IGF 2021 – Day 1 – Lightning Talk #22 Online Trust: Insights from Gen Z

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> We all live in a digital world.  We all need it to be open and safe.  We all want to trust. 

>> And to be trusted. 

>> We all despise control. 

>> And desire freedom. 

>> We are all united.  

>> LORI SCHULMAN: Good morning.  Can you hear me in the room, Pawel? 

>> PAWEL LIPSKI: Yes, I can hear you.  Hi, Lori. 

>> LORI SCHULMAN: Great.  It's 9:01, so I'll get started with our introduction, and then I'll hand it over to you.  Thank you for being live in Katowice.  We really appreciate your effort, for those online and for those who will be hearing this recording later on, my name is Lori Schulman, and I am Senior Director Internet Policy for the International Trademark Association, also known as INTA.  INTA is a global association of brand owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property to foster consumer trust, economic growth, and innovation.  Members include nearly 6500 organizations representing more than 34,000 individuals, trademark owners, professionals and academics from 185 countries who benefit from the association's global trademark resources, policy development, education and training, and international network. 

Founded in 1878, INTA is headquartered in New York City with offices in Beijing, Brussels, Santiago, Chile, Singapore, and Washington, D.C.  We have a representative in New Delhi as well.  INTA has engaged with the IGF for the past six years, and this is their third lightning session to offer.  We welcome Pawel Lipski who will be presenting our study today.  Is he a partner at the law firm of Bird & Bird, based in Warsaw.  His main focus is e‑commerce, intellectual property, and digital transformation.  He is a member of INTA's Internet committee.  He supports clients on complex e‑commerce projects, legal compliance within their business models, on litigation and proceedings before the data protection and consumer regulators as well as with due diligence projects and development of IP management strategies.  He regularly represents companies in criminal and civil proceedings regarding the infringement of IP rights, and he advises the main players as well as start‑ups.  He's recognized by legal directories as a leading expert in intellectual property law in Poland.  I would also like to introduce our rapporteur, Charles Shaban, he is the executive director of intellectual property based in Amman, Jordan.

He is an active member of INTA's committee and a longtime contributor to the IGF and ICANN.  I'll now hand the mic over, so to speak, to Pawel so we can get on with the main topic of our session, which is "Online Trust, A View From Generation Z."   Thank you. 

>> PAWEL LIPSKI: Thank you, Lori, very much.  Can I have the presentation, please, now? 

>> LORI SCHULMAN: Pawel, I'm happy to share my screen.  Just let me know. 

>> PAWEL LIPSKI: I think we'll figure it out in a second. 


>> PAWEL LIPSKI: Okay.  Here we go.  Again, thank you, Lori.  And today I would like to present to you, walk you through the two online service ‑‑ surveys that INTA commissioned in the last couple of years, both regard how customers relate to brands, how they see brands.  And these are not ‑‑ the customers here are a very powerful group because we are talking about Generation Z, and the other study was combining insights from Generation Z and Millennials.  So before we kick off, I would like to ‑‑ sorry.  Okay.  Before we kick off, I would like us all to be on the same page.  So I would like to briefly introduce the main concept I will be discussing during this presentation.  So who are our members of our research group?  Generation Z is defined as a cohort of individuals born from the mid‑1990s to early 2010s, and they are defined as digital native speakers.  This is the first generation born into the world where the Internet is widespread.  There are now approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide.  Of course, they are not the most powerful customer group right now because most of them are under legal age, but they will be in ten years or so. 

The other group, Millennials, is a cohort of individuals born from the early 1980s to mid‑1990s and is approximately 1.8 billion people worldwide including myself.  And we are now the most powerful consumer group in the world.  So the studies tried to search the relations between those groups of people and brands, counterfeit products and brand restrictions.  So it's important to note what are the brands and how we use this term in the study. 

So brand is not a legal term.  It is a business term.  It is an identifying symbol, mark, logo, name or sentence that companies use to distinguish their products from others.  But in the study as an umbrella term for all efforts the company takes to promote itself, to promote ‑‑ to promote its products.  So if you are talking about the most powerful or the most valuable brand in the world, which is Apple, we are talking about the Apple brand as such, not particular intellectual properties that comprises these brands. 

So the intellectual property here is our trademark, which are of more narrow scope.  And while Apple has one brand, it has also multiple tens, thousands of trademarks which are protected all over the world.  Counterfeit products, counterfeit products are goods which are fake products, which imitate ‑‑ which imitate the brand owner's original products and are sold not by the brand owners.  Whereas brand restrictions, these are ‑‑ brand restrictions are all restrictions on the brand use including plain and standardized packaging, bans on the use of brands and branding elements, which are introduced all over the world.  And the easiest way to think about them is when you think about tobacco products, which are ‑‑ which have standards packaging all over the world.  So let's go to the studies, to the first study. 

Okay.  So about the methodology.  So the study was online.  It was for ‑‑ it was regarding the counterfeit products.  We surveyed 4,500 respondents in 10 countries all over the world.  And we wanted to know how they make their choices regarding what to buy and also how they see their ‑‑ how they see counterfeit products as a problem worldwide. 

We did not search all industries.  We searched only those industries who are most prone to the trademark or brand infringements.  And in our view, these eight groups of products were the most important.  Okay.  So what are the insights?  First of all, we wanted to know what are the values, the generations.  And those values, we found out, were individuality, morality, and flexibility.  And ‑‑ okay.  Thank you.  Flexibility, and these were the values that Gen Zers referred to most when they were talking about how they make choices about purchasing goods and their life choices as well. 

So 92% of them say that it is important to be always true who they are.  75% would rather stand out than fit with the others.  As regards morality, the vast majority states that they determine their own moral code.  But what is important to note is that these codes, moral codes, are guided by values they learn from their family.  76% think that ‑‑ they think about ethical issues while shopping.  And on the other hand, there is a flexibility issue because although it is important to know who they are for Gen Zers, they also know that they change, and they will change in the future.  So they know ‑‑ so we don't know where the path would lead them. 

Okay.  So how do they react to the brands?  Are brands important to them?  62% say that brands are very important or important to them, and there are differences between particular countries we looked at.  Brand names are more important for people in India and China and Indonesia, while less important to people in the U.S., Japan, Italy, and Russia.  And 81% feel that the brand name isn't as important as how the product fits their needs, which is very interesting insight if we look at the other slide.  Because most of the Gen Zers, they think that the brands -- they use brands as an extension of their individual identity.  80% say it's more important for a brand to fit their style than what the brand means to others.  While 76% think that they use popular brands in their own unique way.  So they use brands to enhance their individuality rather than to fit within social norms. 

Also interesting aspect is what Gen Zers expect from brands, because it's not only to look good, for example, but also to ‑‑ that the brands do more, the brands do more than they want.  The brands to reinforce their own morals, values, and ethics.  86% think that brands should be accessible to all, which can be understood in two different ways.  First of all, maybe the most common meaning is that the brand may be more affordable, so to say.  But also, it can mean that the brands should be inclusive and be open to all people around the world.  And 85% believe that brands should aim to do good to the world. 

Gen Zers ‑‑ apologies ‑‑ Gen Zers value intellectual creations, value intellectual property.  93% have a lot of respect for people's ideas and creations, while 74% think it's important to buy genuine products.  But when it comes to the reality, they also noticed that fake products are sold everywhere, and 53% of them sell their products on online marketplaces.  So we can say that counterfeit products are widespread. 

So what happens when we have this clash between values?  So when you have these strong morals of people who say that they should ‑‑ that they do ‑‑ that they adhere to who they are, that they have strong moral codes, and also see the widespread use of fake products.  So when faced with that question, Gen Zers answer that these are the two most important things when it comes to the decision‑making whether to purchase a fake good or not is their morals, the first thing, and the income.  But when those two clash, the income wins, which is maybe not good ‑‑ not good information from brands at this point of time.  But we also know from this study that three in five Gen Zers say they don't feel that they can afford the lifestyle they want, and that's why they buy products cheaper and the products which are fake.  So if they earn more in the future, probably, they will switch to originals. 

Also, there is an interesting factor of this study is when you look at the social acceptance of purchasing fake products and the frequency of making purchases.  So the horizontal axis shows the percent of answers when the respondents said it is socially acceptable to buy fake goods.  Whereas the vertical axis say ‑‑ tells us about frequency of purchase.  So we see in countries like Japan where there is very low acceptance.  There is also low frequency.  Whereas in countries such as Argentina, there is high frequency and high tendency for purchasing fake goods. 

And the final insight from the study is that although Gen Zers purchase goods which are fakes right now for a variety of reasons, they also aspire to purchase fewer fakes in the future, and I combined that with the question about the pricing and how they ‑‑ and their standards.  So if they go further in their lives, probably they will think about this twice before purchasing fake goods. 

So this is the first study.  And the other one is a newer study from 2021.  It's about brand restrictions.  And in this study we looked at a cohort of Gen Zers and Millennials.  And this was also conducted in ten markets during the 20‑minute survey in November and October ‑‑ in October and November 2020.  And it was done at a group of 5,000 people.  And so we wanted to know how people look at the brand restrictions imposed by ‑‑ which are obviously restrictions imposed by the government, but also we wanted to know how people rely to the basic concepts and the basic issues regarding brands.  So whether they trust brands, whether they are loyal to the brands or whether they are loyal to the brands in particular areas and range of products and what is most important for them when deciding what to purchase. 

So as regards the first question, I think overall people do trust brands.  And surprisingly enough, they trust brands more than governments which may not be very fair to the government because it's probably much easier to run a brand than to run a government in any given country in the world.  But it just shows that the trust in brands is pretty high globally.  As regards ‑‑ as regards product loyalty, it differs between products' categories.  So, for example, we have tobacco products and baby food, which are where customers are most loyal for varying reasons, probably.  For tobacco products, it's probably addiction.  And for baby food, it's probably food safety, and health care, while people are not that loyal to food and alcoholic brands. 

And what drives people's choices when making a purchase?  Obviously price.  That's the most important element.  But also, and very importantly, other places are filled with information.  So it's information about health implication, nutritional information, ingredients, information about manufacturers.  So information is very important for customers when deciding to buy the products.  And this brings us to the ‑‑ okay.  I will do it right now.  Okay. 

So knowing that, we ask customers questions, what is ‑‑ if they want to live a healthy life and if they want to make healthy choices about the products, who should decide what is healthy, whether it should be them or should it be government, or should it be brands?  So it is directly related to the restrictions.  And half of them answered that it's their choice to decide what to buy and choose how they live.  And 50% strongly agreed with these questions that it is ‑‑ with the statement that this is their choice, not the choice of the government. 

And also, we asked what would help people to decide what is healthy or not?  And the overwhelming majority said that it is education, which would be more effective.  And education in different forms.  So it will be more education in schools, which is long‑term goal, definitely.  More nutritional information on products' packaging, which could be achieved much more easily done than education at schools.  But the last thing they mentioned was applying packaging restrictions across products that are not good for their health. 

And so to summarize, the second survey shows us that what consumers want is choice, information, and education.  So choice that they can decide what to do and to what to purchase, information that they want to have more information about the implication of health when it comes to food, and also education, so they want to be more aware of what is ‑‑ what are the implications of their choices.  But brand restrictions as such are not at the top of the list.  So thank you very much.  This was the survey and, yeah. 

>> LORI SCHULMAN: Are there any questions in the room?  My understanding ‑‑ yeah, Jorge (?) has his hand raised.  It's nice to see you even on a camera, Jorge. 

>> JORGE: So that's me.  Hello. 


>> JORGE: Hello, everyone.  It's good to be here.  I hope that this doesn't mess up with the other microphone.  Yeah, thank you very much for your presentation.  Perhaps two questions.  The first one is whether you have any insights from the study or comparing to other studies of difference -- and differences with other generations?  So, for instance, with Generation Y or Generation X, that's the first point, because it's interesting to see what generation set is thinking.  But you can compare it, it sometimes is a bit difficult.  And the second question is on the second study.  I'm not sure what products are meant because, of course, there might be products where there's a gray area between choice by people and information, education, et cetera, and then there are other products, and I'm thinking about tobacco, for instance, where the public health considerations are very important.  Of course, I'm coming from government, so maybe I have a slightly different perspective also on that.  So if you could perhaps elaborate. 

>> PAWEL LIPSKI: Okay.  Sure.  As regards your first question, unfortunately we have only insights on Generation Z and Millennials, although it would be very interesting to compare those two cohorts, but that was not done during this study.  As regard to your second question, well, I mentioned briefly products that were taken into account.  Obviously, there is a big difference in all aspects between treating tobacco products and child's products.  So, really, they are not in the same basket. 

But what we wanted to achieve here is to check whether the idea of brand restrictions, which started with tobacco products, and then they are ‑‑ the governments, I think they are moving this approach to other products.  For example, products with a high quantity of sugar.  Whether this is the only goal, the only way to achieve it, and probably the food products will be the next one, the body products will be the next one.  I wouldn't ‑‑ like, I will draw the demarcation line between tobacco and other things and other products we were talking about and be very, very cautious with comparing those products. 

>> LORI SCHULMAN: Yeah.  I wanted to chime in.  And Pawel's correct.  I think what the fear is is that there's a cascading effect between something like a product that perhaps emits smoke that other people inhale and that we know and have lots of medical evidence that directly cause very serious disease, and then it kind of trickles down, trickles down, trickles down to the point where even choice, any choice, can be eliminated through the removal of the brand.  Like, the brand itself is the symbol of trust.  Knowing where something comes from, whether it's for a habit that people don't like in public like smoking or whether it's for picking up, you know, a piece of candy or perhaps a cold cream.  We mentioned cosmetics possibly down the line.  That without knowing the source, no matter what's in the product, it's important to know the source.  To say that removing source indicators somehow promotes public health or a different kind of choice, these studies don't bear that out.  And that's where we're headed with all of this.  In terms of trying to figure out the importance of brand dress and indicators on any product, whether they're health related or related in some other way.  And I would argue even in the case of tobacco, people want to know what they're smoking and where it's coming from, and there's different qualities and grades of product.  Whether you agree that product is a good or bad product should be, I believe, irrelevant.  That's my personal opinion. 

And when it comes, you know, to Internet policy and respecting intellectual property rights and how do we monitor and enforce online activities in a way where consumers are assured of the products they are purchasing.  I mean, that's the connection to me ‑‑ from my point of view with this particular study and Internet policy and the goals that we're trying to achieve at IGF.  And I will say that has led me to some questions, and it's questions that INTA will be thinking about in a much broader sense.  But for those in the room, you know, if you have opinions on this, you know, one of the results that I think is super interesting is that we found that 68% of Gen Zers trust brands more than their governments.

So if that's the case, how can brands work more effectively to ensure that Internet policy development is meeting the concerns of Gen Z?  That's one question.  The other question that also comes to mind is, you know, Gen Zers believe that brands should be accessible and moral.  And what does accessibility mean in this context?  Is it all about price?  Is it something else?  And, again, how would that affect policy decisions by the brand and perhaps even by governments in the online space? 

So if any in the room have, you know, thoughts about this or wish to contribute to further dialogue on this question, we'd be very open to hearing your thoughts.  And Jorge, I think hearing from the governments is very important.  Is that an old hand, Jorge, or a new hand? 

>> JORGE: That's a new hand. 


>> JORGE: I try to comply with the rules and have my hand on the virtual Zoom room so that we have equality for everyone in the room.  Yeah.  I think, of course, there's lots of discussion and material for discussing on this.  There could be many, many aspects from education over to how we relate to food products, how we teach our children to know what is the production chain, the distribution chain?  What are they eating?  So that's all very important. 

But ‑‑ and there are other aspects on this that we could keep on discussing and, yeah.  So, I don't know.  Perhaps it's worthwhile having sometimes a longer session on this material because it's really very rich.  Thank you. 

>> LORI SCHULMAN: Thank you, Jorge.  We have one more minute if anybody else has a question.  In the room I see a hand raised in the back, sir.  You're welcome to ask your question.  Please let us know who you are, or ma'am.  I can't see ‑‑ I see ‑‑ I apologize for that.  I didn't see who was in the back. 

>> ANNA BORKOWSKA: That works.  My name is Anna Borkowska, and I work at National Research Institute, NASK.  And I have a question about the research you presented to us.  The research was about loyalty and trust, brands, and I wonder if you asked Gen Z about factors that influence their trust and loyalty to brands, like, I don't know, adverts and celebrities, things like that.  I don't know if you asked about that in your research, but it would be interesting. 

>> PAWEL LIPSKI: Actually, we did.  It was not included in the presentation, but it is ‑‑ there is one big part of the study which is available online.  And the interesting fact is that as Lori said, people trust brands.  And if you -- there was a presentation of two products.  We developed a logo, and people tend to trust more products which display ‑‑ clearly display brands so they know where they come from.  So there is a big ‑‑ and there are varying examples in the study about this.  But the main outcome is that they trust branded products more than nonbranded products. 

>> LORI SCHULMAN: The study ‑‑ the full study can be found on INTA.org website.  I apologize, I don't have the direct link.  But it looks like we're down to our last few minutes.  Ms. Radomska, if you would like, feel free to put your email in the chat or email me directly, and I'll put the direct link to the study.  That was just a lack of preparation on my part, and I apologize.  I'll be happy to send the direct link where you can see all of the data. 

And I want to thank everybody for attending this session.  And Jorge, I think we will follow up with your suggestion that perhaps we build on this topic and propose it for next year.  And perhaps if there's any new information that comes to light, I think it would be interesting to have participants from other sectors.  The lightning session, I think, is a great start, but it's a start, to your point.  And these issues, when it comes to Internet policy, I think are critical.  Oh, thank you, Charles.  Charles Shaban has put in the direct link.  And I see we're out of time.  So I just want to say thank you and have a wonderful rest of the meeting. 

>> PAWEL LIPSKI: Thank you, Lori.  Thank you very much for coming.