By Allison McGuire
Growing up with MTV certainly puts me in the Millennial camp. From following the latest drama going down in the Real World house to jamming to the newest videos hosted by Carson Daly, I came of age with an appreciation (in this case, meaning knowledge) of overly dramatic spats and overly constricted clothing. I’ve moved past my MTV days though, as Pimp My Ride didn’t really do it for me.
That said, I was very pleased to see MTV issue a press release rebutting some of the fresh claims about “Generation Me” aka Millennials. A recent academic study purports that my generation is minimally interested in “participating in a community action program” (Millennials, 36%), and sees a decrease in “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” (Baby Boomers 73.0%; Gen X: 46.9%; Millennials, 44.6%).
In addition, the article notes our avariciousness; when given the life-goals question, How important is it to you to be “very well off financially”? Millennials gave it a 74%; Baby Boomers a 45%.
These main takeaways are myths. Here’s why:
Myth #1: We don’t care about communities.
Millennials define the term “community” to mean more than just our down-the-street neighbors and neighborhood organizations. Instead of “participating in a community action program,” MTV turned the question on its head by asking the importance of “helping those who are less fortunate in your community”, which moved the dial from 36% to 66%. Nice.
A recent Cone study found, “[in] addition to supporting local causes, Millennials also rally around causes that have a global impact…top cause interests include education, poverty, the environment and health and disease.”
Cause marketing takeaway: Millennials want to do good in a global context. For better or for worse, we’re also accustomed to receiving immediate gratification. Creativity gets our attention. If you design a cause marketing campaign that is relevant, has a direct action ask, and allows consumers to watch the impact occur, we’ll eat it up.
Tevolution, an iced tea company with the tagline “twist, sip, give” is a perfect example. The instructions are simple, and consumers do good via giving to a cause of their choice (food/shelter, education, health/wellness), which correlates directly to Millennials interests.
The secret sauce is in their donation tracking. Tevolution knows that Millennials are passionate about cause, but wary about where charity money goes. By allowing each consumer to track their 25¢ donation, the company removes any doubt that the money isn’t going where it should.
Myth #2: We don’t have an interest in developing “a meaningful philosophy” of life.
When MTV posed the question a different way, “[How important is] developing something meaningful with my life” [emphasis mine], the number spiked to 86%!
Cause marketing takeaway: Defining “something meaningful with my life” can be applied to consumption of goods. The previously noted Cone study found 83% of Millennials trust socially responsible companies, with 74% being more likely to pay attention to that company’s message because of its deep cause commitment.
Far over half of us purchase based on perceived company commitments to social and/or environmental causes. Further, we will not only punish companies that aren’t socially/environmentally aware by refusing its goods, services, and opportunities to work there; we’re happy to spread the word to family, friends, and our social media networks too.
Do your part. When you commit to causes, ensure it’s a proper fit (e.g. Patagonia and the environment) and make sure to publicize your efforts widely. We want to hear when you’re doing good!
Myth #3: We’re super greedy.
Net Impact found most workers would take a 15% paycut in order to do purposeful work. An even larger proportion of Millennials care about working in jobs deemed impactful; for companies committed to CSR; and within organizations with shared values. Fully, 80% of us want to work for a company that takes care of how it impacts society.
Cause marketing takeaway: When seeking out Millennials, look no further than your corporate social responsibility portfolio. Is it easy to understand? Can you explain to Millennials how your products/services relate to your cause? What about their job contributes to making a difference? If Millennials already view your brand as a responsible one, you’ll have a much easier time selling to us and recruiting top talent.
MTV photo via http://www.georgelois.com/pages/milestones/mile.mt
Tevolution quarter photo via Allison McGuire