Setting the Record Straight: Millennials Believe in CSR

by AllisonM_NFG on ‎06-13-2012 6:00 AM, EDT - last edited on ‎01-11-2013 2:34 PM, EST by Network for Good Specialist

I’ve recently been struck by how much Millennials believe in corporate social responsibility. (You can read my post on Millennials and engagement here.)   You may not come across a group of Millennials in deep conversation using words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘greening the supply chain’ or reviewing the latest CSR report from Nestlé, but my generation actively seeks out brands that they recognize as doing good and acting responsibly.


Upon participating in a Tweetup on Campbell Soup’s new CSR report with its VP of Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, Dave Stangis, and his crack team of CSR experts, I realized how much work goes into creating CSR reports. I’m not just talking about the reporting, research, and writing of the document—though that’s a massive undertaking—I’m particularly interested in how much companies have to work to prove all that work was worth it.


Stangis answered questions from a wide variety of CSR professionals, including one of my own (Why is it important to you to be the leader in your field?), and was incredibly open and honest about Campbell’s process, reporting, and challenges.


Here’s what I want Campbell CSR and all other companies to know: Millennials believe in the work you are doing—it’s worth it.


                                                                       Millennials talking.JPG

Photo Credit: Allison McGuire


My generation has been imbued with a sense of responsibility. We feel responsible for ourselves, our neighbors (online and off), our communities, our planet. We grew up learning the importance of recycling and using less water, and that our actions directly affect our communities. In return, we believe that companies have a responsibility to us, our society, and our world.


We understand the importance of a bottom line, but believe companies need to give back some of what they’ve earned. We see smart ways for companies to do this too—such as transparency in reporting, sustainable business practices, and using company products and services for good. According to Edelman’s goodpurpose study, a whopping 76% of global consumers believe it is okay for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time, up from 57% in 2008.


The same study showed 73% of global consumers switching brands, if a similar product or service was offered by a company supporting a good cause.


Why are these numbers growing? Why are the percentages so high?


I’d argue Millennials are changing the dialogue when it comes to responsible business practices. We support businesses that develop and execute robust CSR strategies, and we can identify when it’s just an empty PR stunt.


We’re not just making purchases for ourselves, either. It’s a frequent occurrence for Baby Boomers, parents of Millennials, to consult with our generation on what to buy. Why? Because “more often than not, [we’re] the more informed consumers” making 88% of household apparel purchases made under our influence!


With the rise of Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites, we’re sharing when we see companies are doing great CSR work…and when they’re not.

If we’re unaware of a brands’ contribution (or lack thereof) to societies, the environment, etc. the information is only a few clicks away. The Good Guide (which if you don’t know about, check out now) has both a mobile app and a website that allows consumers to scan barcodes or search items to find how their favorite products rank on a scale of 1-10 in three categories: health, environment, and society.


So guess what? If you’re doing good, we know. If you’re not, we know. And not only do we know, but we’re empowered by this information and make decisions based upon it.

I’d like to give massive kudos to Campbell CSR for engaging with CSR pros and consumers alike. Not only are they promoting their most recent report, they’re acknowledging the internal and external challenges with their self-imposed goals and the importance of their work.


Keep it up. We Millennials are listening.  

by Laurie Burgess
on ‎06-14-2012 8:01 AM, EDT

I agree with you, Allison. Millennials, myself included, are definitely more aware of companies' good deeds. The challenge is communicating CSR efforts to customers in a transparent way that feels sincere. The cause-marketing, customer-facing CSR initiatives are easy for customers to see, but it is more challenging to communicate the energy savings, ethics, corporate governance and the other CSR branches. 

by AllisonM_NFG
on ‎06-14-2012 12:00 PM, EDT

Thanks for your comment, Laurie. Sincerity and transparency are always important facets of any corporate social responsibility strategy. As more companies work on transparency in energy, ethics, and corporate governance, I'm sure we'll see some creative communications tactics. If you have any ideas, feel free to share!


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