Many young consumers have firsthand experience working in customer-facing essential roles, so they sympathise with how challenging it can be. This is why they’re so passionate about aligning their values with brands that respect frontline workers.
Because of the job scarcity during COVID, young people are more likely to accept employment that puts them at risk. The pandemic makes the situation more daunting for those who depend on jobs in restaurants, retail, banking, and other essential sectors. For frontline employees who found themselves out of a job during lockdown, returning to work as soon as possible was a necessity, and this meant putting themselves at greater risk to support academic pursuits, family, or themselves.
The camaraderie among young consumers—and their willingness to cut out irresponsible brands—becomes clear through publicized stories underlining the struggles of their peers.
For 19-year-old Jade Jackson, who worked in a clothing store to cover college expenses before losing her job due to COVID, the difficulties were overwhelming. Upon finding another job, she was faced with a greater possibility of COVID exposure, exacerbated by worries of putting her elderly grandmother, with whom she lived, at risk of infection. When speaking with National Geographic regarding her situation, Jackson said, “I would change my clothes in the car, then bring them inside and wash them every day ... after I took a shower to make sure I was clean, I could finally go and greet my sister and grandma.”
It’s unsurprising that young consumers are willing to stick up for their own, considering “younger workers make up 24% of employment in higher-risk industries,” according to a 2020 study by Pew Research. So, it’s absolutely fundamental for businesses—especially those in “essential” industries—to prioritize the needs of these workers in order to be embraced by growing generations of young consumers.