When Millennials Commit to a Sustainable Lifestyle

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Digital marketing to digital natives is a whole new ballgame

The millennial perspective has upended the very concept of marketing. Seth Godin, the ultimate entrepreneur said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

The corporate world has realized that traditional marketing is irrelevant to the millennials, who are “digital natives” and grew up with technology. The smartphone is their most popular device and 7 out of 8 millennials have smartphones. Surveys of millennial tech use find that they touch their smartphones 45 times a day, and 5 out of 6 millennials connect with companies on social media networks. A Bank of America survey which studied the behavior of over 23,000 adults, found that, on any given day, millennials engage more with their smartphones than with other human beings. Further, they stay connected to trusted friends and peers on social media platforms on the smartphone through the day, exchanging ideas and telling stories about their experiences. And suddenly, their interest on a product or service is kindled by listening to the experiences of those they trust. Traditional advertising has no place in their world, as 84% of millennials do not trust it.

Strategic communications expert Faris Yakob, says, “Customer service and research should be the departments that first adopt Twitter in an organization.”

An important discovery that marketers like SEO Sydney make when studying Millennials, is that their demand for products pivots on “sustainability.” In fact, a recent Nielsen Report on consumer insights stated that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, with 73% of Millennials thinking the same way. With their smartphones and the Internet, Millennials research ingredients and study labels. They buy personal care and beauty products, clothes, workout gear and other necessities from companies that use natural and sustainable material and engage in fair labor practices. In fact, 50% of Millennials and 54% of the younger Gen Z are willing to spend 10% more on sustainable products. Furthermore, 57% of Millennials and 59% of Gen Z are buying “upcycled products,” which are higher quality products made from discarded objects or materials. As New York University Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) Director, Tensie Whelan, said, "Across virtually every category of consumer-packaged goods, sustainability is where the growth is ... if you look at our data, there is a massive shift in the last five years."

As manufacturers are noticing, Millennials and Gen Z are unafraid to share their views with friends and family, questioning, even challenging, long-held beliefs. In addition, they are working in companies that visibly engage in sustainable and ethical business practices. Besides, as digital natives, social awareness is part of their work life, and they firmly believe that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is critical to fighting poverty and improving standards of living of the less fortunate. Some companies that focus on CSR, donate 1% of their profits to charity.

Millennials are going a step further and investing in socially responsible investments (SRIs), also known as “impact investing, or “green investing,” which are organizations that have a positive impact on the world. After all, as sustainability advocate, Jennifer Nini, said, “Being green is more than just buying “eco.” It is an unshakeable commitment to a sustainable lifestyle.”

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