New Research on Millennial Habits and Corporate Social Responsibility

Millennials – they seem to be all the marketing world is buzzing about these days.

And for good reason. According to Dan Schawbel’s January 2015 Forbes article, “10 New Findings About The Millennial Consumer,” there are 80 million Millennials with $200 billion in annual purchasing power in the U.S. alone. No wonder companies are clamoring to find ways to engage them.

With this fresh in my mind, I was excited to see the latest research released last week from Cone Communications – looking at Millennials and corporate social responsibility (CSR). It turns out – perhaps not surprisingly – that Millennials are extremely supportive of CSR and companies that are committed to giving back. However, given that Millennials range in age from 18-34, it’s also not surprising that there are some noteworthy distinctions within the overall group.

Some of Cone’s interesting findings:

  • More than 9 out of 10 Millennials in the U.S. would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average).
  • Female Millennials are among the most likely to seek out responsible products whenever possible (86% vs. 76% Millennial males).
  • Millennial moms are most likely to consider CSR in everyday decisions such as what they buy and where they shop (87% vs. 80% U.S. average) and which products and services they recommend to others (88% vs. 78% U.S. average).
  • Young Millennials (ages 18-24) are especially likely to consider a company’s CSR efforts when considering where to work (82% vs. 75% of their mature Millennial counterparts).
  • Two-thirds of Millennials in the U.S. use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).
  • Millennials want to be entertained and engaged with CSR content – prioritizing videos (36% vs. 29% U.S. average), infographics (26% vs. 16% U.S. average) and games (15% vs. 8% U.S. average) when learning about company CSR commitments.

The takeaways? The 80 million U.S. Millennials are a diverse group with diverse preferences. The common thread that is particularly exciting is how they embrace CSR across the board. They are a generation that is committed to making the world a better place, and that is encouraging simply from a humanitarian perspective.

But, while CSR is a great way for companies to reach and engage with Millennials overall, there is not one magic way to reach all of them. Companies need to think about exactly whom within the larger Millennial audience they really want to target – and tailor their CSR programs, as well as their related communications accordingly.

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