Are Millennials the key to influencing greater corporate social responsibility?
The Millennial 20/20 Australia Summit, held mid-November in Sydney, saw business leaders from TOMS and Nespresso discuss how the growing economic power of Millennials could have positive ethical ramifications that transcend consumer sectors from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to fashion.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not a new phenomenon. Approximately 76 percent of Millennials agree that businesses are having a positive impact on society and harness the power to incite real change, says a recent Deloitte Millennial Survey. Yet 41 percent believe multinational businesses are still not realising their potential to alleviate some of society’s biggest challenges.
At the summit, John Elliott, managing director, TOMS Australia and NZ, discussed how Millennials are driving socially responsible business models, changing the traditional marketing model,and championing ethical investment into the economy.
“The Millennial consumer not only needs a great product, but is interested in what positive social outcomes business can provide,” explains Elliott.
TOMS began in footwear in 2006 with a One for One initiative, matching every pair of shoes sold with a pair of shoes for a person in need. As the organisation expanded globally, TOMS now assist with aid for providing vital amenities including eye care, safe drinking water, safe childbirth facilities and anti-bullying services.
“We are actively engaged in making sure we use our business to provide positive outcomes and we let the consumer know that without their participation we cannot achieve our mutual desire to make the world a better place,” says Elliott.
TOMS has collaborated with partners to begin movements such as One Day Without Shoes and World Sight Day – annual events to raise awareness for the global issues of poverty and avoidable blindness and visual impairment.
With the sheer amount of information available online, brands are now subject to more scrutiny than ever before. Transparency in marketing is key to gaining trust with these discerning younger audiences, and proving an ethical supply and production chain are vital to building brand loyalty.
Michael Brunt, CMO at The Economist, a partner of Millennial 20/20, recognises the media company has advocated for positive change through its editorial since its founding in 1843, but admits modern marketing needs to be meaningful and personalised to find traction, with the key to success being transparency of practices and intentions.
“We are excited to continue our recent activation campaign at Millennial 20/20 where we will be serving smoothies made from ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables which would have been otherwise thrown out,” Brunt says. “With food wastage a topical ethical conundrum, especially in Australia, it provides a valuable opportunity to demonstrate our business values to the millennial market.
“It’s about creating a two-way conversation that allows consumers to engage with our brand directly, making it memorable. Our audience, by nature, are curious, and so they think ‘what on earth is going on here?’ Ultimately leading to more meaningful connections to the product and brand,” concludes Brunt.
In addition, Loïc Réthoré, head of Oceania, Nespresso, presented at Millennial 20/20 on how increased interest from consumers on ethically sourced and organically made produce is re-shaping the food and beverage industry.
Following successful summits in London, New York and Singapore, Australia’s inaugural Millennial 20/20 Summit took place in Sydney on 14 to 15 November 2017 at Carriageworks. The summit delved into how the millennial mindset, including ethical expectations, is reshaping the future of commerce for consumer brands and retailers.
Image: John Elliott, managing director, TOMS Australia and NZ