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Despite Global Challenges, Aspirational Consumers See Brands, Capitalism as Force for Positive Change

Despite profound economic, political and social challenges around the world, a rising generation of Aspirational consumers is optimistic about the future and sees brands and free market capitalism as a force for positive change, finds a new global study by BBMG and GlobeScan.

According to the report, Five Human Aspirations and the Future of Brands, Aspirationals are more likely than any other consumer segment to “believe the world is going in the right direction” (49 percent Aspirationals, 40 percent Global Public [GP]), and that “our children and grandchildren will have a higher quality of life than we do today” (56 percent Aspirationals, 48 percent GP).

This sense of optimism includes a belief in their power to influence corporate behavior, with nearly eight-in-ten Aspirationals saying, “As a consumer, I can make a difference in how a company behaves” (78 percent Aspirationals, 68 percent GP).

“In an emerging 21st century, a generation shaped by 9/11, perpetual wars, economic crises and environmental threats is experiencing an equal and opposite reaction toward generosity, creativity, collaboration and caring,” says Raphael Bemporad, co-founder of BBMG. “Aspirationals are defined by an innate sense of optimism and a belief that everyday actions when joined with the actions of their peers can make a positive difference in the world.”

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The report finds that more than twice as many Aspirational consumers want to improve free market capitalism rather than replace it, with 55 percent of Aspirationals saying that “free market capitalism has some problems, but these can be addressed through regulation and reform” (51 percent GP), compared to 22 percent who believe that “free market capitalism is fatally flawed, and a different economic system is needed” (22 percent GP). One-in-ten Aspirationals (13 percent) say “free market capitalism works well and efforts to increase regulation will make it much less efficient” (13 percent GP).

Similarly, Aspirationals match the general public in believing that companies should be:

  • responsible for creating positive impact by “ensuring products are safe and healthy” (74 percent)
  • “providing fair wages to all employees” (72 percent)
  • “not harming the environment” (70 percent)
  • “ensuring a responsible supply chain” (69 percent), and
  • “treating employees fairly” (66 percent).

Aspirationals are more likely than the global public in their expectation that companies should:

  • “support charities and community projects” (60 percent Aspirationals to 57 percent GP)
  • “reduce human rights abuses” (56 percent to 54 percent)
  • “help reduce the rich-poor gap” (55 percent to 52 percent), and
  • “solve social problems” (53 percent to 49 percent).

“Aspirationals’ propensity for brand love and loyalty comes with new expectations for corporate purpose, responsibility and behavior. They expect brands to lead with their values and meet higher standards for health, safety, fairness and social impact in ways that drive progress for people and positive impact for the world,” says Mitch Baranowski, co-founder of BBMG. “With the Aspirationals, brand leaders now have an opportunity to leverage sustainability and social purpose to drive relevance, relationships, loyalty and business growth.”

“The Aspirational generation isn’t defined by age, but rather the desire for their actions to meet their needs, have a positive impact on others and connect them with an ideal or community that’s bigger than themselves,” says Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan. “Representing more than one-third of the global adult population, Aspirationals are connecting the right thing to do with the cool thing to do, creating new possibilities for brands, business and society.”


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