Social impact

3 social impact issues you need to be aware of when marketing to Gen Z

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
March 13, 2023
Last updated
January 22, 2024

What this article covers

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Gen Z needs your help and support now more than ever before. In a time where the cost-of-living is rising, the planet is burning, Gen Z workers are entering the workplace with hopeful expectations, and social media is overwhelming this generation of digital natives, it may seem like a monumental task, but there is so much your brand can do to support Gen Z.

So where can you start when it comes to social impact, which are the topics that are piquing Gen Z's attention, and which businesses, industry experts, and young people are leading the way?

Sustainability and marketing to Gen Z

What does sustainability really mean to Gen Z, and how is it impacting their lives? As revealed in our 'Gen Z or Gen Green?' report, many young people want to make sustainable choices (41% are worried about climate change) but admit that it isn't always possible due to economic and social constraints. Therefore, it's up to you as brands and youth marketers, to step up, campaign for change, and make responsible decisions.

With more than half of Gen Zers saying they'd be more inclined to buy from a brand if they made sustainable choices and 39% think brands should work with planet-friendly influencers, it's clearly an issue that young people are clearly prioritizing when it comes to their purchasing decisions.

Gen Z fashion, group of women

And what about the activists, influencers, and entrepreneurs taking action and making a difference? Join us at YMS for our Gen Z Unicorns: Our Future Changemakers session, where Anya Dillard (The Next Gen Come Up), Brittany Krystantos (author and mental health advocate), Melissa Li (Dorm Room Fund), and Neal Sivadas (TikTok) will be taking to the stage to share what inspired them, how they're driving change for their peers, and how they want to make an impact on society today.

Supporting Gen Z LGBTQ+ communities through marketing

The LGBTQ+ community continues to face a number of obstacles in everyday life, and whilst this may be the most diverse generation yet, there are still a number of barriers preventing them from feeling represented in marketing.

And it doesn't stop with marketing - in our 'Inclusivity in Fashion & Retail' report, we revealed that 54% of Gen Z have felt the need to dress for their gender, whilst 20% of Gen Z students revealed that they've never been taught about contraception in a non-heterosexual relationship. Interestingly, 26% of Gen Z think fashion brands should avoid using gendered language to sell products.

Gen Z women, LGBTQ+ flag

And how can brands drive the change this community needs? What values and expectations does Gen Z have of brands to advocate and accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community? Tristan Marra, Head of Research & Reports at GLAAD, will be sharing how brands and agencies can be more engaged and inclusive.

Meanwhile, during our Gen Z Panel: Ask Us Anything session at YMS NYC, our young panelists will be taking to the stage to share why representation in the media is so important and how your brand can make a difference.

Rising inflation, shrinking budgets

Having lived through a global pandemic, war, and climate change, rising inflation is yet another challenging global event that Gen Zers are having to live through. As brands and youth marketers, taking the time to understand how young people are impacted by inflation will not only help you to supercharge your marketing campaigns, boost engagement and gain loyal customers, but will also support Gen Z's financial wellbeing and mental health.

Currently, 96% of students are struggling with rising inflation more than people realize, with 36% of college students receiving money from a student loan and 35% receiving a Pell Grant.

Gen Z person sitting down on a laptop

Camilo, a Gen Z panelist on a recent Voxburner and Student Beans webinar, is a full-time student, has two part-time jobs and a "few side gigs", but admits that that still isn't enough to support them during these times. "In one of my jobs, I make $10 an hour, which is still 50 cents more than minimum wage where I live" they said, "The stress of it is huge". The full webinar, 'Rising Inflation, Shrinking Budgets: How Brands Can Secure College Students' Spending and Loyalty', is available to watch on-demand now.

And this stress is impacting every aspect of Gen Z's lives: recent research revealed that 38% of Gen Z students say their financial position has negatively impacted their friendships, 33% say their relationships with family are affected and 28% say their dating lives are suffering. Meanwhile, only 18% are truly confident in knowing where to go if they're struggling financially.

You can hear more about how rising inflation is impacting young people at our Gen Z Panel: Ask Us Anything session at YMS NYC.

Supercharge your marketing strategy and join us at YMS, where we’ll be heading to New York to unite the youth marketing community, share relevant industry news, platform the most inspiring speakers and share the freshest insights.

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