Hyper-aware Generation Z is the most resistant to irresponsible business practices, a new research finds

The so-called Generation Z (born between 1995-2009) in the coming years are to become today’s shoppers, workers and the driving force of the economy. That’s why this demographic group is of no less interest to forward-thinking marketers and researchers than much-discussed Millenials (aka Generation Y).

For example, in the U.S. Gen Z-ers represent 25.9% of population, which makes it the biggest demographic group in the country (Millenials—24.5%; Baby Boomers—23.6%; Gen X—15.4%; Swing—10.5%). According to the recent research by Added Value, they are pragmatic, tech-savvy (or even «digitally native», however, some researches prove it wrong); their gender roles are blurred, their entrepreneurial aspirations are high.

What Gen Z-ers think of sustainability

Yesterday, at an annual Sustainable Brands Conference’14 in London, the communications consultancy Salt presented the results of their survey of nearly 500 16-to-20 years-olds. They asked them about their views on the most important global issues facing the world today, about the role of businesses in addressing those issues, about their trusted sources of information, and, generally, what «a better world» meant to them.

According to the survey, Gen Z-ers think that the most important issues of the modern world are:

  • 51% — world peace
  • 41% — limited access to clean water and sanitation
  • 40% — global poverty
  • 16% — sustainable energy
  • 16% — gender equality
  • 12% — climate change

85% of the respondents think that governments are responsible to address these problems, 68% and 45% think that international bodies and individuals, respectively, should be in charge of those issues.

Pic.: Gen Z info graphics by Salt
Pic.: Gen Z info graphics by Salt

The majority of the surveyed teenagers (74%) believe that businesses must be responsible for creating a ‘better world;’  74% agree that companies should pursue social and environmental causes as their core activity, rather than just donate to charities. 59% agree that they buy or will buy from companies that help create a «better world» (17% disagree though). Slightly less than a half (45%) think that choosing a job they would consider a level of sustainability commitment of the future employer as a factor that is as important as salary (27% disagree).

Interestingly, ever-connected and well-aware Gen Z’s trust journalists (68%), information on the packaging of products (58%), and don’t rely much on the «leading» social media (Facebook —12%, Twitter —18%) when it comes to sustainability communications of businesses. Overall, nearly 25% of Gen Z-ers have left Facebook and other «parents'» social media platforms in favour of fully anonymous communication platforms such as Snapchat, Slingshot or Secret.

According to another research by the U.S. trends and marketing firm Sparks and Honey, 73% of Gen Z-ers say they were personally affected by the recession of 2007-2008—which made them realists who didn’t believe «too happy» or too emotional commercial stories. This is something marketers should note.

More general insights on Gen Z-ers are available in the articles on Business Insider and Bloomberg View.