by Jasmine Glasheen
Next-generation consumers are taking over the world. Millennials will outnumber Boomers in 2019, but not for long: by 2020, there will be even more Gen Z customers than Millennials. Young consumers are growing both in buying power and in number, and they made a big impression on retailers’ bottom lines this past holiday season, so understanding their purchasing preferences is essential as they come into their own. Yet young(ish) consumers aren’t the only ones incentivized by a brand’s corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Vend reports, “Research has shown that 87% of customers consider CSR in their purchase decisions, and that “given similar price and quality, consumers 91% are likely to switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause.”
With that said, let’s take a look at how brands can get their CSR on-point to boost sales.
Sustainability Drives Gen Z
The reality is that modern shoppers are driven to purchase by factors that had little to no influence over their predecessors– especially Gen Z consumers, who are even more gung-ho on CSR than Millennials. Gen Z customers are willing to spend 10 to 15 percent more for sustainably-produced apparel. “Meanwhile,” Adweek reports, “a Nielsen study from 2015 found nearly three-quarters of 15- to 20-year-olds would pay more for a sustainable product, compared to just 51 percent of Baby Boomers.”
Gen Z customers are more loyal to brands that sell products that are made in a way that aligns with their philosophy than they are to the corporations themselves, so value-driven marketing campaigns are the name of the game for retailers that want to appeal to this young demographic.
Millennials Trust Transparent Brands
In today’s call-out culture, it should come as no surprise that Millennials are attracted to brands that are up-front about their business practices. Patagonia is setting the pace for Millennial expectations by taking a stance on political issues and donating large percentage of their profits to charity. While most retailers can’t be Patagonia, they can be more transparent with their brand practices, and many retailers don’t realize how much control they actually have over how customers view their brand. Yes, it’s important for brands to have a strong CSR, but they also need to know how to publicize what they’re doing right. Forbes reports:
“These purpose-focused initiatives started out years and years ago as transactional marketing initiatives. In recent years, they’ve evolved to become more corporate-driven with socially responsible business practices leading the way. The next step we’ll see in this evolution is a values-driven approach led by brand activism.”
Publicize Sustainability Efforts
All of the CSR in the world can’t help a retailer’s bottom line if nobody knows about it, which is why, when it comes to reaching eco-conscious consumers, knowing how to market your endeavors is half of the battle. “When you launch your CSR efforts, market it like you would for an event or a promotion,” Vend suggests. “Mention your initiatives to customers, put up in-store decals, posters, or signage, talk about them in your newsletter, and dedicate a few social media updates to your cause. If you have a website, create a dedicated page for it as well.”
Another aspect of this is making sure that the right customers can find the brand by adding words like “sustainability,” “vegetarian,” and “eco-friendly” to your product descriptions whenever applicable, so that your products show up in customer’s search results.
The bottom line? Customers of all ages are attracted to sustainable brands and the number of customers drawn in by sustainability is only going to grow. Keeping this in mind, retailers need to have a strong CSR and marketing campaign to expose customers to their brand’s sustainability initiatives all year long.