt a more purposeful approach, navigating these hurdles will determine how successful business will be at standing out by standing up. This is where we can add value, as PR professionals, with the type of campaigns we build, advice we offer, and platforms we engage on, on behalf of clients and brands that want to not only appeal to these audiences but make a genuine difference in the world.
Daniela Flores MPRCA is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Purpose Union, and Co-Chair of the PRCA’s Purpose Group. For a copy of the report please click here.