2023 Higher Impact: The power of purpose-driven brands

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Since 2021, Amazon Ads has conducted the annual Higher Impact study1 to better understand consumer values and how they impact brand preference. Over the past few years, consumers have navigated numerous challenges, including growing economic uncertainty. With rising inflation in 2022, consumer confidence has ebbed and flowed, with more consumers being increasingly mindful of their spending.

Yet, our research shows consumers, especially among younger generations, still want to support brands whose values align with their own.2 Explore what this study suggests about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), sustainability, and brand trust.

Man and Woman

Balancing shifting priorities

With rising inflation, consumers are re-evaluating their priorities.

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Chapter 1

Over the past three years, consumers have been watching their spending, with 84% of global consumers stating they are re-evaluating their needs to shop more effectively: a 9% increase from 2022. And more than ever before, consumers said they have modified their way of life to concentrate more on things that are of value.

Percentage of consumers who agree they have modified their way of life to concentrate more on things that are of value

Despite being more budget-conscious, 7 in 10 consumers—an 11% increase from 2022—said they make a point to support brands that donate money or supplies to causes that are important to them, with Italian shoppers leading the way at 84%.

Consumers who identify as women or nonbinary were also more likely to support brands that donate to causes they care about, compared to those who identify as men.



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So what issues are most top of mind?

From poverty to health care and the environment, consumers have a lot on their minds. But for the first time in our study, economic uncertainty ranked in the top three causes that are most important to them globally.

Top 5 causes that are most important to consumers, globally:

  • Health care / Health care access (32%)
  • Health and wellness (27%)
  • Economic uncertainty (23%)
  • Environmentalism (21%)
  • Poverty (20%)

Top 5 causes that are most important to U.S. consumers:

  • Mental health awareness (29%)
  • Health care / Health care access (26%)
  • Economic uncertainty (25%)
  • Human rights and social issues (21%)
  • Homelessness / Unhoused persons (20%)
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Brands that want to successfully weather this period of economic uncertainty should be moving beyond the traditional promotions and messaging strategies, and embracing value-based innovation that delivers meaningful, positive impact on consumers, the business, and the brand. Ultimately, building empathy, emotional connection, trust, and familiarity is key here.

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— Lindsay Pattison, global chief client officer, WPP

Top 3 causes by generation

What matters to consumers will vary widely by geography and age. Among the different generations surveyed, Gen Z adults are more likely to care about social causes while Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers 3 are more likely to care about health care and the economy.

Why brands should care

Because consumers are voting with their dollars, it’s important for brands to pay attention to what their customers care deeply about, especially as they are more closely monitoring their spending.

7 in 10(70%) of global consumers believe they can vote with their dollars and look to support brands that are good citizens.

8 in 10 (82%) of global consumers said it was important to support or buy from small-business owners during times of economic uncertainty, with the greatest agreement coming from older generations.

  • Boomers: 85%
  • Gen X: 83%
  • Millennials: 83%
  • Gen Z: 79%

More than 60% of sales in Amazon’s store are from independent sellers—and almost all of those are small and medium-sized businesses. The small businesses selling and thriving in Amazon’s store are at the heart of their local communities, and they include many women-owned, Black-owned, and military family–owned businesses, as well as artisans who create handcrafted goods.

As consumers take action to support brands that align with their values and support causes that matter to them, they recognize that these brands are earning their trust.

Brand trust

Earning consumer trust is essential for brands—here’s what you can do.

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Chapter 2

From functional benefits like low prices to quality and reliability of products or services to commitments on social and environmental causes, there are many ways brands can earn trust with consumers—but not all weigh the same in their minds.

Top ways a brand can earn consumer trust:

  • Good value for money (39%)
  • Low prices (26%)
  • Quality products and services (26%)
  • Products and services that are consistent and reliable (20%)

And while value for their money reigns as the top way to earn trust across all generations, social and ethical issues significantly influence some generations, with Gen Z adults ranking employee treatment (14%) higher than other generations. Boomers and Gen Z adults saw eye to eye on brands protecting the environment as an important way to earn trust (18% and 17%, respectively), more so than Gen X and Millennials.

As consumers are re-evaluating their needs more than ever, where they shop and how they spend their money is critical to them—and trust in brands’ goods and services is key. When consumers lose trust in a brand, it can be for a variety of reasons.

Men Shopping

Top ways a brand can lose consumer trust:

  • Not offering good value for money (35%)
  • Offering poor-quality products/services (35%)
  • Not offering consistent and reliable products/services (24%)
  • Providing poor or unfair customer service (24%)
  • Having a poor experience with the brand (23%)

Losing trust with consumers looks different among generations, with Gen X and Boomers ranking how not offering good value for money is their top way to lose trust (40% and 39%, respectively) while Gen Z and Millennials were more concerned with poor product quality.

Consumers expect more from brands, and earning their trust continues to evolve with their values.

Globally, nearly 8 in 10 (78%) consumers are tired of brands acting like they are exempt from environmental responsibility (7% increase YoY).

And there’s work to be done by brands to earn more trust with consumers when it comes to their messaging around the key issues of sustainability and DEI.

Just over half of respondents (58%) trust the credibility of sustainability and DEI messaging from brands.

As brands continue to earn and maintain their trust with shoppers globally, they’ll need to consider more opportunities to showcase their efforts around sustainability, DEI, and other key issues important to consumers if they plan to be the brands those shoppers have come to know and rely on—especially in the face of evolving global issues and economic uncertainty.

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If a brand consistently delivers on their product promise to maintain performance and delight customers, they will earn and maintain consumer trust every day. Clever campaigns definitely garner attention, but won’t sustain performance if brands haven't aligned their brand basics with their consumers. Great marketing, when informed with a solid brand strategy and consumer understanding, can fire on all brand cylinders.

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— Margaux Logan, SVP head of omnichannel and emerging marketplaces, Publicis


The environment remains an important focus area for global consumers—even amid other pressing priorities.

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Chapter 3

The number of global consumers who said they seek out brands that are sustainable in their business practices is up 6% compared to last year. With a growing number of (sometimes competing) priorities, consumers are trying to balance their needs, values, and budgets. Still, more than half of consumers (52%) said they’re willing to pay more for a product that has a third-party sustainability certification, and as much as 62% of adult Gen Z consumers were willing to pay the higher price tag, compared to just 41% of Boomers.

And sustainability encompasses many areas, with the top environmental issues for global consumers including:

  • Climate change / Global warming (33%)
  • Plastic waste (24%)
  • Water pollution and drinking water quality (22%)
  • Oceans and ocean pollution (19%)
  • Air pollution and air quality (19%)
  • Loss of wildlife habitats and parks (18%)

Your sustainability commitment matters

Consumers globally agree that taking care of the environment matters, but younger consumers and those in parts of Western Europe are clear on where they stand, and willing to invest more in brands that share their values.

As younger generations’ spending power increases, their values may play a large part in their spending habits, as 6 in 10 (65%) adult Gen Z and Millennials said it was important for brands that they purchase from are committed to sustainability.

To authentically engage sustainably minded shoppers, a brand’s messaging must be in terms they understand.

Consumers have heightened awareness when it comes to terms associated with sustainability. The top five most familiar sustainability terms for consumers include:

  • Climate change
  • Global warming
  • Eco-friendly
  • Biodegradable
  • Organic

However, consumers are less familiar with terms like carbon neutral (59%), net-zero carbon emissions (58%), and greenwashing (41%), which had the lowest familiarity.

Accurately and authentically educating consumers around the use of sustainability terms is important for brands, especially to continue building trust with consumers and credibility in their sustainability efforts.

It’s important that brands understand their sustainability messaging positioning and that they are not greenwashing in any way, for example, by conflating capabilities or oversimplifying sustainability efforts or requirements, and that they are being as transparent as possible.

Ways brands can help sustainably minded consumers navigate their shopping with greater ease

Brands can take many actions to showcase their more-sustainable efforts, especially when it comes to their product offerings.

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Combined with material and measurable progress, metrics can speak volumes. Consumers want more transparency into a brand’s supply chain, details of their sourcing, and methods of disposal. Communicating these endeavors via product descriptions, on packaging materials, and through a brand's own presence can help inform a prospective buyer and help leading companies stand out from their competition.

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— Kieley Taylor, global head of strategic partnerships, GroupM

Consumers are doing their own research when it comes to searching for more-sustainable options prior to buying—and they’re most likely to trust products with credible third-party certifications (35%, which is up 2% YoY) when making their decisions.

According to consumers, the most trustworthy sources when researching sustainability/sustainable options prior to purchase:

  • Third-party certifications (35%)
  • Search engines (33%)
  • Sustainability experts and advocates (29%)
woman reading

Brands should consider the value opportunity of working to qualify their products or services via credible third-party certifications to help sustainably minded consumers navigate their shopping experiences.

Programs like Climate Pledge Friendly (CPF) help make that possible by highlighting products with sustainability certifications via their CPF badge on products.

Climate Pledge friendly

In 2022, sales of U.S. Climate Pledge Friendly (CPF) products in fashion, health and beauty, grocery, and auto increased 84% year over year. CPF uses sustainability certifications to highlight products that support their commitment to help preserve the natural world, while encouraging their selling partners to prioritize more-sustainable practices.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

Greater diversity, equity, and inclusion is important to consumers, and younger generations are demanding more from brands.

man on laptop
Chapter 4

Globally, consumers continue to value DEI as 7 in 10 (73%) believe it’s important that brands they buy from take action to promote DEI. That’s up 7% from the previous year, and Gen Z adults have a higher expectation of brands around this (77%).

So how can brands meet these expectations authentically?

Consumers see value in companies incorporating DEI into their core offerings, like their products or services, as well as expecting them to go beyond their corporate walls and take action in communities.

Woman with flag

According to consumers, the most authentic ways for brands to demonstrate DEI commitments include:

Broader actions and support beyond a brand’s core offerings (52%)

Directly through a brand’s core offerings (48%)

This means that brands need to be thinking about both types of actionable opportunities (such as internal corporate actions and external community actions) for authentically committing to DEI in ways that consumers expect.

With younger generations, corporate commitments to DEI rank higher (77% for Gen Z adults, and 75% for Millennials); therefore, when brands look to the future, they may want to consider a combination of ensuring they incorporate DEI into their corporate brand DNA and through their actions in their communities. These efforts can help earn trust from consumers and future generations of shoppers.

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We are building diversity into the fabric of who we are as a brand and what we represent to our customers. We remain steadfast on our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) journey and have continued to scale our work through technology.

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— Candi Castleberry, vice president inclusive experience and technology, Amazon

Consumers expect brands to focus on specific aspects of DEI

There are many areas of DEI that consumers care about, and these are important for brands to note when engaging with consumers so they provide the best support possible on these sensitive topics.

Top DEI areas of most importance to global consumers include:

  • Gender equality (29%)
  • Racial equity (27%)
  • Income (20%)
  • Education (20%)
  • Age (20%)
  • Emotional, psychological, or mental health conditions (19%)
  • Physical disability (19%)

Top 4 DEI areas of most importance to U.S. consumers:

  • Racial equity (31%)
  • Gender equality (24%)
  • Emotional, psychological, or mental health conditions (23%)
  • Income (19%)

Some priorities weigh more importantly than others to certain generations. While gender equality is the most important area across all generations, Boomers rank age (31%) as second in priority, in contrast to both adult Gen Z and Millennials who believe racial equity is the next most important area.

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Younger generations of consumers want to see visible, sustained investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion to demonstrate it is a long-term priority. They’re expecting to see actions from companies and brands that not only reflect their communities, but elevate and lift those communities as well.

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— Evaristus Mainsah, vice president people, experience, and technology, Amazon

Brands need to meet consumers’ evolving DEI expectations—especially in certain industries.

As brands across the world work to authentically reconcile years of underrepresentation, bias, and inaccessibility, consumers have their sights set on certain industries to drive impactful change.

Amazon launched the Black Business Accelerator (BBA) to help build sustainable diversity and provide growth opportunities for Black-owned businesses. The BBA aims to drive economic equity for Black-owned businesses, providing entrepreneurs with resources to thrive as business leaders.

Nearly half of the consumers across the seven countries surveyed think it is important that the companies/brands they purchase from are committed to DEI, in industries such as grocery (49%), fashion (49%), travel and hospitality (48%), entertainment (48%), and consumer products (48%).

When brands show their commitment to DEI by not only incorporating it into their company DNA but by the actions they take in their communities, consumers will take notice.

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Real change is going to take time, but as long as we remain committed to embracing authenticity in everything we do, we’ll continue to move in the right direction and create an industry that is inclusive, welcoming, and empowering for all.

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— Zach Harris, vice president of commercial marketing, PepsiCo Beverages North America



As brands look to make deeper, authentic connections with consumers, they need to consider a myriad of elements affecting shoppers today. From consumer values to the global economy, these factors weigh significantly in the minds, and wallets, of shoppers. While economic uncertainty has made them re-evaluate their spending and what they are willing to pay for, consumer values still significantly factor in their decision-making of which brands they buy from, which they trust, and what they expect of brands on these important topics. Now is the time for brands to clearly demonstrate their commitments through authentic actions, both internal and external, of how they are aligned with consumers’ values.

About the research

By engaging and connecting on shared values, brands can earn the trust and loyalty that drive long-term relationships. That’s why we’ve commissioned this research for a third year in a row, as consumer sentiments are evolving quickly. To better understand consumer needs and motivations, Amazon Ads commissioned an online survey from Environics Research to 7,213 consumers across seven key countries.

  • Canada (1,003 consumers)
  • France (1,019 consumers)
  • Germany (1,008 consumers)
  • Italy (1,011 consumers)
  • Spain (1,042 consumers)
  • United Kingdom (1,003 consumers)
  • United States (1,127 consumers)
Percentage of consumers who agree with the following statementsGlobalCanadaFranceGermanyItalySpainUKUS
More brands should do their part in helping the world, especially during difficult times like these.88%88%87%84%92%90%87%84%
It’s important to me that brands take action in times of humanitarian crises and natural disasters.82%81%85%79%87%89%77%79%
I am more likely to purchase products or services from brands whose values align with my own.81%80%82%74%86%85%77%79%
I absolutely love it when a brand can make me feel inspired in some way.79%77%77%74%81%86%77%81%
I make a point to support brands that donate money or supplies to causes that are important to me.71%68%68%66%84%79%62%70%
I believe I can vote with my dollars and look to support brands that are good citizens.70%73%68%65%70%70%65%75%
I am more likely to purchase an item from a brand that is willing to take a stand on social issues and conflicts.69%66%70%67%77%72%65%65%
I am prepared to pay more for brands, products, and services that are truly authentic.68%63%65%64%78%67%67%71%
I’m tired of brands acting like they are exempt from environmental responsibility.78%77%79%75%84%79%77%75%
I avoid using the services or products of companies which I consider to have a poor environmental record.67%67%69%66%71%74%65%62%
I actively seek out brands that are sustainable in their business practices.66%63%72%65%74%69%57%63%
I am prepared to pay more for an environmentally friendly product.61%59%65%55%70%62%55%60%
I will not compromise on the products or services I purchase because it is important for me to support brands that align with my values no matter how much they cost or the state of the current economy.61%53%62%57%70%67%55%59%
Everyone should have their own lifestyle, religious beliefs, and sexual preferences, even if it makes them different from everyone else.87%90%84%84%90%89%89%86%
If you want to learn and grow in life, it is essential to meet and converse with different kinds of people, who come from all kinds of backgrounds.85%87%83%81%88%84%87%85%
I learn a great deal from meeting people who are different from me.84%88%80%77%86%86%85%85%
It’s important to me that brands I buy from take action to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.73%70%77%63%84%78%70%69%
I want to see more diversity in advertising (i.e., people of all genders, races, and sexual identities).68%66%69%55%72%75%69%70%
I trust the credibility of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) messaging from brands.58%56%58%51%65%65%54%57%
I want to be the one who decides when and where I interact with a brand.90%90%86%87%93%92%90%90%
Whatever the type of product, whenever I buy something, price is always very important.84%89%82%78%82%86%88%85%
I am increasingly re-evaluating my needs in order to shop more effectively.84%83%86%78%90%88%79%81%
I try to gather a lot of information about products before I make an important purchase.80%83%78%79%85%76%82%81%
I have recently modified my way of life to concentrate more on things that are really important to me.77%79%74%77%77%77%75%78%
Most small businesses do their best to provide high-quality goods and services to their customers.83%87%81%83%77%79%86%86%
It’s important for me to support / buy from small-business owners, especially during times of economic uncertainty.82%81%85%80%83%86%78%83%
Small businesses generally try to strike a fair balance between profits and the public interest.74%75%77%71%71%68%76%77%

1 Amazon Ads with Environics Research, 2023 Higher Impact report, CA, DE, ES, FR, IT, UK, and US.
2 YoY comparisons reflect regional respondent sample changes with Japan included in 2022 data analysis, but not in 2021 nor 2023. Italy and Spain are new to 2023 research, and were not included in 2021 nor 2022 research.
3 This study categorizes generational demographics based on birth year: Adult Gen Z (1995-2005), Millennials (1980-1994), Gen X (1965-1979), and Boomers (1945-1964).