Millennials are driving a corporate social responsibility (CSR) revolution that is disrupting every company’s marketing strategy. For millennials, CSR is not an activity or organizational department. They view CSR as the foundational element for product design, function and end of product life repurposing.
This CSR revolution has hit marketing and sales right between the eyes. Brands are now boomer generation dinosaurs.
“Cool with a purpose” is what influences millennial purchases. A product is cool if it offers diverse social experiences, affordable prices and seamless integration into their digital lifestyles. But cool is not enough to keep a millennial customer.
Millennials also want to buy purpose. They are repurposing CSR from a staff function inside a business to an integrated feature incorporated in the products they buy.
Five CSR Actions That Win Millennial Customers
A Nielsen survey found that 62% of customers based their procurement decisions on the trust they have for the product and the company. 72% of those who use trust as a core basis for their purchases are willing to pay more for that product.
This is huge! It means two things. A product or service that fails to win on trust is at extreme competitive disadvantage.
It also means that a product or service that wins on trust can avoid the profit margin robbing battle to the bottom over price discounting. Not winning on trust makes a millennial customer as sticky to a company or its products as their next click on Amazon.
Unfortunately, this trust realty is still not a cornerstone for most businesses. For example, 75% of consumers believe food companies place their profits above human health. This lack of consumer trust dominates every industry and probably defines how your customers view your company. Solving this issue is CSR’s greatest contribution to business success.
There are five steps to winning millennial generation trust and they all relate to CSR’s ability to generate purpose for a company and its products. They are:
Build the business case for authenticity. Trust is built on authenticity. Trust wins customers. Trust shields a company from profit robbing price wars. Building this business case is CSR’s number one business task. CSR must be a “contact sport” that engages operations, sales and marketing on achieving customer trust.
Promote a transparent business culture. Transparency fosters authenticity. A VP for one of the world’s largest retailers said, “We are all naked. We have to get buff.” Today there are no secrets. Companies lose customers when they say what a customer wants them to say but fails to walk the talk. CSR’s role needs to be similar to a company’s financial auditors. They have to call it like it is. Yes, this is rocking the boat and rocking boats have a higher potential of sinking. This challenge takes exceptional skill. It is a challenge that CSR must accept if CSR is to have a influential business role.
Align value with values. Millennials started their adult lives during the Great Recession. They are fiscally conservative. They demand that values align with value. CSR must have a role in pricing. That role is to facilitate value and values in product pricing.
Enhance diversity. The millennial generation is the most diverse generation in history. They embrace diversity in experiences, relationships and purchases. A company that is not diverse is at extreme competitive disadvantage with this generation. CSR’s role is to advance management awareness and engage with the HR department to achieve a diverse environment.
Create experiences. Millennials are doers. They play games. They tweet, blog, text and post selfies. They seek social experiences. CSR is not an internal organizational activity. It must be a customer engagement platform. Doing so will make a company’s product both cool and purposeful. Doing so will win customer!
About the author
Bill Roth is the author of The Boomer Generation Diet, now on sale at Amazon! Here’s what Jen Boynton, Editor in Chief of Triple Pundit says about the book: ”Written in Bill Roth’s lovable, relatable tone. The Boomer Generation Diet is a must-read for any Boomer who is looking to jumpstart their health and have fun at the same time. I hope my parents read it!” Follow Bill on Twitter and Facebook.