Millennials on average are more risk-averse and are less likely to spend money unnecessarily than previous generations. But when millennials do decide to part with their money, key patterns are beginning to emerge. Millennials prefer to do business with corporations and brands with pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods and ethical business standards.
One of the ways this preference is manifesting is in the millennial generation’s preference for socially responsible marketing. But what is it — and does it stand a chance of improving the world?
In 2015, Nielson published its annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report. It indicated that, globally, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Millennials gave an even more impressive showing, with 73% of surveyed millennials indicating a similar preference. Additionally, 81% of millennials even expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.
Consider the typical millennial-and-younger response to “traditional” marketing techniques, such as the television commercial, the billboard and the radio ad. Younger folks almost recoil physically. Advertising takes up almost every beat of silence and unoccupied surface in this country — aren’t millennials onto something by demanding a more civil approach?
Matthew B. Crawford, in “The World Beyond Your Head,” had this to say about the proliferation of marketing in the modern world: “The ever more complete penetration of public spaces by attention-getting technologies … direct[s] us away from one another and toward a manufactured reality, the content of which is determined from afar by private parties that have a material interest in doing so.”
Millennials are the first generation to become jaded about the fact that most marketing is wholly self-interested. That might sound a bit funny, but consider the alternative: a company that splits its attention between self-interest and interest in the improvement of society.
It’s not a crazy fever dream — corporate social responsibility (CSR) is already happening all around us.