Americans’ buying habits being dictated by a company’s social consciousness and overall kindness had been trending upward for years. In fact, there was a big spike in 2018, according to CivicScience data. But in recent months, people who say a company’s social standing is “very important” has cratered, with those who say it’s merely “somewhat important” rising in near lockstep.
So what’s behind this drop in Americans caring deeply about a company’s social behavior? The answers may come as a surprise.
Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X all flipped; they went from more likely to say “very important” to more likely to say “somewhat important” over the last two years. But Baby Boomers and older? They went against the grain. In fact, 6% more Americans 55+ now think it’s “very important” a company is kind and socially conscious compared to a year ago.
And here’s something even more astounding: While every age group ticked down (or stayed relatively the same) in overall importance on the issue – combining “very” and “somewhat” important – the 55+ crowd has drastically gone in the other direction. Year-over-year, they are 10% more likely to place at least some importance on how a business behaves when it comes to the likelihood in their decision to shop or make a purchase there.
While both men and women saw near-equal percentage decreases year-over-year, it is worth noting women care about a company’s social stance at a 20% higher rate than men over the last year.
When looking at the big three retailers, people who have a favorable view of Target are nearly 7% more likely consider it “very important” to look at a company’s stance on social issues than people who have a favorable view of Walmart. Target fans are also 14% more likely than Amazon fans to do the same.
But when adding those who put any importance on the issue of how businesses conduct themselves in their social ways, Target favorables remain on top, but Amazon scoots ahead of Walmart by a few percentage points.
And while numbers in the following category ticked down year-over-year, people who are concerned with the environment are substantially more likely to pay attention to how a company handles itself in the social world.
People who live in cities are significantly more attuned to how kind a company is, although while their numbers went down year-over-year in the “very important” category, suburban residents – much like the 55+ crowd – bucked the trend. Overall, they are 9% more likely, year-over-year, to place at least some importance on how a business behaves.
Americans who like to shop local – while again, also going down year-over-year in the “very important” category – still place a higher degree of importance on a company’s social consciousness than Americans who aren’t that interested in shopping local.
Lastly – and this one is wild – if you have a favorable view of Oprah Winfrey, you care a lot about the kindness quotient of a company. In fact, people who like Oprah place at least some importance on a business’s behavior at a ridiculous 62% higher rate than people who don’t like Oprah.
Overall, the number of Americans who care deeply about a company’s stance on social issues and overall kindness is trending down. But in two broad and major categories – suburban residents and Americans over the age of 55 – the numbers are going in the opposite direction, and at higher rates. Clearly, there is a push and pull going on right now when it comes to this issue, and this will certainly be an area CivicScience will be tracking closely in the coming months and years.