U.S. consumers are paying closer attention to politics than ever these days, and that’s changing the way some of them plan to shop for the holidays. In a recent holiday shopping survey conducted by The NPD Group, more consumers today than last year reported that a manufacturer’s or retailer’s position on current social, environmental, and political issues would affect their purchasing decisions over the holidays. Younger consumers, especially Generation Z consumers born after 1997, were particularly sensitive to a company’s stance on social and environmental issues—no small thing, considering this young age cohort will account for 40% of all consumers in 2020.
“In this mid-term election year, political polarization and activism is on the rise in this country, and it’s bleeding into the upcoming holiday season, especially among younger consumers,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group. “While many might disregard the social and environmental views of younger consumers, they do so at their peril. After all, the oldest Gen Z consumers are just now entering the workforce—and the purchasing power of this generation will increase significantly in the years ahead.”
Social and environmental issues
More than half of consumers (52%) said that a manufacturer’s or a retailer’s position on social or environmental issues would impact their holiday buying decisions, which is three percentage points higher than 2017. Among the Generation Z cohort, that number rose to 65%, followed by Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, at 55%. “Younger generations want—and will pay a premium for—brands that stand for something and those that have corporate social programs that are aligned with their values,” Cohen says.
Similarly, nearly half (47%) of all U.S. consumers indicated that general political issues would play a role in their purchases, which is three points higher than last year. Nearly half (49%) of Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, reported that a company’s politics would affect their buying decisions, followed by Generation Z at 48%, and Millennials at 47%.