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Earth Day always brings about a new series of calls for businesses to do more to address climate change and protect the environment. And increasingly, corporations are facing pressure from leading investors to do so as well. In fact, funds controlling trillions of dollars have made clear that their investment decisions are swayed by just how well companies perform on environmental issues.
Now, brand new data shows what is perhaps an even bigger reason to make climate action a centerpiece of corporate operations. The most valuable market in the world demands it—namely, families with young children.
Every year my company surveys tens of thousands of people to measure how world events are changing their core values as humans and their emotional drivers as consumers. For products and media properties looking to meet people where they are, these Passion Points provide a quantitatively defined roadmap for relevance in a rapidly changing world.
Our data from the first quarter of 2021 is now in, and the passion that consumers have for the environment is clear.
Parents’ climate concerns surge nearly 400%
Among U.S. parents raising children today, concern about global warming and climate change has accelerated by nearly 400% since 2018. With their sense of security robbed by Covid, and feelings of vulnerability at an all-time high, parents are seeing climate change as an urgent threat that needs greater attention.
In comparison to other emotional priorities like their kids’ success in school or their ability to make ends meet, climate change is surging upwards as an emotional priority at far greater speed — nearly 4 times faster than any of the other 79 Passion Points we track.
Compounding this trend is parents’ growing hunger for personal agency that was also taken from them by Covid. Gone are the days when parents trusted the world around them to make the right choices and do the right thing. It is only through personal advocacy that the causes they care most about will be addressed, and climate change is one of them. They’re taking, and demanding, action.
Children’s passion for environmental stewardship shoots up
Among kids age 12 and younger, climate change has jumped by an even bigger amount — a whopping 448%. Frustrated with what they see as the failure of adults to make their world safe, children as young as six are prioritizing the climate as central to their futures. For them, concerns about doing well in school and finding time to relax have decreased.
So in a world where over half of parental purchases involve collaboration with the child, brands that have taken a stand on climate change will have a much easier time winning with the massive family market than those that have not.
Teens prioritizing other social causes
Teenagers often get the most attention when it comes to climate concerns, and for good reason. A great many are speaking out, as symbolized by activist Greta Thunberg. A recent global survey also found that teens are the most convinced the world faces a climate emergency.
But when asked to prioritize climate change and other social causes, most teens had other emotional priorities. Chief among these is mental health, which most teens have firsthand experience with. Bullying, violence towards women, gender equality, diversity and inclusion were also more emotionally relevant to teens today.
This speaks to the moment that America and much of the world are in, with a new focus on racial justice and inequality. As teens develop their sense of identity and forge friendships with people of backgrounds different from their own, they’re acutely aware of the challenges faced by minorities and women. Teens want to see real substantive action on those fronts, so they’re putting an even higher emotional priority on such issues at the moment.
What this means for brands and shareholders
Relevance lies in the intersection of what consumers value and what brands or media properties deliver. Climate change is now smack in the middle of that intersection.
Companies should take note: Those looking to appeal to parents and kids must put climate pledges and actions front and center. Message around them. Build them into content and product strategies. Show these consumers your genuine commitment.
Brands focused on teens will certainly find climate pledges helpful, but must be sure to put focus on other issues as well — particularly what they’re doing to enhance inclusion and tackle inequality.
Shareholders can and should hold these brands accountable. Keep an eye on corporate actions and messaging around these issues. Ask executives about them, and be sure to get answers. To build stronger businesses and greater returns, businesses must always understand, and speak to, what consumers are most passionate about.
George Carey is founder and CEO of The Family Room LLC.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
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