Socially Responsible Marketing for the New Generation
The new generation of consumers is diverse, fearless, independent, and strong-willed. Currently there are 80 million millennials in the U.S. and with an annual buying power of $200 billion, they are the most lucrative market. This generation is passionate and want to live in a world that is everything it is capable of being. In an age of increasing open-mindedness, the freedom to express oneself through a variety of platforms is extremely important. Millennials thoughtfully choose to paint a picture of themselves through the fashion, art, food, music, causes, beliefs, jobs, and groups they identify with.
Good marketing looks ahead to both recognize and predict what is emerging in consumer trends. After all, the next generation of consumers is our future! So how can brands and marketing firms capitalize on what we know about the up-and-coming generation?
Millennials are increasingly choosing brands that reinforce their lifestyles and the image that they want to project about themselves to the world. The brands that millennials choose are sometimes just as important to their self-image as the places they choose to volunteer or the people they choose to be friends with. For millennials, companies that are socially responsible and have causes that they confidently support have become both respectable and trendy.
So, go ahead, hop on that socially responsible bandwagon. Here are some ways you can do it:
Be genuine. This is important if you wish to make your brand more socially responsible. Make sure you are not just choosing to stand behind a cause as a way to make money, but because you actually care; otherwise, your consumers will know and your brand will come across as disingenuous. When deciding what kind of cause to stand behind, choose carefully and consider what makes sense for your brand and your company. Choose an initiative that your company is passionate about, or don’t do it at all.
Don’t just talk about it; be about it. Being aware of a problem and talking about it is important, but only the first step. Explain it. Support it. Show what you are doing to contribute to a solution to the problem.
Create a call to action. Challenge your consumers to do something to support the cause. Make it easy for them to help out or make donations and show them what they have helped to accomplish with your brand. Some ways you can execute this include letting your consumer know that “10% of the profit from your purchase goes to charity,” or what Toms did by telling consumers that when they buy one pair of shoes, they’ll give one pair of shoes to a person in need. You can also reach millennials through social media outlets by holding contests in which the consumers show off their good deeds and win a product or service. This kind of marketing shows how being socially responsible can be tied back to your brand.
Do all this with millennials as your target market. Understand the diversity of millennials and what makes them tick. This Experian report points out that 45% of millennial adults identify as Hispanic and/or non-white, compared to 39% of Generation X (born 1961 – 1979), 27% of Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964), and just 17% of the Silent Generation (born 1925 – 1945). With this generation ranging from age 16 to around 35, the millennial group encompasses a wide range of diverse experiences and interests. How can you reach this generation? What do they want your brand to say about them?
Multiple brands have successfully made their brands more socially responsible through marketing efforts in the past five years. One of our favorite examples comes from Patagonia and their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign. In their 2011 campaign, Patagonia confidently stated their stance on environmental issues and explained how their products are created with quality in mind so that they can last longer than the average jacket. This campaign was successful for Patagonia in explaining their “Common Threads Initiative.” They challenged consumers to take a pledge to: “Reduce. Don’t buy what we don’t need. Repair: Fix stuff that still has life in it. Reuse: Share. Then, only when you’ve exhausted those options, recycle.” The campaign showed their stance on preserving the environment and portrayed them as a socially responsible brand, one that consumers could be proud to stand behind and wear.
By setting socially responsible initiatives that benefit both your company and your community, you can establish brand loyalty and respect. This socially responsible action will help to attract and maintain the support of the up-and-coming generation of consumers, as well as give your current fans a reason to smile about the kind of brand they are supporting.