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Young Adults Take Action With Their Wallets

Money talks and whether it’s mental health, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Medicare for all, or women’s rights, young people ages 18 to 30 want to do business with brands that align with their values.

Young adults care about social issues and associated movements and aside from looking up information and signing petitions. They are using their wallets to convey their support, not by making direct donations to causes, but by embracing or abandoning brands.

Supporting companies where stated values align with their own and boycotting brands that don’t were cited as ways to make a statement by 25% of respondents in this year’s spring report Influencing Young America to Act by Cause and Social Influence (CSI), a part of agency influenceesg.com.  

Of the 1,000 respondents in the nationally-projectable sample, 34% took time to learn about an issue and 28% signed a petition.

Of those polled, 20% reported decreasing the way they purchased products or services, and 18% shared information about an issue on social media. Young Americans responded that they are also adamant that companies have a responsibility to take a stand on social issues to influence change, with 67% saying they thought that way. Some 39% responded that they think that brands should step up because of the influence corporates have to spark change. 

Money is the influencer when it comes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with 29% of young adults saying they changed the way they purchased products. Of the respondents, 26% took time to learn about the issue and 23% signed a petition.

This age group overall is socially conscious and considers mental health to be a chief concern in 2022, with the majority citing it as the biggest issue of interest. Women’s rights ranked second, followed by animal rights, COVID, the environment, and wage increases. 

“Young Americans are still actively seeking to learn more about social issues that concern them. As the isolating phases of the pandemic seem to be ending, young Americans are particularly curious about and supportive of women’s issues and mental health,” according to the report’s authors.

The 18-30 age group is also highly influenced by social media, with almost one-third of respondents stating they were moved to action because of an ad on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. However, a little more than a quarter also took action unprompted and 23% stepped up because they followed a particular organization and responded to a request.

As far as elected leaders, two-thirds responded they believe the federal government is addressing the concerns that matter to them most but feel less confident about congressional lawmakers and state officials. 

Young Americans are evenly split about the job President Joseph Biden is doing, with one-third responding that he has adequately addressed issues such as the pandemic and social justice for Black Americans, and one-third responding that he has not. Some 30% aren’t sure if the state of the country is better than it was before the 2020 election, with 28% saying it’s on track and 17% stating it’s off track.

Biden’s job regarding the war in Ukraine kicked up similar responses, with 39% responding they don’t approve of the way he’s handling the conflict and 34% responding he’s doing a good job. More than half of the respondents — 58% — think the U.S. should put out the welcome mat for Ukrainian refugees and 42% think America should have military forces aiding Ukraine. 

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