Do #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #ChooseToChallenge ring a bell?

They are just some of the social activism movements that have spread like wildfire in recent years as people band together to transform society.

These movements have fundamentally changed the world as we know it, bringing brand purpose to the forefront, particularly with the Gen Z audience.

From taking action against racial injustice to joining the fight for diversity and equality, there’s no denying that brand activism has become an increasingly important tool in society today.

Besides making the world a better place, authentic brand activism can help a brand build loyalty and cultivate lifelong customers. It can increase brand exposure and impact your business’ bottom line.

There’s no denying its value, but if you’re still unsure, we’ve compiled some key points to consider:

‘Purpose’ is the forefront of mind for Gen Z

Gen Z, the world’s largest generation of consumers are choosing to support brands that make a difference. They expect brands to speak out about important social issues.

Gen Z grew up swiping before they could talk and share a powerful belief that they can, and will, change the world for the better – whether that means taking on social injustice, sustainability or another cause.

IMPACT’s Account Executive Caroline and her friends love fashion, but lately they are looking more closely at what’s in their wardrobe. What is the true cost of fashion? Do their favourite brands make sustainable choices in their manufacturing? Where are the materials sourced from? Do the models the brands use in their campaign reflect the diversity of their city?

Considering 98 per cent of Gen Z consumers own a smart phone, and 85 per cent learn about new products via social media – it’s vital brands take into consideration this new generation of vocal social campaigners, like Caroline and her friends.

Should brands speak out?

Remaining silent on the sidelines is becoming less of an option for brands. However, for those looking to join a social movement, the stakes can also be high.

Brands are now being held accountable by consumers to ensure they are practising what they preach in their hiring, collaborations and ad campaigns.

Fashion brand Zimmerman was scrutinised after posting about Black Lives Matter. After posting a message of support on Instagram, the luxury fashion label was publicly called out about the lack of diversity in its own marketing campaigns.

Just as consumers have evolved, so must brands. So, what should you do?

Stand for something before taking a stand

  • Jumping on the back of popular social movements should be approached with authenticity. In simpler words, brands need to do then tell as credibility and authenticity results in trust.
  • Before joining the social activism bandwagon, you must think before you act. When used for no other reason than to boost your sales, savvy customers will see right through it as brands are being called out more than ever before for ungenuine communications.
  • Establish a position and then deliver it in a meaningful way. Rather than simply participating in a social movement, brands must have a foundation or be furthering the steps to solidify their commitment to the social cause.
  • To gain full trust of belief-driven consumers, brands must follow up their statements with substantial action such as supporting organisations, donating to charities or actively making a change within their organisation.

Brands that got it right

Aussie brands Cotton On and The Iconic were just a couple of the brands who got it right when they posted messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, backing their messages with donations to organisations that fight racial injustice.

A vocal supporter of inclusivity, Modibodi is also leading by example. Since day one, the innovative Aussie leak-proof underwear brand has championed body positivity. Sourcing people from diverse backgrounds, ages, abilities, genders, sexual orientations and sizes for all of its marketing campaigns – which remain photoshop free!

What does this mean?

Ultimately, the changes in consumer behaviour mean one thing: brand activism is here to stay. Moral of the story is that today’s consumers expect more from brands.

If modern social movements truly align with your brand values, activism as a marketing strategy is a powerful means to engage with a modern audience, and Caroline and her friends are trying to find her authentic place in it.