Engaging Gen Z through leveraging co-operative values


29th September 2021
How can Co-operatives UK engage Gen Z through leveraging their co-op values

Masters student in Creative Advertising Strategy at Manchester Metropolitan University, Rachael Radford undertook a research project to determine how co-operatives can engage more young people, by leveraging the strong co-operative values.

Key findings: 

  • Gen Z have strong ethics and values. 
  • Gen Z want companies to be ethical and in particular, care for the environment. 
  • Gen Z have little awareness of co-operatives but once they are made aware of them, they feel that co-operatives are authentic and ethical, and they would choose to support them.
  • Despite these strong personal ethical values, many young people would be put off working for a worker co-operative because of the flat pay structure and lack of hierarchy that some adopt, as this would be seen as an inability to progress in their careers and the hygiene factor of a high salary is the main motivation for going to work.
  • The additional responsibility of being involved in decision making from a young age and at the start of their career may also be a perceived barrier to working within or joining a co-op.

This research recommends

  • Co-operatives UK should publicise how co-operatives are participating in activist causes, showing the benefits they are bringing to their communities.
  • Co-operatives UK should focus on making sure they are supporting environmentally friendly causes and publicising the work they are doing to combat climate change. 
  • The research found that Gen Z find honesty, transparency (openness), caring for others, and equality extremely important values. Thus, Co-operative UK should focus their marketing and advertising efforts on highlighting these values.
  • Co-operatives UK should look into teaching young people about ownership and governance as concepts, not just about the co-operative business model.
  • Co-operatives need to ensure young people that are involved with co-ops are listened to, to encourage participation.
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