New research into Generation Z in the US reveals that it’s time for businesses to ‘confess’ more openly that their sustainability and social programmes are designed to make them more money. 57% of those surveyed said they thought it was OK for businesses to make a profit out of making the world a better place.
The results show this first post-Millennium generation think that businesses have a responsibility to make the world a better place, and they will reward them for doing so. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed (73%) agreed that organisations should make ‘doing good’ a central part of their business.
“Generation Z feel a strong connection to businesses who are taking steps to put sustainability at the heart of their organisation,” says Andy Last, CEO at salt communications who commissioned the research. “Random CSR activity just won’t cut it for them. They are highly educated and globally connected, being the first generation to grow up with the internet, and clearly recognise the impact that businesses doing meaningful good can have on creating a better world.”
Notably, Generation Z feel strongly about rewarding organisations that are making the world a better place. Around six in ten (61%) are willing to go out of their way to buy products and services from these businesses and 59% rank working for a company that helps make the world a better place as important a consideration as salary.
Andy Last comments: “This is great news for organisations who are ahead in sustainability. They are more likely to attract a stronger pipeline of young talent to work for them and be able to sell more of their products and services to a well-informed generation. Significantly, businesses can be open and transparent about their intention to make profit from this activity, as Generation Z are in agreement that it is OK to connect sustainability and profit.”
As this generation has a wealth of sources that they are able to gather information from, they were asked where they placed their trust when hearing about businesses talking about sustainability. The majority trusted their friends and family (72%) followed by employees of that business (55%) and just over half (54%) trust NGO’s and charities. They overwhelmingly mistrusted advertising, with 15% agreeing that it could be trusted when businesses talk about sustainability.
“There is an abundance of information at the fingertips of Generation Z. Raised on social media, they are able to filter messages quickly and effectively,” says Andy Last. “Therefore, they are able to differentiate between authentic messages and those that they perceive are manufactured, which may have manifested itself in a mistrust of mediums like advertising. They trust most in word of mouth, from family, friends, business employees, showing their favourability towards authenticity.”
When asked about what a better world meant to them, the respondents thought that social issues like access to water and sanitation, education for all and an end to global poverty were more important than environmental issues like climate change and sustainable energy.
“Generation Z are highly conscientious towards creating a better world and care about a range of global issues. They show a clear preference towards social issues, over environmental, which businesses should take note of. It bodes well for the future that this generation are so in tune with what makes a better world, and that they are passionate about the role that businesses need to play in order for this to happen,” Andy Last concludes.