umb skin1 Web Content Viewer

umb skin2 Actions

Young consumers care about social issues

Date posted:  11/16/15 12:00:00 AM Young shoppers tend to care more about social issues before making a purchase than the general population.

There aren't many mindless purchases for young adults, according to a recent survey from KPMG, an audit and advisory firm.

Major brands, retail chains and small businesses looking to secure post-college shoppers this holiday season would do well to promote environmentally friendly practices and transparency with their product labels.

The survey, which used 1,000 adults ages 18 and over, found that 70 percent of consumers under the age of 30 take social issues, human rights and fair trade into account before making a purchase. That was more than 20 percent higher than consumers overall, with less than half of all respondents feeling the same way.

KPMG reported that as companies prepare for the holiday shopping season and work diligently to find cost savings and enhance efficiency with suppliers, government regulations are highlighting social issues across supply chains.

Grocery stores helping lead the way

Not surprisingly, sustainable and environmentally friendly products were also a hot issue. Jim Low, an audit partner with KPMG, said that more consumers than ever before are looking for products that are deemed environmentally friendly.

"Many of the regulations are accelerating trends that would take place anyway," Low said. "Retailers are increasingly asking their suppliers to assess their environmental and social sustainability. Several of the leading retail and grocery chains have recently introduced ranking systems to help consumers identify sustainable products. Consumers and investors continue to increase pressure on companies to adopt more sustainable practices."

Social issues and big purchases

According to the study, young consumers are even more in tune with social issues when contemplating a large purchase such as a computer, electronics, jewelry or a car. They consider social issues more with high-priced items than everyday purchases such as food, household goods and gasoline.

"A lot of these campaigns around human rights and sustainability begin on college campuses," Low said. "It would fall within reason that younger people are more influenced by social issues when they shop. But a large percentage of mature consumers are also engaged in ethical consumption."

The survey said that 33 percent of consumers under the age of 30 always or frequently consider social issues before purchasing everyday items. That number jumps to 41 percent for that group when they are contemplating a larger purchase.

Comparing young shoppers to the general population

Thirteen percent of consumers under 30 are always considering social issues with everyday items compared to 6.5 percent from the general population.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, nearly 15 percent of those under 30 said they never considered social issues when buying everyday items. That number jumps to more than 27 percent for the general population.

"Additionally, celebrities and college campuses around the nation are organizing awareness and conflict-free campaigns," Low added. "Based on our survey results, companies who have a head start on this issue are in a position to quickly carve out a competitive advantage with consumers. What's more, greater supply chain transparency can help companies develop a more resilient and efficient supply chain."

More expensive items showed a similar trend

Consumers under 30 were 4 percent more likely to consider social issues compared to the general population when debating purchases on expensive items such as furniture or appliances. The general population was also roughly 10 percent more likely to never consider social issues when making a big purchase.

Similar results were seen for those in the middle of the road. More than a fourth of the the under-30 crowd reported that they occasionally think about social issues before making a big purchase, which was just 2 percent more than the general population.