In an age where smaller brands are gaining traction at lightning speed and consumers are being courted at every turn, brands will try anything to get—and more importantly—keep consumers. They’re literally throwing millions of dollars at innovation, sponsorships, social media, and just about any other tactic you can think of.

But they may be missing the one thing that’s been sitting right in front of them. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) isn’t a new idea, but it’s a very relevant one, especially with younger generations.

With the rapid increase in new brands and overwhelming access to information, it’s our job as marketers to figure out what exactly motivates consumers to choose brands and, more importantly, stick with them. Based on how much Millennials claim to hate everything “corporate”, you may be surprised at how important “corporate responsibility” actually is to them.

More and more, Millennials have specific demands for their brands and they’re not always just about the product or service. So, perhaps before spending a lot of money on things that may or may not work, a truly authentic and impactful CSR effort is worth a shot.

Unsure of the value of CSR efforts? Check out these success stories.

You may not remember, but during the Recession, Starbucks really struggled. After years of sales growth deceleration, the CEO, Howard Schultz, launched a Transformation Agenda aimed at investing in the people who worked there. He believed that “the rules of engagement for a public company have changed, and there’s an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate a role in society that’s beyond profitability and shareholder value. We yield on the side of making our people proud. It galvanizes our organization.”

In line with that thinking, Starbucks created three pillars: community, ethical sourcing, and the environment. They partnered with local nonprofits and their stores offer services aimed to meet the needs of the communities, donating up to .15 cents per transaction to the nonprofit partner. They’re also committed to ensuring that their products are responsibly and ethically produced and purchased.

And this new strategy worked. Sales and revenue began to increase with more than 40% of their sales coming from young adults aged 18-24. Both their consumers and their employees are engaged in the work, which is a good thing as a company’s performance tends to increase as customers begin to trust the company.

KIND is another brand that’s been practicing CSR from its inception. Since 2004, this snack bar brand has been on a mission to “make the world a little kinder”. And how are they doing that? KIND developed a campaign of #kindawesome cards, which get distributed to friends, family, and even strangers when they see someone performing a kind act. Each card has a special code for the recipient to enter online to receive a token of KIND’s appreciation and another #kindawesome card to pay it forward. KIND CEO, Daniel Lubetzky, even wrote a handbook for life and business success and 100% of those proceeds are donated to furthering acts of kindness. How do they know it’s working? 4 out of 5 team members at KIND say kindness is more top of mind for them since working at KIND.

Compared to five years ago, the number of companies directing corporate citizenship from the C-Suite has increased nearly 75%. Four in 10 Americans say they’re more likely to buy from a company when they agree with the CEO, and Millennials are twice as likely to buy from companies whose CEOs take positions they agree with than from companies with CEO positions they disagree with 46% to 19%. That’s a much more successful approach for Millennials than some of the tactics brands are throwing against the wall today.

Want to figure out how to best utilize your CSR? Looking to simply enter into the CSR space in an effort to engage Millennial consumers? Let’s talk.

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