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Millennials seek socially-responsible brands

As more millennials enter the workforce, their influence in the marketplace is stronger than ever – and they are looking for socially responsible branding.

Recent research consistently finds that consumers favour socially-conscious companies. A Forbes article written by millennial career expert, Sarah Landrum, reports that 73 percent of millennial survey respondents say they will spend more on products from a sustainable brand. That’s quite a leap up from the average (not broken down by generation), where 66 percent of respondents responded positively to the same sentiment.

Responsible companies

According to Sarah, millennials possess distinct values and habits tied to their earning and spending habits. “They prefer to do business with corporations and brands with pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods and ethical business standards.” 

Echoing Sarah’s position on the matter, additional research reveals that nine out of ten millennials would switch to brands associated with a cause – and companies around the world are rising to the occasion. The 2018 Responsible Business Trend Report highlights that 69 percent of corporate brands now integrate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their business strategies, a nine percent increase from the previous year.

Ethical marketing

As the percentage of millennials in the workforce grows, the generation’s focus on technology and social media keeps driving companies to be socially responsible. The expectations are three-fold – it’s not enough to give back to the community and consciously consume, or even replenish, the world’s resources, younger consumers also want ethical and transparent marketing. Millennials are looking for open and honest communication from companies about their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. 

Sarah says that millennials respond to the idea of CSR “in a way that no previous generation has before”. And with responsible consumption and production as one of the SDGs identified to meet the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, food and beverage producers need to act now.

Transparent supply chain

Of course, for millennials to believe the sustainability claims of the brands they choose, these need to be credibly supported. Sustainably sourced and produced emulsifiers, for example, can be supported through RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certification. This helps to give consumers confidence that the palm oil sourced for a product is well aligned with the SDGs.

In the future, many more checks and balances will exist to ensure that the entire food supply chain is acting responsibly. The key to achieving this seems likely to be blockchain technology, which promises to provide almost complete transparency throughout the entire supply chain.

How might blockchain work in the food industry? Put simply, blockchain provides a decentralised administration system, turning the entire food supply chain into multiple, independent sets of real-time checks and balances. If this relatively new technology becomes a reality, we can expect data about quality, traceability and sustainability, for example, to become far more easily available – and reliably verifiable – than it is today.

A matter of survival

To survive in a marketplace fuelled by socially-conscious millennials, brands need to get on board and readily communicate their commitment to CSR. Even small accomplishments can go a long way to positioning your brand as one that millennials prefer when scanning the supermarket shelves – or browsing online.

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