SINGAPORE — New research from DeVries Global shows most Southeast Asian Gen Zers expect action and accountability from brands in the same vein as their western counterparts.
However, the survey also finds that Gen Zers' opinions on brand purpose vary by country, meaning companies run the risk of alienating consumers across the region by lumping them together.
Gen Zers in Indonesia and the Philippines tend to be more cohesive in their views, whereas those in Thailand, and to a lesser extent Singapore, often have a wide spectrum of opinions, the study found. The report, Decoding the Z Mind, was based on a survey of 1,395 respondents aged 16-25 in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
For instance, 54% of total respondents believe brands must take a stance on current social issues, and 37% said they would stop supporting brands that remain silent (although 51% are OK with brands staying silent on issues unrelated to their businesses).
But that number varies per market. While more than 70% of Gen Z in Indonesia and the Philippines agree that brands must have a voice on such issues, views in Singapore and Thailand are more balanced, with 37% in Singapore and 41% in Thailand disagreeing.
The survey found purchasing decisions of Gen Zers in Southeast Asia are not just transactional or functional. 58% of respondents see brands as an extension of themselves, and one in two will make the effort to research a brand’s values before making a purchase. This is especially so in Indonesia and the Philippines, where four in five Gen Zers are likely to follow a brand on social media if their values are aligned.

In Indonesia and the Philippines, 85% of Gen Z is more likely to follow a brand that shares regular content about their social responsibility initiatives on their social platforms. Gen Zers in Singapore and Thailand agree to a smaller extent — with 50% agreeing in Singapore and 42% in Thailand.


Which doesn’t mean they’e in it for the long haul. Every survey respondent from Thailand, for instance, reported unfollowing a brand over a post that does not resonate with their personal values.

Yet, at the same time, Gen Zers can be forgiving, with 84% of respondents willing to forgive and support a brand again after a mistake if the brand acts and is accountable. 42% will forgive if the brand takes real action to correct the mistake and 20% will forgive with a timely and sincere apology.

Business transparency, response to social issues and environmentally sustainable practices are the top three factors Gen Zers weigh when deciding whether to support a brand.
“On a global scale, Southeast Asia can be seen as a small region and is often treated by brands as a single entity. However, SEA is perhaps the most richly diverse region in Asia Pacific and it is critical for brands to recognize and understand that there’s no one fail-safe formula that applies when communicating and engaging with Gen Z here” says Li Ting Ng, director of innovation & client experience, DeVries Global Singapore. “This is why we started the Gen Z Incubator — to help brands and marketers understand and effectively play to these cultural fragments and nuances specific to our region.”