How corporate purpose turns Millennials into brand ambassadors

Simon Mainwaring / Advertising / 7 years ago

TBWA recently released a fantastic global research report called “The Future of Social Activism” that provides potent insights into the opportunities available to brands that want to drive engagement and loyalty with Millennials.

Millennials have always been a darling of brands due to their disposal income, tech savviness and appetite for all things new, but in reviewing this report its important to realize that Millennials are now approaching their early 30’s, assuming management positions or leading their own companies, and will increasingly shape the priorities and profit centers of our business future. With this in mind, it’s powerful to see how important social activism is to their lives, how they like to participate and how pervasive activism is around the world.

 The various ways they prefer to engage reminds us that each brand must provide Millennials with a toolkit for participation so that their contribution is as individual as they are. Additionally, multinational brands must be mindful of regional preferences as, for example, we see donations top the engagement list in China while India leads in staying informed.

The issues Millennials care about most varies from country to country and its tempting to let that drive what cause you support. But a brand must ensure its own purpose, values and mission dictate what cause it supports to avoid accusations of greenwashing or causewashing. That way, a brand’s cause work drives Millennial engagement and reinforces the authentic for-profit narrative of the brand.

In case any brand is still needs convincing of the need to commit to cause work in alignment with their brands, here are the rewards Millennials are willing to offer brands that range from purchasing their products, brand loyalty and job seeking jobs at that company.

Seen together these findings support one conclusion. The most powerful way to engage Millennials, create brand ambassadors and build your business is to appeal to their hearts, not reach into their pockets. Those brands that take this message to heart will be the ones that profit most in the future.

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  1. This strategy works for markets beyond Millennials. There is a real shift toward the ‘WE’ focused on authentic core-values in all markets. True, the Millennials are tech-savvy and in many cases high earners/givers. Let’s not forget the Boomers, though who are a huge demographic and have often been leaders setting the bar for giving, social entrepreneurship, and the WE mentality. And then there are the others where mindset is rapidly shifting ‘our’ direction, too – thanks to the WE-based leadership, mentoring, and inspiration.

    1. So true Susan. the Boomers are such a powerful demo with a huge spike in social media engagement this year. Even my mother in law tracked me down the other days! We are all waking up to what we can achieve together. Simon

  2. Great points Simon, millennials certainly make ideal brand champions – I wish I had your insight for figuring out how to engage them for a specific product.
    I was chatting to a friend yesterday about these guys – – they make a sustainable, life cycle managed hydrogen car
    They’ve got a cool, innovating, market leading product with great design and a compelling business model. They’ve even got working models and sales. Yet they have hit a road block funding their next stage of development.
    I would have thought they’d be a highly attractive investment opportunity for dozens of sectors – energy companies, car manufacturers, venture capitalists, even hedge funds (Buy oil, hedge with hydrogen cars)

    To me these guys represent an ideal We First business candidate – they’ve got a great solution to several massive issues facing humanity around transportation – pollution, fossil fuel use, global warming, landfill depletion etc.

    If they can’t succeed with such a clearly necessary product, how is your average business supposed to do it?

    I’d love to hear your ideas on how a green or sustainable business like this can engage their market

    1. Dallas, I so hear you. There are so many great products that don’t succeed because they don’t have great marketing, and so many bad products that do because their marketing is really strong. Ultimately it’s the best story that wins because its the story and branding that creates the emotional connection with the customer that encourages them to buy. So I would recommend they do two things. 1. Really commit to telling their brand story. 2. make sure that story reflects a specific point of view on sustainability and not just that they’re sustainable. Finally they need to slowly build loyalty and trust like any business but use all the new social media channels as well to build a customer community. The marketplace is more competitive than ever but marketing is the key. I hope that helps, Dallas. simon

      1.  Thanks for your thoughtful reply Simon – that really makes sense, and fits with all the fundamentals. Its about the story and developing a specific and unique persona rather than stopping at a catch-all. I’ll pass it on. Cheers. Dallas

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