According to research from the Future Foundation, UK consumers are happy to tell researchers they are angry about everything, but in reality there is no real evidence of growing consumer radicalism.
Speaking at the Future Foundation's Spring conference in London today (14 May) Christophe Jouan, CEO of the trends consultancy, said that, while there is a consensus that consumers are angry and radicalised, in reality younger consumers are increasingly de-radicalised.
"There is a lot of armchair activism but in many ways there is a myth of protest. The anger around individual issues has no real sign of real radicalism. Generation Y are the least likely to engage in anything beyond pop radicalism," he explained.
In many instances, older baby boomers show more signs of anger and radicalism than increasingly risk averse 16- to 24-year-olds, who are in fact less radical than previous generations. Their focus on local and often niche interest issues compounds this shift.
The branded response to the perceived increase in consumer radicalism has included a range of cosmetic marketing campaigns. This includes Starbucks, the coffee giant which came under fire for tax avoidance, launching a suspended coffee scheme. A trend whereby consumers can buy an extra coffee for someone less fortunate than them.
However, the Future Foundation's Jouan argues that brands will need to move beyond seeing CSR as a hygiene factor to build credibility.
He points to the example of Sainsbury's sponsorship of the London Paralympic Games as evidence of a new role for CSR encompassing HR and employee engagement as well as marketing.