Older Irish consumers ‘care less about the ethics of businesses’

New study suggests younger buyers are more likely to demand higher ethical standards

New research suggests that as Irish people age, they become less likely to want to do good through their shopping habits. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

New research suggests that as Irish people age, they become less likely to want to do good through their shopping habits. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The 1960s-inspired idealism which marked the birth of the baby boomer generation appears to have waned in the State.

Research published today suggests that older people are less likely to care about the ethics of the companies with whom they do business than those who reached adulthood in the 21st-century.

The study shows that Irish consumers are demanding greater transparency from companies when it comes to the sourcing of materials, conditions for workers and environmental issues than ever before.

However, it also indicates that as Irish people age, they become less likely to want to do good through their shopping habits.

The analysis, part of Accenture’s 14th annual Global Consumer Pulse Research, which surveyed 30,000 people worldwide, including 420 in Ireland, suggests that most consumers here prefer to buy goods and services from companies that reflect their personal values and beliefs and are happy to ditch those that do not.

It states that 59 per cent of Irish consumers want companies to take a stand on social, cultural, environmental and political issues, with younger consumers more likely to demand higher ethical standards.

While 63 per cent of millennials and members of Generation Z prefer to buy from companies with a purpose that reflects their own values, the percentage of baby boomers – those aged between 54 and 75 – who are similarly inclined falls to 53 per cent.

The study says that 68 per cent of young people want companies to take a stand on social, cultural, environmental and political issues close to their hearts, with just 54 per cent of baby boomers sharing that view.

All told, 53 per cent of younger consumers said they had stopped doing business with companies that failed to take a stand on issues of importance to them, with the number falling to 29 per cent among the older cohort.

Authenticity

Some 67 per cent of consumers under 30 said their purchasing considerations were driven by a company’s ethical values and authenticity, compared with 50 per cent of the boomer generation who said likewise. Some 72 per cent of millennials and Generation Z consumers said their spending decisions were influenced by the words, values and actions of companies, compared with 40 per cent of the older cohort.

The survey also suggests 75 per cent of young people believe their individual actions, such as boycotting a company or speaking out on social media, can alter company behaviour. This dropped to 54 per cent among baby boomers.

However, the study also found that 55 per cent of baby boomers wanted business leaders to speak up on issues they care about, compared with 49 per cent of the under-30s.

“Purpose is more than companies simply responding to issues of the day. It’s about having a genuine and meaningful commitment to important principles that Irish consumers care about – such as health and wellbeing, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability and family connections – which inform every business decision,” said Karen O’Regan, managing director with Accenture Strategy. “Many companies have neglected to convey purpose due to complacency, lethargy or the fear of polarising people, which has allowed smaller players to rise.”