As a product of the fabulous, egocentric 80’s, it’s refreshing to speak with my Millennial and Gen Z friends about the world and their hope to make it a better place. They claim to only buy from companies trying to better the world, and I believe them. A Berkeley study recently revealed that “more than 9 out of 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.” I’m not surprised.
Understanding the need for Millennials to make a difference can help you attract them to your service or product. Creating an impact in the world also makes an impact on Millennials, and helps them decide whose products to buy.
We are talking about “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR). This refers to the way companies act to benefit their community, society at large and the rest of the world. In 2010, the International Organization for Standardization released ISO 26000 which were guidelines to help companies self-regulate their social accountability.
Social responsibility is not out of reach, even for a small company, and it’s what Millennials expect their brands to be. Obviously, not every company is prepared to match Melinda and Bill Gates’ 50 billion in donations; but any effort your company makes helps create goodwill and loyalty to Millennials. Afterall, many small contributions equal great change. Anything can happen!
Interested in acquiring some new Millennial customers? Here are our top 10 suggestions...
Examples of Social Responsibility
- Support employees who volunteer - If your employees would like to volunteer, help make it happen. Maybe take a page from Gap’s playbook: they offers matching grants, volunteer grants, and board service grants to nonprofits where employees are volunteers.
- Give monetary donations - Seek out your local non-profits. Use sites like VolunteerMatch.org to help you locate meaningful non-profit causes in your area that you can partner with.
- Allow nonprofits access - You can help nonprofits just by allowing them access to your resources, like meeting rooms or equipment. Any resources they do not have to buy helps them to save money.
- Use locally sourced materials - Buying local means less transportation and less stress on the environment. It also sustains the local economy. For food products, shorter delivery times from farm-to-table mean fresher ingredients.
- Implement changes to sustain resources at work - Upgrade to energy or resource saving equipment. California restaurants, in response to the drought, made a change from water-heavy dishwashing techniques to using compressed air to pre-clean plates.
- Reduce carbon footprint - Do no harm to your environment! Kim and Demetri Coupounas founded Go Lite, an outdoor equipment company specializing in ultra-light packs, sleeping bags and down jackets. The company’s ambitious goal: to mitigate 100% of its environmental footprint. Wow.
- Create Awareness - Awareness and education through conversation are great ways to give back. Campbell’s soup introduced UnCanned by Campbell’s. These short, conversational videos on timely nutrition subjects (GMOs, MSG, BPA lining) get the nutrition conversation rolling, which is the first step to making positive lifestyle changes.
- Support Diversity and Equality - IBM is a notable example of diversity and equality. IBM established an equal pay policy for men and women in the 1930’s, and an equal opportunity policy 11 years before the Civil Rights Act became law. IBM employs a Chief Diversity Officer to make sure that all is running smoothly...and equally.
- Practice sustainability - It’s important avoid the depletion of our natural resources, even if it costs a little more. 73% of Millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand.
- Inclusive hiring practices - Employ those that may have challenges getting quality jobs like veterans or those with special needs.
Basically, find something that speaks to you. Share why you chose the cause. Tell a story. Why did it personally matter to you? Why did your company decide to help? Millennials, more than other generations, are more likely to research the issues a company supports and the extent to which the company contributes. Remember, no generation is better at sniffing out a fake. Find a cause you sincerely support. Don’t just be in it to get sales or they will see it as a ploy and drop you like last year’s hairstyle.
Corporate social responsibility may even dovetail with the company’s main business. For example, a software company could support a great cause like Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization which aims to increase the number of women in computer science and provide what they need to thrive in the computing field. Dick’s Sporting Goods offers cash donations and sponsorships to sports teams and leagues and other outdoor recreation.
The point is, everything you do while pursuing profit can at some level serve the betterment of society. Giving back should be ingrained in the company culture.
If you are doing something good for the world, Millennials want to find you. Communicate the story of the good you are doing -- why you chose it, how you support it, and the change it made for someone else. Don’t be afraid to say it made you feel good to do good. If marketing is about telling a story, make your company the star in the feel good story of the year.
Need more information about how to market to Millennials, or how to keep your brand vital to your customers? Call SurveyMe! Our CX Team is here to help you find out what matters most to your customers.