A UK and Ireland consumer research project by marketing firm Dentsu highlights a shift in consumer expectations with Gen Z (the generation born between 1997 and 2012) wanting brands to demonstrate “purpose beyond profit” even during times of economic instability.

Key findings from Dentsu’s 2024 Read the Room: Pursuing Happiness report

  • 78% of Gen Z would prefer to buy from brands that produce goods sustainably
  • 75% of Gen Z are more likely to purchase products when a portion of the sale goes to charity
  • 70% of Gen Z prioritise brands that showcase emotional intelligence in their advertising
  • Gen Z donates the highest proportion of their income (5%) to charity compared to other generations.

The research revealed over half (57%) of the younger generation expressed extreme concern about their immediate financial future and viewed charitable donations and social activism as integral to their personal identities, linking brand identity to personal value systems.

The findings suggest that even among the older Boomer demographic, over a quarter now prefer to buy from brands demonstrating a strong sense of purpose. Consumers across generations are moving away from brands that fail to substantiate their sustainability and social initiatives.

Dentsu has advised brands to gain deep knowledge of customers’ value systems and communicate clearly how they are delivering on those values so brands can create new consumer demand and unlock new value in emerging spaces.

Angela Tangas, UK&I CEO of Dentsu, commented on the findings, stating: “We can clearly see that consumers, especially Gen Z, expect more from brands in terms of environmental sustainability and social impact, at a time when technology is enabling new experiences and cultivating new behaviours. The demand for purpose means authenticity is paramount, which will be key to unlocking wins today and preparing for tomorrow.”

In April, GlobalData shared a roadmap to help fashion businesses navigate the changing tides of the $2.1tn global apparel industry.

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