Purpose-driven advertising resonates most with younger viewers

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

New research has shown that brands which engage with important issues through purpose-driving advertising build a stronger connection with younger people.

The paper was commissioned by Channel 4’s 4 Sales and found that 55% of respondents believed that brands should be a force for good in the world, rather than just selling products or services.

45% said they were particularly receptive to ads with a message and 60% of 16-24 year olds thought they noticed ads more if they dealt with important issues.

That figure compares to 55% of 35-44 year olds and 37% for those aged over 45.

Products and services that “felt ethical” also had a better response among the young and 56% said they’d be willing to pay more for ethical products.

41% explained that they had boycotted a brand because they didn’t agree with what it stood for.

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

The research also showed that: 

  • 57% of young people believe brands should use their advertising to raise awareness about social or ethical issues.
  • 60% of consumers believe that any brand can start a conversation or raise awareness about important issues. Londoners care more about this kind of marketing than the rest of the country.
  • 16 to 34s are 39% more likely to think it’s important that a brand features diversity in their advertising than those aged 35+.
  • 16-34s are almost twice as likely (98%) to claim that an advert has made them talk about important issues with friends or family than those aged 35+.

The research took place with 24 16-34 year olds in London and Manchester, with collated survey responses from 1000 people, half aged 16-34 and half 35-65. There was also analysis of social media engagement with purpose driven campaigns.