The GO team recently attended SXSW, Austin’s yearly gathering of emerging media, music, cinema, and immersive demos. One topic, in between the panel discussions and networking events, materialized throughout the week as an issue that will impact the economy, and all industries, for years to come.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Database, Millennials make up one-fourth of the earth’s population, or in other words, there are 1.7 billion of them. As this generation has grown up in an era of economic, social, and environmental uncertainty, they are ready to make a difference and change the world one purchase at a time. Millennials also are more global and educated than other age groups. They matured during the age of technology and possess a better sense of humanity beyond their backyard. Their higher than average education levels have resulted in having greater expectations of brands, placing more value on quality and ethical standards.
“Businesses are starting to turn their mission statement into their marketing message. At GO, our mantra is ‘Do Good Work’ which means, in addition to producing the best work for our clients, that we do the right thing for our community.”
Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials, more than any generation before them, are more inclined to buy a product when they feel like they are “doing something.” With $3.39 trillion in spending power, businesses are smart to be paying attention. 80% of the top global CEOs recognize that exhibiting a dedication to societal purpose is a differentiator to their target audience, and more S&P 500 companies are now providing sustainability reports, up to 81% from 20% five years prior.
Chad Turner, GO’s President and Co-Founder, states, “Businesses are starting to turn their mission statement into their marketing message. At GO, our mantra is ‘Do Good Work’ which means, in addition to producing the best work for our clients, that we do the right thing for our community.”
The drive to make a positive change in the world, whether through local efforts or a global scale, has elevated the use of purpose-driven marketing. Also known as cause marketing, this promotional patronage joins for-profit business together with a charity or social cause.
Some are making adjustments in their packaging to boost funding, as Starbucks did when it modified their cups to red to raise money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Others build cause purchasing into their branding, such as the Buy a Pair, Give a Pair campaign from TOMS. In addition, industry giants are embracing conscious consumerism, including PepsiCo’s take on the $2.8 billion premium water market by providing an authentic connection to art and design through LIFEWTR. Similarly, Jack Daniels launched the Jack Fire campaign to promote their Tennessee Fire beverage with a nationwide benefit concert series in partnership with iHeart Radio. The proceeds will be used to support firefighters and communities impacted by fire.
Purpose-driven marketing isn’t successful without using caution. If a company doesn’t come across as authentic, exaggerates a claim (like how much money the firm is actually giving towards a cause), or is found out to be self-serving, then the campaign will not only cease to be effective, but the Millennial consumer will deliberately not spend their money with that organization. Furthermore, businesses must choose their path wisely, align themselves with reputable causes and foundations, and pay attention to the social atmosphere.
Lastly, purpose-driven marketing doesn’t stop once a company has associated themselves with a cause. The vehicle chosen to deliver their message is just as important to the issue as the message itself. It is estimated that 84% of millennials don’t trust conventional advertising. The days of running a traditional advertisement on the radio, and then expecting the consumer to believe everything they hear, are over. Millennials want authentic forms of communication. Social media, blogs, commenting campaigns, video, word-of-mouth campaigns, user-generated content, and SEO are considered to be more transparent and, therefore, more believable to this particular consumer group.
Millennials want change, and they aren’t afraid to fight for it. They don’t hesitate to walk out of their school, march in the streets of DC, post their views and beliefs on Facebook, or use their purchasing power to make a difference.