As millennials continue to increase in ranks in the workforce, so does the desire to have products that are good for the environment. This includes businesses they patron and their workplaces, as well as their homes. Corporations are increasing looking to this demographic, who are tech savvy and socially conscious, to lead their company’s technology decisions. In large part to accommodate how this demographic likes to work — flexible and mobile.
Currently 54 percent of millennials, who by 2020 will make up 75 percent of the workforce, consider the environmental impact of products when making a purchasing decision in conjunction with 45 percent of Gen Xers. As the baby boomer generation heads towards retirement, these two blocks are the majority of the workforce and consumer base, wielding significant purchasing power in both their personal lives and corporate ones.
Overall there has been an increase in the U.S. market, from 31 percent to 42 percent of the population, which purchase and demand products that take the health and sustainability of the planet into consideration, with 73 percent believing that a healthy body and healthy environment go hand in hand. This can be tracked through the continued increase in healthy lifestyle choices driven by millennials compared to previous generations.
This research, collected by the Natural Marketing Institute, also shows that 64 percent of millennials and 51 percent of Gen-Xers would buy more environmentally friendly products and services if available, including if they even cost more than the non-environmentally friendly versions. This plays out in an increase to 31 percent and rising of the general population saying they are less concerned with price than on a products impact on the environment and the manufacture’s attitude towards sustainability. Consumers are also more likely to seek out those companies for products and services with 54 percent indicating it has a significant impact on purchasing decisions. Not only do they seek out these types of companies but often punish companies through boycotts that they feel don’t measure up to their standards of participating in social responsibility and environmental responsibility.
Much of the data about what millenials are interested in can be garnered through analytics provided by companies such as Google as this generation is willing to do the research, typically online, about how a company behaves and the products or services they offer. This can even include real-time data as decisions are being made about what to purchase. Also, the initial purchase is not where these groups stop. Millennials, and to a large extent Gen-Xers, will upgrade or change course after a purchase decision is made if the company’s product or service does not measure up to claims. This includes if a company hides information, makes a misstatement or commits a serious faux pas unrelated to the product purchased. A prominent example of this is Volkswagen altering emissions testing on their diesel cars. The company saw not only a huge drop in sales of new diesel cars but also of their gasoline cars. There were consumers trading in their Volkswagens for other brands even if not directly impacted by this information.
Additionally, the chief sustainability officer and corporate sustainability reporting continue to be a necessary part of corporate life to satisfy this demand. Making this information readily available and not fluffing it or being hyperbolic is crucial as the company’s word only takes then so far. These savvy consumers use technology in rapid pace to verify through real-life experience by their peers to verify how well and accurate they corporate statements are and the performance of the product or service is compared to what a company tells you. In other words, fake news about a product or service will be found out faster than you can read this sentence. Additionally, multiple points of verification from what these consumers view as trusted sources will give them the confidence or not within their purchase.
Advice for companies is to be honest about their service or product’s performance. Highlight verifiable benefits related to social and environmental responsibility. Don’t green-wash and use product or industry standard metrics. Realize the consumer landscape has changed and you are not in control any longer.