A new study conducted by Fuse reveals why more brands should embrace cause marketing as a means of reaching teenage audiences. The study, which surveyed 2,000 teens in the US between the ages of 14-17, found that 67 percent were more likely to purchase from a company that supported a cause than one that doesn’t.
Although “the environment” wasn’t a major concern in its 2016 study, it has grown to become one over the past year, knocking “global financial crisis” off the list. But even so, it still ranks relatively low compared to topics such as “education,” which remains at the No. 1 spot.
The top five issues that teens care the most about are:
- Jobs and Unemployment
- Prejudice and Racism
- The Environment
Fuse’s study also found an increase in teen activism since 2016, with more than a quarter of those surveyed stating that they’ve “attended protests or rallies” or “boycotted a company” in the last year. Additionally, 60 percent of teens report that recycle regularly, 42 percent have educated others about a cause, 33 percent volunteered for a cause and 22 percent donated money to a cause.
One of the biggest takeaways from the study is that 68 percent of teens say that corporations also have an obligation to help solve some of the nation’s social issues, which closely matches the expectations they have of themselves, as 67 percent said that they themselves have that responsibility. However, teens also appear to have a low opinion of how companies are doing, with 28 percent stating that they think companies are doing enough to support the causes they care about. Only about 10 percent said that neither teens nor corporations had an obligation to help solve today’s social issues.
Cause marketing has the potential to sway a large portion of the teen demographic. Fuse found that 69 percent of teens trusted a company more after learning it supported a social cause. Additionally, 62 percent were more likely to purchase the company’s products and 66 percent said they would pay more attention to the company’s marketing and advertising.
But teens are also a tough crowd to please, and they’re highly skeptical of companies and their support for causes. Only half of the surveyed teens believe that a company’s cause marketing is genuine if it makes a financial donation or if its employees work on the issue, and 44 percent believe in the company’s authenticity if its efforts are communicated in their marketing and/or advertising—and these are the three areas that generate the most trust among teens.
“Teens are saying that they don’t trust corporations in general, and they’re quite skeptical of even a brand’s cause marketing,” Bill Carter, a partner at Fuse, told AListDaily.
Unfortunately, there’s no single way to prove authenticity to teens, but brands may go a long way toward impressing them if they take takes one or more of those three steps.
According to Fuse’s study, the top three brands with cause marketing efforts that resonate the most with Generation Z are:
- Walmart’s partnership with Feeding America
- McDonald’s HACER Scholarships and the Ronald McDonald House
- Microsoft’s K-12 STEM programs
They join Ben and Jerry’s, Chili’s, and the NFL, which were the brands that got the most attention from teens in the 2016 study, and it’s no surprise that two out of the three newcomers support education-related causes.
But Carter said that there is a deeper takeaway, in that there’s very little connection between what the top-ranked companies do as businesses and the causes they support.
“Teens want brands to be rather selfless,” he explained. “They don’t want the tie [with causes] to be too intertwined with the company’s standard day-to-day business because then they’ll become even more skeptical of the cause marketing. They want to believe that the brand is doing something that is genuine by taking on a cause and solving some kind of social problem, but not as a direct benefit to the brand.”