Millennial Consumers Drive Corporate Sustainability

Millennials are joining the workforce at a fast rate all over the world, and its projected that by 2025, theyll make up close to 3 quarters of the entire global workforce. Now, as more millennials are getting jobs, their generations purchasing power is increasing, and they are slowly becoming the most important consumer demographic for most companies. The biggest marketing priority for most businesses is now to figure out how to sell products and services to millennials.

Marketing experts are finding out that millennials are very particular about what they consume. Having been raised in a world thats more progressive, and having lived through significant economic disruption, their world view is quite different from that of earlier generations. They have learned to demand more from companies, and to look for deeper meaning in their lives by supporting important causes, and by trying to find authenticity in their world. Millennials are sceptical in nature, and they are very opinionated. They have vast amounts of information at their fingertips thanks to the internet and smartphones, but they also understand that information from the internet can be misleading, and they wont hesitate to double-check claims from companies and brands. While they may enjoy a funny video, theyll see right through entertaining adverts that are meant to endear them to certain brands. They want to know Is your brand authentic? and Are your motives pure?

Much more than the generations before them, millennials need to trust the brands whose products they purchase. Millennials also care a lot about the environment, and they expect companies to do something about pollution, environmental degradation, and climate change. Additionally, millennials want companies to share their values and to support social causes that make an impact on people’s lives. In other words, the millennial generation is keen on ensuring that companies practice social responsibility and corporate sustainability, and they are ready to reward companies that live up to those expectations and punish companies that don’t. The vast majority of millennials are more than willing to switch to brands that are associated with certain causes, and they are even ready to pay more for products from such brands. Even talented millennial workers are willing to take smaller paychecks in order to work for companies that share their values.

So, what can companies do to keep up with the millennials?

Businesses need to step up, put in place measures to make them more sustainable, and be honest about their ecological and social impacts. Established companies should review their production processes and practices and identify ways to make them less harmful to the environment. Brands that are keen on being sustainable and impactful have a great opportunity to cultivate brand loyalty with the millennials. Companies should choose to recycle, go green, reduce their usage of fossil fuels, and utilize raw materials in a more sustainable manner. When it comes to social impact, companies can support social and environmental causes including offering aid to community projects, offering assistance to small businesses, sponsoring academic programs (e.g. by providing scholarships and grants), and giving material support to social enterprise.
Millennials understand that companies need to make profits, but they are keen on flexing their purchasing power to make sure that the profitability of companies is not at the expense of the environment or the little guy. Millennials are willing to punish companies that dont pay living wages to their workers and equal wages to both men and women or don’t offer equal employment opportunities for everyone. They are more invested in holding corporations accountable than any other generation before them, so the best bet for all businesses is to get in line. Many companies have already caught onto this trend, and they are beginning to prioritize sustainability more than ever before.

The one thing that companies need to remember is that millennials arent readily fooled. Because of their unprecedented access to information, they are always going to be able to find out about unsustainable practices, no matter how hard companies try to hide them. The internet also makes it increasingly difficult for companies to hide or disguise unfair labour practices, unchecked corporate greed, or service policies that are discriminatory. Both established companies and new brands need to comply with the expectations of the millennials in order to avoid getting left behind.