LONDON: Young people aged between 16 and 34 are particularly receptive to purpose-driven ads that convey a message about important societal issues, according to new research from Channel 4.

The UK broadcaster’s sales division polled 1,000 consumers, split equally between those aged 16-34 and 35-65, as well as a group of 61 agency workers, and concluded that “brands which engage with important issues through purpose-driven advertising are able to build a stronger connection with young customers”.

According to the findings, 55% of all respondents believe brands should be a force for good, instead of focusing on just selling their products and services (45%), but younger people are noticeably more receptive to ethical communications.

For example, 60% of young people claim to notice ads more if they deal with important issues, compared to 55% of people aged 35 to 44 and just 37% of those aged 45+.

Young people have a high regard for products and services that feel ethical, with 56% of those aged 16 to 34 saying they are more likely to equate ethical products with better quality than those aged 35+.

The same proportion of young people (56%) also claim that they’re willing to pay more for ethical products, compared to 44% of consumers aged 35+.

And importantly, a perceived lack of ethics has a negative impact on impressions of a brand, with 41% of young people claiming to have boycotted a brand because they didn’t agree with what it stood for. That compares with just a third (33%) of those aged 35+.

For reasons left unexplained, this sentiment is especially strong among Londoners, who are 31% more likely to have boycotted a brand and 32% more likely to consider making a purchase if an ad features important issues.

Elsewhere, the survey also found that consumers aged 16 to 34 are 39% more likely to think it’s important that a brand features diversity in their advertising than those aged 35+, while 57% of this younger age group believe brands should use their ads to raise awareness about social or ethical issues.

“This research shows that the market for purpose-driven ads is far from saturated,” said Jonathan Lewis, head of digital and partnership innovation at Channel 4.

“But people have very clear expectations about what they want from brands operating in this space: they need to be genuine in their messaging, stay relevant to their industries and create resonant ads that cut through,” he added.

Sourced from Channel 4; additional content by WARC staff