Katie Richards has an interesting new article up in AdWeek about millennials, advertising, and social responsibility. The piece, "How Agencies Are Meeting Millennials' Demand for Socially Responsible Marketing" examines how marketers are responding to the potent combination of a younger generation with $2.45 in spending power and an insistence that companies do some measure of good in the world.
Companies have always made efforts to do some small amount of good through their business, weather it be through charitable donations, corporate giving, and encouraging volunteerism among their employees, but until recently, it was always considered something ancillary and secondary. Now, according to Richards, several big companies, including big names like Nike and Google, have integrated "corporate social responsibility" into the way they operate at a deeper level than just getting some good PR. And ad agencies have responded as well.
In fact, several agencies have popped up whose entire mission is socially responsible marketing, creating a kind of "agency cottage industry." And these socially responsible marketing efforts are really connecting with millennials, who, according to Omnicom Group's Cone Communications, are 66% more likely to engage with brands on social media if issues of social responsibility are involved.
The same group found that 70% of millennials will spend more on brands that support a cause and stand for corporate social responsibility, which is a great way to make money by doing good.
It is also important for brands to comprehend the difference between simply supporting a cause and actually standing for something. One-off events for charity are well and good, but to earn the support and loyalty of the millennial generation, companies have to have social responsibility integrated into their marketing from the beginning. It has to be baked in. Think about it less as something in the "margins," than as a long-term goal, and something close to a company's core mission.
If your company can figuring a marketing plan that promotes the brand, while finding a way to do some good in the worst, or at least stand up for a value that your company truly believes in, then you might also be able to find a way to connect with millennials in a way that is good for you, them, and the whole world around you.