Do consumers think they can impact change? Are they using their time, voice or money to take action? Do their daily behaviors indicate a likelihood of aligning their vote, dollars and social posts with doing good? According to new research from values-based investing platform COIN, consumers have a bleak outlook on their individual power to do so.
Only 23 percent of Americans actually believe in their individual impact to create positive change, despite a strong desire to see progress, the firm’s 2019 State of the Conscious Consumer Studyreveals. The survey of more than 1,000 adults set out to measure the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of American consumers toward positive social and environmental change.
The study found a majority of U.S. adults agree that addressing the following social and environmental issues is important to the future:
More than half believe that donating money (56 percent) or investing in companies supporting the issues they care about (54 percent) are impactful actions to take to drive progress—yet one in four believe they don’t have enough money (25 percent), time (26 percent) or information (26 percent) to take action. And although two-thirds (67 percent) know they are voting with their dollars, they prioritize convenience and cost savings over impacting social change with their money.
“We see great opportunity for educating, especially younger consumers, about the role money can play in making change. Despite popular belief, you don’t need much money to make an impact,” said Megan Schleck, co-founder and CEO of COIN, in a news release. “That’s why we’re excited to offer COIN as a way for people to take control over the impact they want to see in the world with as little as $50. We believe in the compounding power of individual action. We can’t assume someone else will create change for us.”
Other key findings from the survey show:
Gen Z: Progressive Optimists
Gen Zers (ages 18-24) take the generational lead when it comes to optimism about their individual impact, as they are 155 percent more likely than Boomers to believe their individual actions make an impact. Almost half of Gen Z believes the U.S. has made at least some progress against sustainable development (48 percent), equal access to prosperity (44 percent) and environmental issues or planet health (44 percent). They are the least likely generation to view money as a tool for driving positive change, as 60 percent don’t know how to impact social change with their money (tied with Millennials) and 59 percent have never considered how to impact social change using money.
Boomers: Values Guided Realists
Boomers (ages 55+) are the generation most likely to be interested in investing their dollars in companies aligned with their values (42 percent more likely than Gen Z). This counters the presumed trend that younger generations are the ones clamoring for transparency in investing – it seems investing for impact is a cross-generational want.
Parents: Leaders by Example
Parents are more likely than the average population to think their individual efforts are driving real change. They’re also 18 percent more likely to take action in support of social issues because they want to be an example for those around them. They lead on believing social sharing and commentary is driving change (20 percent more likely than the general population) and 62 percent say they invest in companies that support the issues they care about.
The 2019 “State of the Conscious Consumer” Study was commissioned by COIN by John Hancockand fielded by independent research firm Equation Research in May 2019. The responses were generated from a survey of 1,003 people ages 18+.