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Millennials Love CSR

7 October 2015 at 11:29 am
Ellie Cooper
Millennials are the most passionate supporters of corporate social responsibility efforts, which influences their social media presence, career choices and product purchases, according to a new report.

Ellie Cooper | 7 October 2015 at 11:29 am


Millennials Love CSR
7 October 2015 at 11:29 am

Millennials are the most passionate supporters of corporate social responsibility efforts, which influences their social media presence, career choices and product purchases, according to a new report.

The 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study of more than 1000 Americans from ages 18 to 34 revealed that nine in 10 Millennials switched brands to one associated with a cause, compared to the 85 per cent average, and two-thirds used social media to engage around CSR, versus the 53 per cent average.

“Millennials are more fervent in their support of corporate social and environmental efforts and are, above and beyond, more likely to say they would participate in CSR initiatives if given the opportunity,” the report said.

The report found Millennials were more willing to purchase a product with a social or environmental benefit, tell friends and family about CSR efforts, voice opinions to a company about its CSR efforts and volunteer for a cause supported by a company they trust.

The group was also prepared to make personal sacrifices to make an impact on issues they cared about. 70 per cent of Millennials would pay more for products compared to the 66 per cent average, 66 per cent will engage in the sharing economy vesus 55 per cent, and 62 per cent of Millennials would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company compared to 56 per cent.

The report found this group was far more likely to use social media to address or engage with companies around social and environmental issues.

“Millennials, as digital natives, believe social media can be their megaphone to make an impact on issues they care about,” it said.

“While most Millennials turn to social channels to share and learn, there is also a portion that uses this medium as an avenue to participate in a direct dialogue with companies or contribute to CSR efforts.”  

38 per cent shared positive information about companies and issues they cared about compared to the 30 per cent average, and 26 per cent shared negative information about companies and issues they cared about versus 21 per cent.

“This hyper-connected generation is consuming media at an unprecedented pace. With social and environmental issues constantly in their social media feeds and inboxes, they simply can’t ignore how their decisions impact the world around them,” Cone Communications Executive Vice President of CSR Strategy, Lisa Manley, said.

The report found engaging Millennials in CSR efforts can trigger a positive advantage to company reputation and bottom-line, with 93 per cent of Millennials feeling better about companies upon learning of their efforts.

However, companies must reach Millennials with the right content and through the preferred communications channels. Millennials were found to be more likely to utilise social media and less likely to see traditional communications channels, including advertising, as effective.

Millennials also want to be entertained during CSR engagement, prioritising video, infographics and games when learning about company’s CSR commitments.

“The shift from traditional advertising to social media will be game-changing moving forward as companies try to break through to this always-on audience,” Cone Communications Senior Supervisor of CSR Planning and Insights, Whitney Dailey, said.

“In a world where CSR content and messages must compete for attention against cat memes and trending hashtags, it’s more important than ever before to bring CSR information to life through compelling content, visual storytelling and interactive experiences.”

The report warned corporations against using the same communications and engagement strategies for all Millennials, showing that gender, life-stage and income level impact CSR engagement.

“Young Millennials”, 18 to 24, were more likely to support CSR initiatives than “Mature Millennials”, 25-34, whose enthusiasm dropped when it came to reported action. Millennial males, while still proponents of CSR efforts, were also less enthusiastic than their female counterparts.

“With different priorities and drivers, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ message won’t inspire mass action within this generation. To appeal to a diverse Millennial audience, businesses need to understand the unique drivers and preferences of each segment to tailor their content, communications and channels for greatest impact,” Manley said.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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