Social Responsibility Is Important to Millennial Consumers

October 25, 2016

12:45 pm

There are 75.4 million Millennials in America. They’re now the largest generation in this country, and they’re destined to make up a formidable force of consumers. Businesses obviously cannot ignore them anymore. The oldest Millennial was born in 1981 and the youngest in 1997 – they have years of purchasing power behind them.

As far as good business is concerned, it’s time to get to know these people, especially if owners, executives and board members are not from this generation.

Questions Businesses Need to Ask About Millennials

If you aren’t part of this generation, you are likely confused by their patterns. Between social media experience, money-saving purchasing patterns, and constantly being tapped into the information highway, it can be difficult to figure them out. Make sure to ask these questions before making any decisions regarding Millennials.

  • What social media channels are their favorites?
  • How do they make purchasing decisions?
  • What do they value in the workplace?
  • How do they get their information?
  • What appears to be most important to them?
  • What do they see as social issues?

The Answers

Most research studies answer these questions similarly. Millennials distrust regular media channels and get most of their information online. They use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat more than anything else. Millennials have large social media communities, and they look to those communities for recommendations on product and service purchases.

Millennials typically seek employment with companies that allow flexibility of hours and work environment, that offer wide ranges of benefits, exhibit diversity, place importance on personal lives, and exhibit social responsibility. This generation cares about the environment, about poverty, and about income inequality. Their affiliation with organized religion is declining, and social responsibility has almost become a new religion.

Implications for Businesses

Millennials will boycott companies that do not exhibit social responsibility. They use their ever-equipped smartphones to discuss such activity with their peers. The pressure is on and many businesses are responding – here are a few of them that are making an impact:

Toms Shoes

This company was the business that set the bar for corporate responsibility. Founder Blake Mycoskie began this company in his apartment after having traveled to South America and discovering that children without shoes were not allowed to attend school. His one-for-one model has been copied by many other businesses. For every pair purchased, one pair of shoes is donated to a needy child somewhere in the world.

Since 2006, the product line has expanded, and the social campaigns have graduated to eye surgery for adults in underdeveloped countries, clean water, and prenatal care.

Headbands of Hope

Sometimes a company is founded based upon a single social cause. After a college internship with The Make a Wish Foundation, Jennifer Ekstrom determined to found a business that would support children with cancer.

Her company, founded in 2012, copies the one-for-one model, by donating a head band to a little girl with cancer for every headband purchased. She adds one more facet – for every item purchased, $1 is also donated to children’s cancer research.

Good Deed Seats

Most concert and sports events attendees purchase their tickets online. It’s easy and convenient. This company provides a $5 donation to a charitable cause for every ticket purchased. There are three charities from which a customer may choose.

Socially Responsible Investing

Older millennials are getting into investing, but they have great reservations. First, they do not trust the stock market, given the crash of 2008. They do not trust investment firms that invest in corporations that are environmentally irresponsible. This has caused the growth of socially responsible investment (SRI) funds, and they are rapidly becoming places for millennials to park their retirement funds. From a total of 55 international SRI funds in 1995, the number reached 926 by the end of 2014.

Millennials will soon be in charge. They have big goals, and they have big thoughts about what the world should look like. Businesses that embrace their goals and values will have loyal and do so in an authentic way, will have loyal customers.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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