Mental health resonates more with younger demos

IMI's latest recovery forecast shows how appetite for purpose, in-store shopping and events are unfolding.


Different brand purposes connect better with some demographics than others, and mental health-related brand purpose continues to resonate overwhelmingly with Gen Z.

Those are among the insights from IMI’s NextWave’s Recovery Wave 2 Report, which spanned 39 countries and included feedback from 100,000 interviews, including 8,000 in Canada.

According to the data, 55% of Gen Z respondents, compared with only 18% of Boomers, agree they would make a purchase because “a brand supports mental health initiatives.”

“If you look across the board, purpose seems to resonate younger,” says Don Mayo, managing partner, global, IMI International. “But mental health initiatives [in particular are] super, super important for Gen Zs.”

Brand initiatives that support combating COVID-19, by contrast, are more likely to resonate with millennials: 47%, compared with 37% for both Gen Z and Boomers.

Globally, shoppers are availing themselves of both in-store and ecomm options, but Canadians are more likely than Brits, Americans or Australians to shop in store.

And Mayo emphasizes the importance of operating in an omnichannel world, even if some demos are way more likely to purchase from, for example, a brand’s social page (51% of Gen Z, compared with only 13% of boomers).



“I would strongly recommend a strong in-store shopper program,” Mayo says, as in-store displays remain very effective, especially with the vast majority of Canadians still doing grocery shopping in person.

In-store aisle display efficacy cuts across demos, with 61% of Gen Y, 46% of millennials, 49% of Gen X and 59% of Boomers, agreeing they would purchase because/after a display in-store.

According to the IMI research, digital displays are particularly effective for younger shoppers: 55% of Gen Z respondents, compared with only 14% of Boomers, say their purchase intent is heightened by digital displays.

“Think of where younger cohorts are,” Mayo maintains, and notes that even though digital displays are not common, they’re extremely effective in reaching Gen Z.

Ultimately, purchase comes down to trust, regardless of age or touchpoint: 74% of Gen Zs and 76% of Boomers will make a purchase because “it’s a trusted brand name.” This figure is almost equally high for millennials (68%) and Gen Xers (67%).

With mass vaccinations on the short-term horizon, IMI also once again gauged interest in attending events.

And it finds there is a continuing surge in interest in attending charity as well as community events (n = 1,000). Compared with February, there is a 58% net increase in community event intent, and a 33% net increase in charity event interest, after September’s and February’s flatlining.

There’s also a massive spike in interest when it comes to traveling outside of our borders: IMI reports a 54% net increase in this kind of travel intent, compared with 25% in February. Intent to stay in a hotel has completely reversed from negative intent (-8%) in September, to 36% April future intent. Similarly, traveling by plane went from negative territory (-24% in September) to a net increase of 41%.