Millennials to place CSR at the forefront of business objectives

17th August 2017

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a big buzz topic in contemporary business, and with the gross value of ‘matters CSR’ worth £76bn in the UK alone, it’s clearly an important commercial focus.

We have seen a rise in people taking an active interest in the ethical practices of the companies they buy from; there’s active engagement with purpose-driven brands; brands that strive to make life better, and resultantly make consumers feel better about the pound they spend.

A study from MediaCom (2017) reveals the power of brand purpose; 40% of consumers either stop using or never use a brand because of its corporate values or behaviours, with 63% believing brands have a responsibility to give back to society and 80% stating they must minimise environmental impact.  We’re clearly in an era with increasingly socially conscious consumers and there is a growing expectation for CSR responsibilities from all brands.

However, there’s a huge communications challenge for companies in convincing the public that their corporate values or behaviours are genuine and can be trusted when there’s an increasing cynicism surrounding CSR.  Public mistrust of big businesses is greater than ever, and consumers are keen to make their own assessment over what is tokenistic marketing collateral, rather than genuine philanthropy.

No news there I hear you say.

Here at ONE MS we find this topic of CSR fascinating and predict this to become even more paramount when you add Millennials into the mix.  Our fascination with the Millennial general continues following our bespoke research with this audience.  We know Millennials to be more socially and environmentally aware than previous generations, and so matters CSR are of heightened importance.  This is an audience that should be an increasingly relevant consideration for brands, not only from a consumer point of view, but also with Millennials inevitably starting to take on senior decision-making roles within businesses.

These guys will be exerting their own views on business strategy and ensuring the brand for which they’re responsible have a higher purpose.  In fact, according to the same aforementioned study by MediaCom, 62% of this demographic would take a pay cut to work for a more socially responsible company.

And they might just get praise indeed by putting CSR at the forefront of business objectives; almost half (49%) of consumers (60% of 18-24yr olds) are willing to pay more for a brand that supports a cause that’s important to them MediaCom (2017).  Couple those stats with the fact that M&S’s sustainability programme ‘Plan A’ has helped save the company £750m through related efficiencies, and you can see it’s worth the investment.

Either way, genuine CSR needs to be integrated into business strategy and at the heart of customer communications…whether it be the Millennials making their mark or not.