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Gen Zs are generally associated with cancel culture but not all of them are unforgiving. According to a survey conducted by DeVries Global during the fourth quarter of 2021, 84% of the 1,395 respondents are willing to forgive and support a brand again after a mistake if the brand takes action and accountability.
Close to half of them (42%) will forgive if the brand takes real action to correct the mistake.
Consumers in the Philippines (57%) and Indonesia (51%) are highly likely to forgive if the brand takes real action to correct the mistake, followed by those in Singapore (34%) and Thailand (26%).
However, the survey also found that 25% of consumers in Thailand, unfortunately, do not give second chances.
In general, 20% of consumers in those four Southeast Asian countries will forgive with a timely and sincere apology while 21% said they will forgive and forget over time. More specifically, 23% of consumers in Thailand and 20% in Indonesia feel this way. Only 18% in Singapore and the Philippines will forgive with a timely and sincere apology.
Additionally, 21% of consumers said they will forgive and forget over time, with this sentiment being felt among 23% of consumers in Thailand, 20% in Indonesia, as well as 18% in Singapore and the Philippines respectively.
Gen Zs see brands as an extension of themselves
Gen Zs in Southeast Asia crave connections and communities and do not want purchase decisions to be transactional or functional. In fact, 58% of respondents see brands as an extension of themselves, and one in two will make the effort to research a brand's values before making a purchase. This is especially so in Indonesia and the Philippines, where four in five Gen Zs in these markets even agree that they are likely to follow a brand on social media if their values are aligned.
Also, 79% in Indonesia and 73% in the Philippines will go out of their way to find out what a brand’s values are before they make a purchase. In Singapore and Thailand, however, the views differ among the respondents, with an even spread of those who will and those who won't.
The majority of those in Indonesia (88%) and the Philippines (85%) are likely to follow a brand on social media if they have similar personal values. The Gen Zs in Singapore agree with this sentiment to a smaller extent (51%). However, here comes the tricky part. It only takes one wrong move for Gen Zs to hit unfollow. DeVries' study revealed that every Gen Z respondent from Thailand has unfollowed a brand over a post that does not resonate with their personal values.
Meanwhile, only 60% of Gen Z in Indonesia, 58% in the Philippines, and 51% have unfollowed brands over a post that does not relate to their personal values.
For a brand to truly live up to Gen Z expectations on brand purpose and responsibility, it’s all about action and accountability – and it’s not enough to just make charitable donations. Instead, this generation in Southeast Asia demands for brands to not only use their voice for good but also take concrete action in their business practices.
What are the values that matter to Gen Zs?
As a generation that craves communication, Gen Zs highly value authenticity and integrity (44%), responsibility (40%), and sustainability (36%). In Singapore and Indonesia, authenticity and integrity whereas in the Philippines, responsibility is ranked the first with equality coming in a close second. Interestingly, in Indonesia, equality and empowerment are ranked low when it comes to the importance of brand values.
In Thailand, the views differ among the respondents, with quite an equal balance across all values, though equality and empowerment have a slight edge.
For a generation that expects authenticity and integrity, Gen Zs in Southeast Asia also expect brands to take a stance (54%) and will stop supporting brands that remain silent (37%).
Nearly half of Gen Z in Indonesia and the Philippines strongly agree that brands must have a voice in current social issues. However, several Gen Zs in Singapore appear apathetic, with only 13% strongly agreeing that brands need to have a voice. At the same time, only one out of four Gen Zs in Singapore are neutral, while 41% in Thailand disagree with this stance.
That said, 51% said brands can stay silent on social issues if they are not directly related to the brand's industry or business practice. Over 34% of Gen Zs in Indonesia and the Philippines strongly agree with this view.
For brands looking to target those in Indonesia and the Philippines, they are advised to invest in social content that engages consumers with their social responsibility initiatives.
In fact, 85% of Gen Zs in Indonesia and the Philippines said they are more likely to follow a brand that shares regular content about their social responsibility initiatives on their platforms.
While Gen Zs in Singapore and Thailand agree with this, only 50% and 42% respectively share the same sentiment.
Li Ting Ng, director of innovation and client experience, DeVries Global Singapore, said on a global scale, Southeast Asia can be seen as a small region and is often treated by brands as a single entity. However, Southeast Asia is perhaps the most richly diverse region in Asia Pacific and it is critical for brands to recognise and understand that there is no one fail-safe formula that applies when communicating and engaging with Gen Z in the region.
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