By Frankie Crognale
If you’ve been anywhere near a computer, smart phone, or television in the past two years, you’ve absolutely heard the term “sustainability” Sustainability has been the word of the day for over a year, and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. How and why has the sustainable movement infiltrated nearly every area of our lives recently?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a branch of the United Nations – we meaning every single one of us on the planet have only about twelve years left to really turn climate change around before the consequences become totally cataclysmic. Thankfully, both individuals and groups are beginning to realize this, including 90% of businesses across the country, as noted in MITSloan’s Management Review Report.
Considering major corporations are responsible for 71% of the planet’s pollution, this revelation is (fingers crossed) going to spearhead an actual change. While it is evident “sustainable” ideals are a big deal, what exactly does it mean for a brand or its products to be sustainable?
What Is Sustainability Marketing?
Sustainability in the world of business is defined as “the ability of an organization to thrive over time in a way that protects and replenishes resources” (YodelPop). Basically, making money and helping the greater good while you do so.
Interestingly, the businesses that market themselves as “sustainable” or “green” are the ones that the millennials have their eyes transfixed on. In a Forbes analysis of millennials and their spending habits, it was revealed that nearly 70% of millennials would spend more money at companies that support a cause they are passionate about, such as climate change, animal welfare, LGBTQIA+ rights, etc.
Some may attribute this to the ability to be more connected and informed through the explosion of social media and it’s influencers, witty marketing (think Lacoste’s “Save Our Species” campaign), or an overall, generally pleasing and “earthy” aesthetic, complete with white linen and foliage for days. Fortunately/unfortunately, living eco-consciously and being generally nice to the earth is viewed as “trendy” coupled with green juice in a plastic cup or a vegan in a leather belt (guilty).
In light of the recent surge of actually putting your money where your mouth is, businesses are doing their best to get ahead of the game and not only keep the millennials intrigued, but constantly wanting more.
Targeting Your Sustainable Marketing To Millennials
It’s also important to note that With that being said, sustainability does come with a steeper price tag. Being green accounts for not only well-made clothing with quality materials, but it also encompasses the workers that make those garments and the conditions they work in. However, millennials are notorious for the “save up and buy” mentality, which speaks directly to only spending their hard-earned dollars on causes that are close to them, it just so happens the clothes that are encompassed in those campaigns are eco-conscious.
The following from AdAge perfectly sums up what millennials are looking for in a product:
“Millennials aren't cheap—they're strategic.
They respond very well to value, and like products that have long-term staying power."
Sustainable materials coupled with a good cause and garment longevity make for a very happy consumer. Millennials and their money have been particularly hard to figure out, judging by the countless studies done on their spending habits alone. However, being a millennial, (or a cusp, if you’d like to get technical) I don’t think we’re hard to figure out, we just crave something different.
Disrupting the norm is our specialty and being that we are the largest generation in the workforce (a.k.a., we’re the new boomers) we’re doing exactly what we set out to do, which is to disrupt. We can only hope the rest catch up to us.