Conscious Consumers

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Millennials Know They Are Buying More Than A Product

Technology has created a huge interactive world. With social media, hundreds of apps, and smartphones, any amount of information you want is at your fingertips. And millennials know how to use these technologies to benefit them the best.

They have become a generation of researchers. While it is known that just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true, a statement that has become even clearer with the whole nation being more conscious of fake news, but that only makes the millennial consumer even more cautious as to where they are putting their dollars.

A company can no longer simply sell their product and have the quality of said product stand on its own. Nowadays, online reviews alone can make or break a brand, especially when they haven’t created an internet presence for themselves. Now those reading internet reviews are taking it a step further.

Consumer Questioning

Millennials are asking deeper questions about the companies with which they are doing business. It is not just how is the quality of the product, but it’s did they create this product responsibly? Was this product made in my country? Was it made in a way that could hurt the environment? Were the people working for this company treated fairly? Did this company or those involved with it commit to a political cause with which I don’t align?

The answers to these questions aren’t that hard to find. A simple Google search and maybe a few hours clicking through articles, or a simply tweeting out one of these questions with a few hashtags can give any one of your customers answers to these deeper questions. If the answer isn’t something they want to hear, they are quick to take away their dollars and put their money elsewhere.

In a Nielson Survey conducted in 2012, over 28,000 people from 56 countries were asked if they prefer to buy products and services from companies that implement programs that give back to society. They were also asked whether they would be willing to pay extra for those services.

Nielson reports that “66 percent of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. That preference extends to other matters, too: They prefer to work for these companies 62 percent, and invest in these companies 59 percent. A smaller share, but still nearly half, 46 percent, say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies.”

The majority of those people were under the age of 40, and two-thirds of them identified that environmental issues were one of the top issues they wish more companies supported. This is a trend that will continue to grow even past the millennials.

A 2015 online study conducted by Nielson states, “The rise in the percentage of respondents aged 15 to 20, also known as Generation Z, who are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact, was also strong—up from 55 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015.”

Seeking Substance
One such example is the resent trend of millennials closing their bank accounts at any major bank that was involved in the funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline or Bakken pipeline is a 1,172-mile-long underground oil pipeline project in the United States. The pipeline recently became a very polarized topic. Whichever stance someone takes with its construction, the in-depth look at who was funding it by the younger generation is something of which to take note.

It took a quick internet search to see who exactly was funding this project, and anyone who disagreed with the building of the pipeline quickly started pulling their own business from the banks, choosing instead to put their money in local credit unions that are more align with their world views.

This heavy searching can also add to many companies’ benefits. CostCo has been known for its fair treatment of its employees, and it environmental resources have influenced its customers to choose them over competitors. Millennials are way more likely to give their business to a company they also feel is responsible and holding up values with which they align.

So, along with an internet presence with your website and social media, make sure you are broadcasting other aspects of your business such as charitable giving. While it might seem superfluous to post when you could just post another advertisement or coupon to get them to buy your products, that simple donation to a charity shows that you are involved in your community and your company has a good set of values.

If environmental concerns are important to you, make sure there is a recycling bin in your offices, or only order recycled paper products, and then promote that across your different online platforms. If a facility has recently adapted to solar, advertise that fact.

Looking deep into these questions of who you partner with is quite important as well. While you might not think that who you get your resources from, or what services you use, represent what you are doing with your company, you are still giving them your business. Guilt by association does apply for the millennial consumer. If your company has anything that might be seen as unsavory business practices, it behooves you to quickly rectify those issues.

On the positive side, showing off your positive business practices will quickly catch the eye of the millennial market and can be the tipping point for them to show up to your business with their wallets wide open. Overall, the millennials feel that each place they support has the same amount of effect on their identity has the type of clothes they choose to wear. It’s not just what they are buying, it is who they are as a person.

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