Incivility can cost brands Millennial buyers

Millennials are the most hopeful about civility improving in politics and society, according to a study. They are also more likely than other generations to take action when confronted with any kind of incivility.

Photo via Weber Shandwick

NEW YORK: While all generations agree that civility in politics and other aspects of society is in a gloomy state, Millennials are the most hopeful about this improving, according to a study by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate with KRC Research.

In the fifth edition of the Civility in America study, which surveyed 1,000 American adults online in July, the firms examined how different generations view common courtesy in the US. Millennials were two to four times more hopeful that civility in society will soon improve.

Twenty-three percent of Millennials believe civility will get better in the next few years, compared with 11% of Gen Xers, 9% of Boomers, and 6% of the Silent Generation. Millennials are also more likely than other generations to take action when confronted with any kind of incivility, according to the study.

Based on this data, "it’s really important for companies to beware of their civil tones," said Liz Rizzo, SVP of reputation research at Weber. The study shows that consumers will shop buying from or recommending a brand if they think it is uncivil either on or offline, she added.

Weber chief reputation strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross said the results offer a "glimmer of hope that maybe Millennials will find some solutions in making civility more of an American way of life."

When it comes to technology, the majority of Millennials (56%) and Generation X (55%) say the Internet and social media are worsening civility, while 70% of Boomers and 77% of the Silent Generation believe politicians are making it worse.

Overall, 70% of survey participants agree that the Internet lends a hand in increasing uncivil behavior. Millennials in particular find online platforms uncivil, with 65% saying Facebook is uncivil, followed by 63% for YouTube, 59% for Twitter, and 56% for blogs.

While Millennials are slightly more optimistic about civility overall, 48% say that incivility is an expected part of politics. Thirty-six percent of both Generation X and Baby Boomer participants believe incivility is part of the political process, and 24% of the Silent Generation.

Gaines-Ross said Weber will continue conducting the civility study because it reaches many different demographics and areas of communications.

"Whether it’s cyber-bullying, video games, sports, or politics, people want to live in a more civil world with more civil communications," she said.

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