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  • 50% of US consumers think it’s worth paying more for a brand/company that supports a socially-responsible cause.
  • 54% actively try to support retailers/brands whose purpose aligns with their own values/morals.
  • Top areas consumers are interested in supporting include ongoing community aid/support (43%), COVID-19 pandemic relief (41%), and health/wellness initiatives (39%)

The rise in social justice, diversity, and equality engagement following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in the spring/summer of 2020 resulted in many companies and brands asking themselves what purpose they should serve for consumers and what role they should play in that moment. According to new research from Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, Americans are looking to brands to speak up and take action with the majority (54%) agreeing that companies should clearly define where they stand on important matters/issues. So much so that 60% of Americans say they are more likely to shop from a brand that supports the Black Lives Matter movement – increasing to 79% of Black consumers.

But it seems that the generations are divided on this issue of whether or not companies should make public statements about their stance on social justice issues: 58% of Gen Z, 64% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X, 46% of Baby Boomers and 50% of World War II/Swing Generation* say that companies should make public statements about their stance on social justice issues.

With half (50%) of all Americans agreeing that it’s worth paying more for a brand/company that supports a socially-responsible cause, the country is undergoing a cultural shift and an acceleration in mission-driven retail.

Diana Smith, Associate Director, Retail & eCommerce, Mintel said:

“Consumers recognize that companies have significant influence and power, and can change the world for the better. They want and expect companies to voice their opinions on important social matters and respectfully publicize their altruistic efforts. But consumers are more interested in the actions behind the statements.

“All companies are in business to sell a product or service. The brands that realize their beliefs, values, and ethical practices are what will set them apart from competitors will be most successful in earning the hearts of their customers, and that’s what matters most at the end of the day. By leading with conviction and purpose, these brands will empower consumers to feel good about making their purchases more meaningful.”

Social consciousness is on the rise

Americans are becoming more socially-conscious with regard to how and where they shop. In fact, 43% of Americans say they pay attention to brands’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts and more than half (54%) actively try to support retailers/brands whose purpose aligns with their own values/morals. The areas consumers are most interested in supporting through shopping include ongoing community aid/support (eg shelter, food bank) (43%), COVID-19 pandemic relief (41%), and health/wellbeing initiatives (39%). The claims that are most likely to encourage Americans to purchase are made in the USA (67%), locally made (50%), made with natural ingredients (46%), and energy-efficient (45%).

“Price, convenience, and product selection will always drive retailer and brand preference, but ethics are playing an increasingly important role in consumers’ purchase decision-making process. Conscious consumers, especially Gen Zs and Millennials, have definite expectations for businesses and will hold them accountable, believing they should make meaningful contributions to improve society by embracing the corporate values and missions that signal a moral and cultural identity.

“This shift toward altruism and activism has been ongoing but was propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased focus on the social justice movement. This is not a trend that will pass. Consumers will increasingly look to associate with brands and retailers whose values and morals align with their own and/or dissociate with brands that disappoint them,” concluded Smith.

*Mintel defines Gen Z as the generation born 1997-2010; Millennials born 1980-96; Generation X born 1965-79; Baby Boomers born 1946-64; and World War II/Swing Generation born before 1928-45.