Hamburg, October 21, 2021. The “Fridays for Future” movement had to take a break for just under a year and participants were unable to demonstrate every Friday as usual. What impact this has on the sustainability awareness of the young target group (14 to 25 years), which brands they consider sustainable and which products they would buy, was investigated by the JOM Group, agency for hybrid marketing communication, in the “Fridays for Future” study 2021, which it conducted for the second time. The survey was conducted mobile at the end of May in cooperation with the Hamburg-based market research institute Appinio. The results of this year’s study once again show that participants in “Fridays for Future” demonstrations deal with brands and their products differently or more than non-participants. Thus, 77 percent of demo participants occasionally to always inform themselves about a product before they buy it. Among non-participants, the figure is 67 percent.
Digital media are the most popular research tool
Furthermore, a similar picture to 2020 emerges for the channels through which the younger generation obtains its information. Digital media remain the most popular research tool used by Gen Z to obtain information (2021: 78 percent, 2020: 80 percent).
This is followed by family and friends, who are trusted as much as ever. 44 percent rely on their opinion in 2021 (2020: 43 percent). Social media channels are trusted to a similar degree, and among demo participants in particular, social media increased again compared to last year (2020: 36.3 percent vs. 2021: 44.5 percent) when it comes to finding out about a brand.
The majority of “Fridays for Future” participants also like to shop at Amazon
In an aided query about which brands Gen Z would generally consider buying, Amazon and Apple ranked first and second among demo participants and non-participants. The two parties differ when it comes to third place. While Deutsche Bahn is still in the top 3 for participants, it is the US giant Coca-Cola for non-participants. And this despite the fact that not even ¼ of the total respondents rate Amazon, Apple and Coca-Cola as sustainable at all. And even for 90 percent of the supposedly intensive FFF participants who demonstrated every Friday before the pandemic, Amazon is still a purchase option. Rank 2 and 3 secure themselves here Mercedes Benz (70 per cent) and the German course (67 per cent). In 2020, Amazon also secured first place among FFF participants, but Rewe and Edeka were also on the podium. The fact that the two supermarket chains were unable to score more points this year may be due to the fact that shopping was no fun last year.
Love Brands: Shein enters the Top5
Nike and Adidas are once again the favorite brands of young people, as they were last year. Nike in particular stands out: 44 percent of respondents named the American manufacturer as their preferred brand. Quality aspects and fashionable style are the primary reasons given for the two brands being Gen Z’s love brands. The sporty fashion duo is complemented by Apple, as in 2020. Up to this point, the brand preferences of “Fridays for Future” participants do not differ from those of non-participants. It is not until the fourth rank that the paths diverge.
While the organic brand Alnatura is the fourth most frequently mentioned brand among participants (regular to repeated participation), it is the Chinese online fashion retailer Shein among non-participants or those who have only been to a demo once. This is the symbol of fast fashion and stands for cheaply produced fashion. The large selection (over 500,000 fashion products), low prices, and fashionable, trendy clothing are the primary motivations for preferring Shein as a fashion retail brand.
Sustainability has only suffered to a limited extent under Covid-19
Even though the topic of sustainability seems to have taken a back seat in the media due to the pandemic, just under half of the respondents who are part of the FFF movement say that their commitment to sustainability has still increased. For 42 percent, nothing has changed in this regard. The picture is different for non-demo participants: 2/3 of respondents have not changed their commitment since the pandemic and only 26.1 percent have seen their commitment increase.
The respondents’ own assessment of how their personal commitment to sustainability has changed is contrasted with their assessment of how awareness of sustainability has changed among the general population. Here, it is apparent that both participants (58 percent) and non-participants (53 percent) in the FFF movement perceive an increase in awareness of sustainability among the population. However, over 60 percent of the study participants also state that the population’s awareness has increased, even though they themselves never inform themselves about a brand before buying a product.
Volker Neumann, Managing Director JOM Group, summarizes: “The study results clearly show that Generation Z is in a dichotomy. Despite all the FFF commitment, high brand benefits and a strong image are apparently still such strong purchase drivers that they can displace certain concerns about sustainability. This is because even though the issue of sustainability continues to gain importance in the young target group, it is not radically applied by the majority in their purchasing decisions. Those who position their brand well within the ‘guardrails’ will also get into the relevant set of the target group.”
About the study
The survey was conducted at the end of May 2021 in cooperation with the market research institute Appinio. 600 people between the ages of 14 and 25 were surveyed on the basis of 20 open or supported questions in their dealings with brands. 300 people in the sample stated that they had taken part in a “Fridays for Future” demonstration at least once. The average age is 19.
The complete study is available for download HERE.