Top brands are among the early movers when it comes to adapting to new circumstances. And change is being driven by a new and powerful force. Gen Z.
Early in the pandemic, we began to see attitudes change. Whereas before, top brands could offer their products with images of parties and wind-swept people doing wind-swept things, now they are judged on how much they are helping.
And help comes in different shapes and sizes. Telcos suddenly jumped up the popularity ratings because they did so much to keep people connected, whether through free broadband or with contracts. Other brands have begun to realise just how powerful this movement is and top brands are leading the way.
This was evident at CES last month.
While Brad Smith of Microsoft was talking up the tech industry’s responsibility when it comes to the risks and rewards of AI, other leaders were demonstrating a new empathy with their audience.
Procter and Gamble, a top brand if ever there was one, has launched a campaign called ‘Lead with Love’ and P&G has committed to 2,021 acts of good during 2021 as a key part of that campaign.
Meanwhile, Mary Barra, chairman of General Motors, spoke of 2021 as a call to action. GM intends to become one of the most diverse companies in the world, and she announced a $1 million donation to the online learning platform Khan Academy.
Because, said Barra, “if this ambition, talent and technology doesn’t add up to a safer world for all, then it isn’t better.”
As powerful the influence of Gen Z is on top brands (and the shift is reminiscent of the iconic ‘Pay it Forward’ film – snippet below) there is another, perhaps equally powerful force at work – literally.
For years free of burdensome regulation and restriction, the top brand tech companies are finding their Gen Z employees forming groups that keep them accountable.
We have reported just recently, the Google Workers’ Union, which, as predicted, has already gone global and is now Alpha Global.
In a survey into how Gen Zers see a ‘better normal’ emerging, Wunderman Thompson discovered that this generation refuses to work for companies that do not stick to their stated values and ethics. Google’s parent, Alphabet, has been the first target of Gen Z forming unions. Still, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook have already seen pressure from within to change direction, take down posts and behave as human beings.
Ultimately this new force will benefit everyone, but until then companies would be wise to assess the new landscape and probably follow top brands into a more empathetic relationship with customers and stakeholders.