Young people in the UK are becoming increasingly wary of support from brands for popular social and charitable causes after a new report found that trust is now at “an all-time low”.
The joint study, entitled ‘Generation Cynic’, was released by Hype Collective and The Park earlier this week and includes a range of insights into the way that Gen Z view brand messages and advertising.
While there has been a demand for brands to come out in support of important causes in the past, the study suggests that younger people are more sceptical of the practice.
Six in 10 of the 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed said that they believe that the vast majority of brand support for social issues is not actually genuine, while 15% said that companies were only speaking up to avoid criticism.
It appears that an alignment between personal values and brand advocacy is not something that is important for young Brits.
Just 6% of respondents said that they would boycott a brand if they did not see eye to eye with it regarding certain values.
Hype Collective’s managing director Simon Lucey said that showing support for issues can be a great thing but warned against any form of “inauthentic brand activism”, which could have a damaging impact on a brand’s image in the long term.
“To be credible, brands must prove what they’re about. Latching on to a trending topic or posting a hollow statement on social media doesn’t cut the mustard,” The Park’s co-founder Will Worsdell said.
However, 71% of young people said that supporting causes is something that brands should be doing even if there are ulterior motives, which suggests that companies can often be caught between a rock and a hard place.
The report noted that brands that do pursue advocacy should always attempt to be authentic and transparent about their motives.