A Primer on the Personal Values Driving Buying Decisions Across Generations

TikTok would have you believe that Gen Z is leading the way on consumer activism. They’re loud. They post a lot. They have a lot of opinions. And young people are often the apple of advertisers’ eye, which helps bolster the belief that they’re the largest contingent of consumer activists. 

But Resonate’s cutting edge AI platform, rAI says otherwise. We compared the generations to reveal what they care about, and how they vote with their wallets. Are they driven by the same objectives? Do they spend the same way? What do they care about and how does that impact their spending? 

To get a deeper understanding, we analyzed fresh, AI-powered data within the Resonate Platform. We looked at shoppers who prioritize spending more based on their values, then split that audience by generation to discover where their habits converge and diverge. Here’s what we found. 

Millennials Make Up the Largest Contingent…But Not By Much 

It may not come as a surprise that millennials are the most likely to open up their wallets and spend more based on their values. But they’re not in the lead by much. Gen X and boomers follow immediately behind. Gen Z trails, though they have less discretionary income to prioritize values over economic value.

Gen Z is Social-Oriented, Boomers are Environmental-Oriented 

There are nuances in the type of values-oriented purchases that the generations are most likely to make. For Gen Z, the social policies and practices of a company are the most important. They are 13% more likely than the average consumer to care about social causes, like prioritizing DEI while hiring or donating to social justice issues, while boomers are 14% less likely. But that doesn’t mean boomers don’t care about their values — they’re 10% more likely to be concerned with environmental policies and practices, including reducing greenhouse gasses, while Gen Z is 9% less likely.

Millennials are Most Likely to Increase Spending Based on Values 

When it comes to increasing spending based on good social practices, all of these generational cohorts are more completely likely to increase spending — this tracks with these audiences which are built on being more likely to spend more based on values. But millennials pull ahead as the most willing to increase spending based on good social practices, which could mean buying Bombas socks because they donate a pair of socks for every one purchased. They’re 74% more likely than the average consumer to say they’re completely likely to increase spending for good social practices. 

Gen Z is Most Concerned With Gender Issues 

Aligning with their focus on a company’s social practices, Gen Z is most likely to purchase if a company specifically supports LGBTQ rights, advocacy for transgender and non-binary rights, or women’s rights and equality. While all of these specific audiences are more likely to purchase based on these advocacy areas, Gen Z is as high as 137% more likely to purchase if a company or brand supports advocacy for lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights. 

Boomers Care About Veterans and Closing Locations in Russia 

One area that resonated almost exclusively with boomers is military and national support causes. Boomers are 91% more likely to purchase if a brand or company has closed all their locations across Russia and 51% more likely to purchase if a brand or company supports veterans and military families. This is an area where the older generations are eager to open their wallets, while someone who falls into Gen Z may see buying from those brands as supporting a war they don’t believe in. 

Gen Z and Boomers Could Be Unlikely Bedfellows on Values 

Despite their differing areas of prioritization on values, Gen Z and boomers did show strong support on the two ends of the generational spectrum across several key issues. The boomers could have an enthusiasm for activism left over from their younger days that matches the activism currently taking hold with Gen Z consumers. 

Gen Z Cares About Values in the Workplace 

While all of the generations feel strongly about aligning values to purchases, Gen Z’s concern with values extends to the workplace. They are 151% more likely to accept a job offer with a company who outwardly supports LGBTQ+ rights and 98% more likely to accept a job offer with a company who works to lower greenhouse gas emissions. They aren’t just talking the talk, they’re walking the walk when it comes to living their values.  

These are just a few of the ways that we see the generations begin to diverge and values and consumer habits among groups that we know prioritize the meeting of values and purchasing. Where this data becomes even more powerful is when you use it to examine the behaviors and motivations of your own consumers. Want to see what that looks like in action? Contact us today for a peek at the power of rAI and the AI-powered, fresh data available for immediate analysis and action with the Platform.

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