Staff Reporters
Aug 12, 2021

APAC Gen Zs feel more empowered to change brands for good

McCann study also shows Malaysian and Indonesian Gen Zs are more often looking for the next cool thing, Korean Gen Zs feel the least pressured to be constantly busy, and Chinese youth would pay most for a brand that supports shared issues and values.

APAC Gen Zs feel more empowered to change brands for good

Coinciding with the UN’s International Youth Day, McCann Worldgroup today released the Asia-Pacific findings from its global 'Truth About Generation Z' study revealing that this generation, unlike earlier ones, feel they have the power (and tools) to actually make an impact. Today's Gen Zs in the region feel they can generate the changes in culture they seek, while valuing the brands that are more creative and empathetic.

Globally, 74% of Gen Zs believe their generation has the power to influence a brands’ actions for the better, and sentiment in Asia-Pacific exceeds this at 89% (with Singapore and Indonesia topping the list at 91% and 95% respectively). 

Singapore and Indonesia were also two markets where Gen Zs felt social media was giving a voice to those that didn't have one before.  
While Gen Z is the first young generation to experience a multi-dimensional crisis in a century, the study says, those in Asia-Pacific appear to still have a level of confidence and engagement that outstrips other regions.
Among McCann's findings: 
  • The number one adjective Gen Z use to describe a successful brand today is 'creativity', as opposed to 'trustworthy' amongst the general population. As technology natives their exploration for creativity is exponential and expansive. 
  • 69% of Gen Zs from APAC say they are always 'looking for the next cool thing' versus 60% globally. Thailand ranks the highest globally at 84%. Gen Zs expect brands to help enable and fuel their creativity, as they feel their way and try things, mixing genres, styles, and local references. 
  • Causes are important: Half of Gen Zs globally believe the primary benefit of social media is that it gives people a voice who didn't have one before. In the most recent data, most Asian markets index significantly above this, for example Singapore at 74%. 
  • 77% of APAC’s Gen Zs agree that they have a responsibility to make a positive contribution to the community they live in (Gen Zs in Indonesia rank the highest at 98%). 
  • And with a split in attitudes around 'cancel culture' globally, Gen Zs in APAC believe they can influence brands more than the global average. While 69% of Gen Zs globally agreed to the statement “I’d be prepared to pay more for a product if I knew the brand supported an issue I care about”, Asian markets significantly exceed this figure, with Korea, Indonesia and China ranking the highest (80%/84%/87%).
  • 66% of Gen Zs globally acknowledge loneliness—the most of any generation with 76% of Gen Zs globally believing that emotional connections today are weaker than they were in the past (this rose to 89% in the Philippines, the highest out of all APAC markets surveyed). 
  • 82% of Hong Kong’s Gen Zs say they feel pressured to be constantly busy—the highest number globally. 
  • There is a role for brands to play in helping Asian Gen Zs during challenging times. “I want a brand that reassures me (versus one that challenges me)” increased from 62% globally in 2018 to 74% in 2020, with almost all Asian markets significantly exceeding the average (the highest rank in APAC is Malaysia, coming in at 81% in 2021). 

Richard McCabe, chief strategy officer, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, said: “More than other generations, Gen Z say that they are willing to vote with their money and reward companies that care about the same things they care about. In this way, Gen Z see brands as powerful allies for change. While sharing some similarities with other regions, we see that Gen Z in Asia diverges significantly, having experienced a unique blend of relative prosperity, and rising pride in national and regional culture. This dynamic, coupled with the evolution of platforms that facilitate a voice for Asia’s culture makers has given rise to the expectation for creative and meaningful solutions from brands.” 

The original global report released in March 2021, builds on Truth Central’s Youth series dating back to 2011. The global quantitative research included an Asia Pacific deep-dive of 5,000 18-24 year old’s surveyed in China, Japan, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand, Korea, and Australia along with qualitative interviews (completed in July 2021).


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