Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Gen -Y has often been described as Gen Why, with its search for meaning so hated by the previous generation. Put all hate aside this is why they are focused and keen about humanity, environment, financial justice and other relevant social topics. Gen Z on the other hand not only questions the status quo but actively shapes and challenges it. And so we see a layer in society consisting of 18 to 35 year-olds who earn well-paid jobs in the digital economy, media, or work as influencers and free spirits earning enough money for an individual lifestyle.
This is accompanied by a growth of Neo-brokers worldwide, that allow you to invest in companies such as Apple, Facebook or Amazon for as little as 10 euros a month. Just a few years ago this would have required a minimum investment of 2500+ euros. Something that none of the aforementioned were willing to pay, not to mention the inability to diversify a portfolio with under 10k.
Now the possibility of owning shares in a company at a reasonable price is combined with the search for meaning and the desire for a change in the world for the better. Why should someone from this target group invest in Ford? BP? American Airlines, Walmart, P&G or JP Morgan? Lufthansa? Daimler? Despite some of these brands still being strong in heritage and charisma by their expertise, their attraction is declining. There is in fact no reason for a value-oriented generation to buy into these companies. Gen-Y as well as Gen-Z both have 50–90 years on this planet ahead of them and will only support what supports them in their individual plans to save the planet and humanity (or at least does not make it worse).
We are investing in the future, we are not looking away or standing still. We want to shape and take part. Money reigns the world, so giving money to those that actually change society, save the planet and care about humanity is a great way to change the world for the better.
To all the companies not convinced yet, the signs of the times are clear:
Crises are a wake-up call for balance.
In his Book “Das Megatrend-Prinzip: Wie die Welt von morgen entsteht” futurologist Matthias Horx assumes that crises are a sign that our world is not in balance. And if you look closely you will find out, that 2020 shows us pretty darn clearly that we are in urgent need of restoring balance.
We have an environmental crisis (global warming, ozone hole, melting of polar caps, forest fires, extinction of species, coral and reef death, ocean plastic, toxic waste …), there have been repeated indications of an economic crisis (global debt, banking crisis, fiat money power, dollar, rise of China) and we have a health crisis (civilization diseases, corona, mental disorders in adolescents).
Therefore, we should ask ourselves how we can bring our system back to balance — by not acting, we risk not only our physical and mental health, but also the survival of humanity itself.
How to profit in this scenario?
First, this is what happens if you won't act: Brands that do not listen to the market and consumers die a slow and uncomfortable death on the edge of relevance.
Thereby enough chances are obvious. It is important to take people’s needs seriously and support them with your product. Companies that do not take a socially relevant position in this environment are ignored by the growing, affluent and digitally networked elite and put into the irrelevant set.
Learn to read the signs of the times. Change your business model, reduce mark-ups, change your attitude, put values in the center of all your actions and live them in a real and authentic way. Get C02 neutral, stop marketing material waste, don't fuck up your user with upselling mechanics, donate partial earnings, rethink your production material, exchange your supply chain.
Funny, as the top 10 companies with the best CSR reputation somehow remind us pretty accurately about our culture – Rolex, Lego, Disney, Adidas Group, Microsoft, Sony, Cannon, Michelin, Netflix, Bosch.
Think about the human, think about humanity and about mankind. What can you do (I am pretty sure you can do a lot) with your product, your model, your role and your skills to restore a tiny bit of balance. Get a strategy or corporate identity agency to help you with your culture, start with brand, not with performance. Then come up with killer ideas (again creative agencies can help, if you brief them the right way) on how to execute these values.
You can find these ideas yourself if you ask: Does this help my customer? Does my customer gain value/profit (instead of asking yourself how you can profit)? Does my mission do any good for society, the environment, or human mankind? How can I contribute, support, enable, or give voice? Does my business model fit into the zeitgeist?
Answer those for your individual company skills and position. Both talents and shareholders will then not be able to resist your brand. Profit will be flowing your way — naturally. Young investors will be like “Sooo, this product is gonna save the planet? … Shut up and take my money”.
Convince a young audience to follow your brand for a better future and you become emotionally connected with your target group being aligned through the same goals. You become a hero brand. The world of today does not need love brands, it needs more hero brands.