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  • Writer's pictureJoeri Van den Bergh

South Africa’s Generation Z - Socially conscious living and spending

Comprising one third of the global population, Generation Z wields an impressive collective disposable income projected to soar to $33 trillion in the coming decade. Brands cannot afford to overlook this generation; indeed, the future of businesses hinges upon their preferences. But what defines this generation, and what are their expectations from brands?


Socially conscious spending

Gen Z is characterized by its activism, a trait that shapes their expectations of brands. In South Africa, they highly value brands that reflect their own consumer values (78%), prioritize authenticity (75%), and embrace inclusivity (74%). An overwhelming 83% of Gen Z individuals in South Africa believe that brands should actively contribute to improving people's lives.


This inclination to address social issues also influences Gen Z's purchasing decisions. In South Africa, they are willing to invest more in brands that are black- or female-owned (55% and 48% respectively) and promote inclusive practices (77%). Moreover, they are willing to pay a premium for brands that demonstrate a commitment to societal well-being (82%) and adopt sustainable business practices (78%).


Agents of change: South Africa's Conscious Gen Z

This Conscious Generation Z is poised to drive societal change, not only because they aspire to, but also due to their adeptness at effecting it. They are more vocal than their predecessors, yet they are also a generation facing significant challenges. Hence, they seek guidance, particularly from brands.


A striking 71% of Gen Z desires brands to contribute positively to society. Moreover, they expect brands to actively engage in discussions about necessary societal changes (79%) and to comment on news, social, and political events (50%). This focus on social justice is mirrored in their spending behavior, with 77% of Gen Z and 73% of Millennials willing to invest more in brands that champion inclusive practices.


In a proactive move to address mental health challenges, Maybelline New York has partnered with prominent South African non-profit organizations like Sadag. Through their innovative #BraveTogether program, the brand aims to destigmatize anxiety and depression. Offering accessible support and resources, such as counseling via WhatsApp, Maybelline fosters a culture of solidarity and support for those facing mental health struggles.


Maybelline New York Brave Together campaign

Supporting Gen Z's well-being

A substantial portion (45%) of Gen Z in South Africa experiences stress, primarily attributed to financial concerns (58%), academic or job pressures (54%), or family circumstances (45%). This is unsurprising, given the prevailing youth unemployment rates in South Africa.


The challenges faced by Generation Z have significant implications for their mental health, with 37% of Zoomers citing this as a major stressor, a higher percentage compared to 22% of Gen Y, 11% of Gen X, and 14% of baby boomers. Despite these pressures, Gen Z embraces a culture of openness regarding mental health struggles, embodying the ethos that 'it’s ok to not be ok'. They actively advocate for dropping taboos surrounding mental health and expect brands to play a supportive role in addressing these issues.


Despite these challenges, Gen Z is remarkably open about their mental health struggles, viewing brands as potential allies in this regard. Brands are increasingly seen as more than just product providers; they serve as mentors, agents of change, and outlets for self-expression. In a landscape where Gen Z's influence is undeniable, brands must align themselves with their values of conscious consumption and social activism. By embodying authenticity, inclusivity, and a commitment to social betterment, brands can resonate with Gen Z and secure their allegiance in the long run.


More on what drives this Conscious Generation Z?

Download your free copy of our ‘Ready for the Zoomers’ report.

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