October 21, 2015 13:00 ET

Youth Marketing Agency Fuse Researches Gen Z's Views on Social Activism and Cause Marketing

And How It Differs From What Millennials Think

BURLINGTON, VT--(Marketwired - Oct 21, 2015) - While Millennials are often given credit for facilitating the cause marketing efforts by the brands that target them, it's Gen Z -- whose oldest members are barely 18 -- that appears poised to accelerate more significant social change. Fuse's study of 13-18 year olds completed this month features both surprising differences from Millennials and actionable insights for brands that want to reach teens today or in the future.

Unlike nearly every Millennial study Fuse has ever done, the top 5 key social concerns among Gen Z did not include "the environment," but did include:

  • Education (32%)
  • Global Financial Crisis (28%)
  • Terrorism (27%)
  • Prejudice and Racism (25%)
  • Jobs and Unemployment (23%)

Including boycotting brands, Gen Z has, in the last 12 months, taken the following action:

  • 37% either donated to or volunteered their time to a cause
  • 36% educated family and/or friends about a cause
  • 23% boycotted an activity or company

85% of Gen Z believes companies have an obligation to help solve social problems. While 57% believe companies today are doing enough to support social causes.

After learning a brand supports a social cause or is socially responsible, Gen Z is likely to:

  • 85% trust the brand more
  • 84% purchase the brand's products
  • 82% recommend that brand to friends or family (vs. 78% of Millennials that do so)

If given a choice between two brands, 85% of teens are "likely" to purchase from a brand that supports a social cause over another brand that does not support a social cause [vs. 70% of Millennials].

Relevancy matters -- 57% of Gen Z say it's more important that they personally care about the cause a brand is supporting than it is that a company just supports a cause. Just 25% of Millennials agree with that sentiment.

It doesn't take much for Gen Z to trust that a brand's cause marketing is making a difference:

  • 57% say "the company's word" is enough for them to believe
  • 32% say a financial donation by the company is important
  • 19% say they need to see employees from the company working directly on the issue

Brands whose cause marketing is resonating with Gen Z includes:

  • Ben and Jerry's: Ben and Jerry's tackles a range of social issues from climate change to supporting mandatory GMO labeling
  • Chili's Grill & Bar: Chili's Grill & Bar has raised more than $54 million for St. Jude kids since becoming a corporate partner in 2002
  • The National Football League: The NFL's "A Crucial Catch," in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is focused on the importance of regular breast cancer screenings

With key concerns that differ from their Millennial counterparts, Gen Z is taking action on causes they believe in -- and expect brands to do the same to win their support.

For more Gen Z and Millennial insights or information about Fuse, visit:

About Fuse
Fuse is a marketing agency founded in 1995 that connects brands with teens and young adults through sports, music, fashion, video gaming and other relevant cultural interests. Fuse's services include consumer insights, brand strategy, public relations, experiential marketing, creative services, and social media. The Fuse staff, led by Partners Bill Carter, Issa Sawabini and Brett Smith, is comprised of marketing professionals and cultural experts who have worked for some of the most prominent brands and agencies in the country. For more about Fuse, check out our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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