Can Millennials Save Us Through Cause Marketing?

Cone, Inc. specializes in cause marketing and has released some interesting information on important role of “Millennials” in corporate social responsibility. They are considerably more active in new media forums when it comes to learning about and supporting causes, but are also more receptive to cause marketing and are more likely to act. After hearing about a corporate-charitable partnership 88% would be likely to switch from one brand to another brand if the other brand is associated with a good cause (compared to an average of  79% for all adults). In addition, 51% have bought a cause-related product or service in the last year (compared to 38% for all adults). They also are more likely to donate their money, participate in events and volunteer compared to all adults.

This Millennial bent toward social cause becomes even more apparent when you compare it to the other generation’s attitudes. Baby Boomers are characterized as the “me” generation and are described as being narcissistic, intellectual and judgmental. Gen Xers became disillusioned cynics who are cautious and skeptical, alienated, searching for self and confrontational. In contrast, Millennials are seen as optimistic and confident achievers. They are disciplined and accepting of authority, well-educated, competitive, upbeat and open-minded.

How will this impact cause marketing? I think it will improve, grow and expand cause marketing efforts. Obviously this is the generation more open to and looking for social benefits. But cause marketing efforts will have to expand beyond traditional media and talk to Millennials the way they are used to talking. This is something Pepsi has already started with the Pepsi Refresh project by ditching their Super Bowl ads for a social marketing plan.

Instead of spending millions on commercials for this past year’s game, Pepsi put its money in the Refresh Project, an online cause marketing campaign that asks readers how the company should give away its grant money (Schwartz, 2010).

The cool thing about Pepsi Refresh for Millennials is that it takes advantage of their social media usage. People all over the web are spreading the word about the campaign encouraging others to vote for their cause via the likes of Twitter and Facebook.