Hamburg, August 12, 2020. The “Fridays for Future” movement is causing young people to rethink their approach to consumer goods and food. For example, compared to non-participants, participants in the demonstrations are more likely to find out more about a brand before buying it (33 percent vs. 25 percent) and are more likely to support brands that they can reconcile with their conscience (46 percent vs. 41 percent) and that make the world a little better (41 percent vs. 27 percent). That’s according to a study by JOM Group, the hybrid marketing communications agency.
For the respondents, sustainability is primarily tied to the environment. Thus, resource conservation and the CO2 balance are the decisive criteria for around 46 percent. Quality, such as organic certification or fair working conditions, follows at a considerable distance.
Social environment is the most trusted source of information
80 percent of respondents said they researched various brands on the Internet. “Fridays for Future” participants also rely heavily on their social environment. Almost half of them rely on the personal experience and opinions of friends and acquaintances, and those aged 20 and over (54 percent) even more than the younger generation (46 percent). Demonstration participants are skeptical about brands’ social media profiles. Websites as well as forums and blogs hardly play a role. This shows that “Fridays for Future” participants are more skeptical about information about brands from the digital space, even more so when the content is generated by companies themselves.
Brands: The winners and losers
Alverde, the private label of the drugstore chain dm, and the organic supermarket chain Alnatura are at the top of the list in the spontaneous mentions section. Both brands impress with natural ingredients and raw materials as well as credible communication and external presentation. Respondents were also able to rate a selection of 26 brands from the food, transport, retail, textile, insurance, automotive and entertainment sectors. This showed that around 64 percent were critical of the brands. According to the young target group, Lufthansa (84 percent), New Yorker (85 percent) and McDonald’s (87 percent) in particular have little to do with the issue of sustainability. In contrast, the supermarket chains EDEKA and REWE in particular are perceived positively among active “Fridays for Future” participants, in addition to Deutsche Bahn, Tesla and Jack Wolfskin.
Conspicuously inconsistent when it comes to favorite brands
When it comes to favorite brands, the young generation behaves inconsistently. For example, 62 percent rated the sports manufacturer Adidas as rather unsustainable, but for 77 percent a purchase of Adidas articles is an option. The situation is similar with H&M. For 75 percent, the company does not stand for sustainability, but buying it is an option for 68 percent.
Amazon is also very striking: While 74 percent do not consider the company to be sustainable, 85 percent state that a purchase is still an option for them. For 36 percent, a purchase is even definitely an option.
Young people react more consistently when it comes to excluding brands from the “relevant set”. In a spontaneous statement, around 13 percent of respondents reject all brands of the food manufacturer Nestlé. The reasons include poor working conditions, immoral practices and environmentally harmful production. The top 3 no-go brands are supplemented by Gucci, whose products are considered too expensive, and KIK, which is accused of child labor, exploitation of workers and producers, and poor product quality.
Impact of sustainability campaigns
To test the impact and credibility of relevant campaigns on “Fridays for Future” participants, moving image campaigns from REWE, H&M and McDonald’s were shown to 300 demonstration participants. Of the three spots, the REWE retail chain was particularly convincing on all levels. 81 percent said the spot was credible. 86 percent think that it fits the REWE brand. The spot primarily picks up on aspects that the young generation takes as evaluation benchmarks for sustainability, including regional organic products, short transport routes and CO2 savings.
In terms of credibility, respondents have a divided view of the H&M and McDonald’s spots. Both brands are perceived as rather less sustainable, which also affects the rating of the spots. While the McDonald’s spot appeals to the majority of respondents, it is perceived as not very fitting to the brand.
“It seems that the young generation is currently still in a certain dilemma. They are torn between trendy “love brands” like Adidas or Nike and the consistent implementation of their own convictions when prioritizing brands. Our conviction is that this will change. It can therefore be assumed that sustainability in all its facets will increasingly develop into a strategic success factor for brands. The fact that Fridays for Future participants in particular are increasingly looking at brands with a critical eye in no way stands in the way of companies using sustainability issues in their advertising. It just has to be credible, transparent and comprehensible,” summarizes Volker Neumann, Managing Director JOM Group.
About the study
The JOM Group surveyed 672 people between the ages of 16 and 22 on the basis of 20 open-ended and supported questions about their dealings with brands. 300 people in the sample said they had participated in a “Fridays for Future” demonstration at least once. The survey itself was conducted via a mobile/online survey at the end of February 2020.
The complete study is available for download HERE.