Sell Your Brand to Millennials with Responsible Business Practices
Millennials are now the largest generation in history and represent $2.45 trillion in spending power, which is driving global trends in a wide range of businesses and industries. These spending habits have demanded businesses operate more responsibly, more sustainably and more respectfully of the natural environment, a new movement for sustainable consumption has well and truly taken hold in the UK.
Why are such initiatives important for your brand? According to a 2014 survey, 55% of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to making a positive social and environmental impact.
In the digital age, a brand’s social, ethical, and environmental profile is easy to find and track.
With this information at our fingertips, consumers—and millennial consumers in particular—are empowered to make more informed decisions about the brands they use and support. Here are a number of practices fledgling businesses can adopt in order to create and communicate a sustainable brand.
Use tools that allow you to showcase your green initiatives
One of the biggest demands of millennial consumers is a brand that is committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Many businesses operate in industries that require high levels of energy consumption, sometimes unavoidably so.
Businesses that run a fleet of vehicles, small or large, can be particularly responsible for considerable contributions to the country’s carbon output. In fact, diesel vehicles alone contribute close to 40% of London’s NOx emissions and air pollutants. Millennial-favoured businesses that use a fleet of vehicles include: food delivery business (deliveroo), man and van companies and private transport companies (Lyft), making these businesses and their eco footprint a key target area.
Movolytics is a fleet management software company, rather unique among telematics providers in that they highlight the need for eco driving within their industry. Using their software, any business that operates a fleet of cars, vans or HGVs can track their fleet’s CO2 emissions, but also driver behaviour such as speeding and short-changing gears which can result in wasteful fuel usage.
The Movolytics brand itself appeals to millennials because they market their own green initiatives, but they also enable other businesses to report to customers on how they are reducing their carbon footprint. These tools help businesses prove their green credentials, as Intel demonstrate with this 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report, which gives a clear, accurate picture of the company’s sustainability initiatives. This is valued highly by the critical millennial generation.
Find ways to reduce your carbon footprint
For office-based companies, energy use is by far the largest contributor to their carbon footprint, often accounting for up to 50% of their carbon dioxide emissions. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reduce that footprint too. You can focus on four key areas to reduce your energy usage: lighting; office equipment; heating and cooling. Not only can help portray your brand as environmentally ethical to millennials, it help you cut down on unnecessary expenditure. SMEs can save as much as $400 million a year through carbon footprint reduction.
Similarly, businesses can easily implement a comprehensive recycling schemes, and make efforts to reduce their overall consumption and waste. Commercial waste management accounts for as much as 4% of the annual turnover of a business, leading to the Federation of Small Businesses carrying out an investigation into solutions for small businesses to contribute to a more sustainable economy. Their findings and solutions aim affect change by building waste reduction into design, offering ways to adopt short and long-term solutions.
Invest in sustainable development projects
Selling your brand to the environmentally-conscious millennial generation is not just about how you manage your own business operations, but the support you give to other sustainable development projects. In fact, millennials say sustainability is their number one shopping priority, which means developing a sustainable identity for your business can increase brand loyalty and therefore market share of profits.
Many companies are making efforts to operate more sustainably as members of the B Corp community. B Corps are for-profit companies that are certified as having met rigorous standards of social and/or environmental responsibility. Sustainability covers many bases, from ensuring a fair and ethical supply chain, mode of production, packaging and distribution of goods. As the nonprofit B Lab explains: “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee.”
Acción Verde is an agriculture and forest management micro-enterprise in Colombia, and is one example of a B Corp business working to build an environmental benefit into everything it does. Planting trees in strategic regions of Colombia, they work with third-parties to further long term development in the region.
Another example of a brand working towards a more sustainable future is Velvet Tissue, who have committed to plant three new trees for every one they use in the production of toilet tissue. It’s just one example of a project your business can support. Enabling these initiatives, a Sustainable Brands project helps businesses leverage private investment to help them achieve their sustainable development goals.
Be more socially responsible
It’s not just environmental sustainability millennial consumers value, but social responsibility too. Millennials are 79% more likely to purchase a company’s products if they consider that brand to be authentically socially responsible. This makes social consciousness a vital part of your business strategy, and suggests your efforts should be something to shout about too.
A popular strategy of businesses to promote themselves as more socially responsible includes the donation of a portion of profits to charitable causes or embracing buy-one-to-give one schemes. This is where companies donate an exact item match for every item sold, like Toms’ One for One shoe donation scheme.
Other businesses achieve recognition for social responsibility by embracing transparent business practices. This might include being open about your finances, such as this blog from search tools provider Moz on the inner workings of their business strategy. Others encourage employee volunteerism, giving staff paid time off in which they can volunteer on a project that gives back to the community. Examples include digital marketing company Buffer’s Employee Volunteering Programme, and UK consulting firm Accenture, which offers employees 3 corporate volunteering days a year to work with a local charity.
For businesses that are able to show consumers how buying and using their products and services supports ethical values and sustainable practice, they have a good chance of securing a large and loyal customer base, particularly among the hugely influential millennial generation.
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