Millennials Going Green Means Retailers Must Follow

(This article was originally written by Dayana Cadet for Total Retail).

Today, there are over 92 million millennials in the U.S. alone, spending about $600 billion each year. In a world where trust has become a form of currency, and with this generation’s socio-civic beliefs leaning more heavily towards environmental initiatives than ever before, businesses are feeling the pressure to adapt both in their social and environmental practices.

Retailers have become aggressive in their efforts to leverage environmentally-friendly brands in a bid to improve performance, better their reputation and cushion their bottom lines. As an example, the term “non-GMO” has seen an 82 percent increase this year on, becoming the top search by retailers looking for greener products to stock their shelves.

This tell us that brands are at a particular advantage: consumers are demanding sustainable products, and retailers are scrambling to meet the demand by carrying eco-friendly brands.

Understanding How Millennials Think

Despite having less overall brand loyalty than baby boomers, there’s one thing that can almost guarantee millennial consumers will come back every time — the green movement. Studies show that 45 percent of millennials said that they could be swayed to purchase products from companies committed to helping the environment. This is true across all product categories, including pet, apparel, beauty, and, of course, food and beverage.

Millennials are dedicated to wellness — not just for themselves, but for the planet as well. In fact, 54 percent of them believe they’ll make a significant contribution to better the environment. Unlike their predecessors, it’s not just a passing thought, but something that touches every aspect of their lives, defining which products they will or won’t consume. As a result, they place a higher value on brands and retailers that clearly align with their overall lifestyle.

“Brands that establish a reputation for environmental stewardship among today’s youngest consumers have an opportunity to not only grow market share but build loyalty among the power-spending millennials of tomorrow, too,” says Grace Farraj, senior vice president, public development and sustainability, Nielsen.

Indeed, 76 percent of millennial consumers think more highly of companies that help them support causes they care about. And keeping in line with their mobile-first mind-set, 69 percent of them have posted about their favorite causes on social media — great news for craft brands wanting to build awareness.

Gives Brands the Ultimate Advantage

To put it simply, if you want millennials to buy your product, they need to buy into your brand story first. As quick as they are to rave about their favorite eco-friendly brand, they can just as quickly and easily sniff out when “going green” is just a ploy to get at their wallets.

However, as much as millennials are leading the world of retail to greener pastures, brands have a say in it as well. Consider that 86 percent of millennials want to learn about relevant environmental issues directly from a brand itself, creating a new opportunity to engage consumers through education. In fact, we see this in the eight out of 10 millennials who correlate their purchasing decisions to the responsible efforts a company is making. This attitude bodes well with up-and-coming craft brands as well — 73 percent of millennials are willing to try a new, unfamiliar product if it supports a cause, with more than a quarter willing to pay a higher price when a product is associated with a good cause.

Millennials have changed the retail landscape in many ways. While adapting to their ever-changing needs can seem daunting to an upstart brand, these consumers are uncompromising when it comes to their values. The best thing a company can do is understand that and quickly adapt.