By Stanislava Burianek
We already know very well that Millennials represent a very significant spending power globally and even more so in the Middle East. They represent US$2.45 trillion in spending power, according to Adweek and according to Omnicom Group, 70% of them are likely to buy brands that support causes they care about. Subsequently, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a significant priority to brands targeting this segment.
While brands aspire to sell to Millennials more effectively, there are few more compelling reasons why companies need to be upping their CSR game. At least 60% of MENA workforce today is populated by millennials who are on average 34 years old. Another important point to consider here, is that 67% of all the millennial talent in the Middle East want to leave the corporate world and start their own business.
Millennials are not alone in defining today’s workplace as they are followed head-on by Generation Z that is starting to enter the corporate world as we speak, and their career behavior is like their predecessors but on steroids. Generation Z grew up in the era of the internet and social media. Today the question is no longer just how to sell to millennials but how to employ them effectively and retain them while being able to communicate with them and Gen Z. The question is how to win their loyalty even before they start looking for the right place where they will want to realize their career aspirations.
When it comes to communications strategies, companies are making an even stronger emphasis on the “great place to work” messagewhether they are business to business solutions providers, technology vendors or even a consumer brand. They don’t just want to sell to millennials and Gen Z anymore, rather they want to employ them and retain them as they consider these young talented people as long-term investments. Whereas many companies talk about the benefits they offer, training and financial remunerations, the best way to win millennial and Gen Z’s hearts is by doing something so awesome they will desperately want to contribute to the growth of the company and be part of its evolution.
CSR is definitely a great way to start and not just an occasional blood donation, but an ongoing activity or cause that your organization supports and believes in. The cause shouldn’t be very distant from your core business and preferably makes sense. If your organization produces printing paper, planting trees would be the best way to go about your CSR and to celebrate your achievements, sponsoring block parties or hosting community events will probably be a great cherry on top.
Although CSR activities are key, brands that have stronger philosophy in the core of what they do and the cause they support will continue being more attractive for the mentioned generations. Brands can’t change what they do overnight as a tire manufacturer can’t stop making tires, but they can recycle more, reuse old runners and some even go as far as creating biodegradable 3D printed tires.
Good initiatives and brands’ aspirations to supporting a cause will make little to no impact if not properly communicated to the audiences they target. Communications should be focused and conducted in the manner that appeals to millennials and Gen Z. Visual content shared across digital channels is the best way to go about it.
It is however very important that brands are real in their pursuit of responsible conduct and they don’t just control their media message well, but ensure they are honest with their customers and stakeholders. One mistake and you will reailize huge damages that no CSR campaign will be able to fix. Learn from the infamous mistakes of Volkswagen and BP and avoid a repeat. After all, we are talking to technologically and social media savvy generations and it is easier to lose their trust than to gain it.
By Stanislava Burianek, Associate Account Director at Active (Digital. Marketing. Communications)