Insight
Jun 14, 2010
The economic downturn creates a change in consumer behavior around the world; introducing the generosity generation.

the g generation 

The economic downturn has led to a wave of gloom in our society; however, it also accelerates trends and entails new choices in our spending. Individuals and brands have understood this and new consumption habits are emerging...

The G Generation (for Generosity) is not defined by socio-demographic factors. It is comprised of people – whatever their age, sex or social background - for whom generosity, sharing and altruism are necessary to improve the current gloomy mood and contribute to the smooth functioning of society.

The emergence of this trend was rapidly accelerated by the economic downturn, which has helped to fundamentally change consumer behaviour around the world. Consumers now prefer quality to price and brands that respect the employee. The downturn also challenges our values and lifestyles and has given rise to new purchasing criteria: durable goods, fair trade, trusted brands, transparency, etc. Opportunities for positive change in our behaviour are therefore appearing. 

the end of careless consumerism 

today, genuine progress is not consuming more, but ‘consuming better’. Price is no longer the issue: looking for healthy, sustainable and fair products, respecting the environment and social issues play a more and more important part in purchasing decisions.

more generous consumers

We also see various spontaneous actions appearing, which contribute to combat the current gloom: 

-Free Hugs: this movement, launched in Australia in 2004, has been taken up by INPES in particular in a campaign to combat discrimination against AIDS patients.

-Flashmobs: these mass demonstrations are a form of peaceful revolt that raise awareness of major causes (particularly ecology) and create a buzz.

-‘Giant aperitifs’ (giant drinking get-togethers) are more than just a call for public drunkenness, these gatherings of thousands of people are a great way to have fun and meet new people in a friendly atmosphere.

-Local and solidarity initiatives: the emergence of the local food movement, the comeback of market produce, the development of arts & crafts, Neighbour Days, Block parties, Massive Good project, group purchasing from organic farms, local exchange systems... all these are actions undertaken by people to contribute to improving their daily lives and those of others.

increasingly generous brands

Certain brands are developing many initiatives – notably via the Internet – to respond to the new demands of consumers, as well as to follow this trend on generosity: 

-Ikea: The Swedish giant is well known for its campaigns that surf on the G Generation wave. In Denmark, the brand offers its customers a bicycle hire service so that they can take their purchases home. In Sweden, it has installed a hotel in the heart of a shopping centre where passers by can take a nap.

-Disney offers a free pass to all those who support their community by helping a charity for a day. The initiative, dubbed ‘Give a day, get a Disney day’, has received strong support on the web.

-In Israel, Tambour, a brand of paint, offered free parking spaces for one month, painted in the brand’s colours, in partnership with the tourist town of Eilat.

-Each year, Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream brand, holds a ‘Free Cone Day’ during which it offers ice cream to passers by.

-Servus, a loan company in Canada, distributed $10 bills to its customers so they could do a good deed: buy a meal for a homeless person, pay someone’s parking ticket, make a donation to charity, etc.

-Apple and Starbucks are brands which are proposing a new type of ‘freebie’: free use of Wi-Fi, computers, and sofas for an unlimited period, with no purchase required.

-‘Buy 1, Give 1’ promotions are also increasing: office supplies, children’s clothing, food, computers... when buying one of these products, you have the opportunity to help the disadvantaged.

Often more effective than an extensive and very expensive communications campaign, these actions allow brands to enjoy an excellent reputation among their customers and to reconnect with them. Are these brands really generous or are they just looking for good PR? ...

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