Igniting a movement within a socially conscious generation




Sally Boffey

Our latest Contagious Culture event was on engaging the very socially conscious consumers of Generation Z

These are the five key lessons from our recent event where two socially engaged brands joined us to present and share their insights…
In the past, CSR has often been approached as a box-ticking exercise or an afterthought for brands. Although recently we’ve seen more and more companies trying to make a genuine difference in the world and develop a clear purpose and this shift was highlighted last year with half of awards at the Cannes Festival of Creativity going to ‘campaigns for good’.

The reason for this change is down to how consumers are changing and how their expectations from brands is changing. With the coming-of-age of the ‘internet generation’, we’re seeing young people demand more from the brands they engage with. More aware than ever of the troubles in the world and how it affects what’s important to them, they’re now willing to pay for the reasurrance that something is being done, with 76% of young people saying they’ve bought a product to show support for a cause.

So how can brands involve themselves in this social movement in an honest and genuine way? According to our brilliant speakers, Niall McKee from Guinness and Kerry Thorpe from Ben & Jerry’s, there are five key things to consider when launching a purpose led marketing campaign..

1. Keep it real 

When identifying a brand’s purpose, it has to be authentic. No matter what cause you’re trying to champion, it must be authentic and align with the brand’s truth or it simply won’t be seen as credible. Niall explained how social responsibility has always been at the heart of the Guinness brand, with the founding brand pillars of power, goodness and communion still underpinning all that they do. Similarly, Kerry was very clear in her belief that whatever social issue you are trying to solve must be baked into your brand’s DNA.

3. Don’t be afraid to take risks

Be prepared to take risks and put yourself out there in the name of the cause. As long as there is authenticity in what you’re trying to achieve, you shouldn’t wait to speak up for fear of being shot down. Work with movement builders and key figures to see where your brand could fit into their mission, and build credibility slowly and sustainably by deepening commitment to the cause. Guinness achieved this through their campaign with Gareth Thomas, whilst Ben & Jerry’s are continuing to do this with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.

2. Support of senior leadership is critical

No matter how valiant your efforts in driving social impact, without senior leadership support you’ll always be swimming against the tide. Both Niall and Kerry emphasised the importance of having people at the top who truly believe in what you’re trying to achieve. Niall pointed to the support of their senior leadership team as being a key driver to the success of their purpose-led campaigns, whilst Ben & Jerry’s board of directors is made up of activists from organisations such as GreenPeace whose job it is to ensure everything they do is driving social change.

4. Always put the cause first

In order to truly get your audience on board, you can’t be rigid in your approach to the issue. Ben & Jerry’s ‘Unbreakable Rainbow’ activation in Poland was entirely unbranded, as the purpose was not to drive coverage for their products and brand, but to actually get people involved in the movement. If you’re set on putting the brand first, you’re approaching from the wrong angle and will fail to get the support of your audience. Similarly, be open to working with partners and channels which you wouldn’t usually consider, but will help achieve cut through – Guinness, for example, used Love Island’s Dr Alex in their ‘Guinness Clear’ campaign to reach a whole new demographic.

5. Actions speak louder than words

Finally, it is not enough to simply say you care and then move on. Speaking out is one thing but you have to act on your values for it to mean anything to consumers. The role of the brand is to use what you have available to you to educate people, drive them to action and affect positive change in society.

If you would like to work on engaging your Gen Z consumers, please contact Holly Dedman to arrange a meeting with the Good Relations Content team.
To register for future events at Good Relations check out our events page.

This was published by…

Sally Boffey

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