Razorfish Study Finds 82% of Consumers Make Purchase Decisions with Purpose in Mind, Yet Brands Struggle to Put Purpose into Practice

By Razorfish | Vice Media Group
Razorfish | Vice Media Group 2021 Purpose Research

Gen Z is 2x more likely than millennials to cite brands as having the power to make the world better

Research findings indicate that Gen Z is a driving force behind the call for change. Gen Z is 2x more likely than millennials, and 3x more likely than Gen X, to feel that brands—more so than media companies and institutions—are more likely to make the world a better place. This generation also prioritizes purpose when making purchasing decisions, with 76% stating the brands they buy stand for a greater mission/purpose.

Millennials and Gen X are no different, albeit by varying degrees, and the Razorfish report cautions that it’s important that brands not focus their purpose efforts exclusively on Gen Z. In fact, 62% of consumers of all ages surveyed say that when it comes to making purchase decisions, a brand’s values are important or very important to them, with 40% actively researching a brand’s values and practices. Brand purpose (41%) also outweighs other benefits, including innovation (32%) and discounts (26%), when choosing a brand.

Brands need to demonstrate their purpose in everything they do and invite consumers to join them. Acting on purpose is what builds authenticity and trust and gets today's consumers to buy in—both figuratively and literally.

Julie Arbit, Global SVP, Insights at VICE Media Group

Purpose is on the Brink of Losing its Purpose

The pandemic has changed how people think about brands, their missions and values. Consumers place a greater importance on purpose when making purchase decisions, but many brand efforts fall flat.

“Most brands have jumped on the purpose bandwagon, but few actively drive it forward,” said Nicolas Chidiac, brand strategy lead at Razorfish. “We’re at the peak of purpose washing, and it’s imperative that brands not only clearly communicate their purpose but authentically put it into practice in everything they do. Brands are beyond the ‘why’ and are struggling with the ‘how’ to follow through and tie purpose to performance.”

Purpose Holds Value(s)

The study also found that:

  • Consumers are paying attention to mission and purpose. 82% of respondents stated that the brands they buy personally (and 75% of the brands their friends buy) stand for a greater mission/purpose.
  • Consumers care both about societal benefit and personal benefit. 76% of respondents say the brands they buy make the world a better place and 67% said the brands they buy make them a better person.
  • Purpose is amplified by proximity. 40% of respondents stated that buying local food/drinks became more important to them during the pandemic, while 7 in 10 respondents agreed that it’s important/extremely important for brands to give back to their local community.

Get a complimentary copy of the research and insights now


Razorfish and VICE Media Group conducted three phases of research in the US between May and June 2021. Phase 1 consisted of 12 x 60 minute in-depth phone interviews. Phase 2 included an online survey of 900 consumers. Phase 3 consisted of further testing and analysis with a subset of 150 participants across demographics. Generations were evenly represented across respondents, with Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X+ as the categorical breakdown.

Media Contacts

Gaby May, SourceCode Communications

David LaBar, Razorfish

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