The millennial generation is a wily bunch! (Trust me, I’m one of them.) They are restless, always on the move and usually looking for something new, exciting and adventurous. If they aren’t running amuck in Thailand or backpacking through Europe (only to come stateside and talk your ear off about every “unique” experience they had...like I did) we are moving up and down and left and right in their job. And our spending habits are all over the place too. What exactly we want in a product, service or brand is also challenging to pin [wrestle] down. But one thing we’ve (WebPunch that is) found that is pretty consistent with millennials is that they like companies with a business model that involves giving back; it’s a great way to celebrate your customers because it’s their purchase that is making a change.
Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, make up about 25% of the country’s population or about 80 million people. It’s estimated we will spend about $200 billion a year starting in 2017 and $10 trillion over our lifetimes— that’s just in America.
We may be traveling the world, living in apartments, and fleeing commitments or long-term jobs right now, but when the millennial generation comes to age and really starts looking at making those big purchases like a home or starting a family, you bet we will be scrutinizing our purchases just like we scrutinize the shoes we wear. Companies that provide handymen, outdoor and home services as well as experiences for our kids will be in high demand when the millennial generation settles down. And we won’t be choosing based on just brand. We will be looking at which brands celebrate their customers by how they give back. It’s just another way you can celebrate your customers.
I’m not talking about giving back to the consumer; we don’t need more things (though we could probably use more digital information or more Facebook likes!).
I’m talking about celebrating your customers, particularly your millennial customers, by giving back to those who need it most! These days, however, it’s more than just donating to charities. Millennials look to businesses that have philanthropic efforts integrated into their core values and are integral parts of them doing business—we want to see businesses focused on things other than profit.
A couple of examples:
Tom’s Shoes “One for One”
Founded in 2006, Tom’s Shoes is a leader in capturing the millennial crowd because corporate responsibility and giving back is a foundation of their business through their One for One model. The One for One model means every pair of Tom’s we buy, the company donates one to someone in need. Further Tom’s seek out areas that need the donations most.
Warby Parker “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair”
In 2010 Warby Parker, an eyeglasses manufacturer, launched their campaign “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair.” Every month the company tallies up the number of glasses sold and then they donate an amount to its non-profit that covers the cost of sourcing the glasses. The nonprofit also trains men and women in developing countries to conduct eye exams and sell the glasses at an affordable price.
Hand in Hand Soap “Buy a Bar, Give a Bar”
This company produces organic, fair trade liquid and bar soap. It was founded specifically to combat deaths from water related illnesses because the founders learned that 45% of those deaths could have been prevented simply by washing their hands. So, for every bar or bottle of soap you buy from Hand in Hand Soap, they donate a bar and clean water to children in developing nations.
Fluid Coffee Bar “Sustainability Menu”
You don’t have to go the “one for one” model either when celebrating your customers by giving back. A coffee shop right here in Denver has their own program where customers can choose from a “sustainability menu.” For example, if a customer uses an in house mug instead of a paper cup, a nickel is donated to the community partners fund. If a customer uses their own mug instead of a paper cup, they get ten cents knocked off the price and a nickel donated. It sounds small, but it adds up. Every quarter, the shop is able to donate hundreds of dollars to local nonprofits they have built a relationship with.
If your business already donates, maybe reconsider that process because it can be used as both a philanthropic way to celebrate your customers as well a way to get new customers. Think about an organization or cause that aligns with your company's service or product. Once you’ve picked a place, figure out ways you can donate to them and develop a process around that. Maybe it’s everytime a customer makes a purchase or a new client is onboard. Whatever the way, we, millennials, want to feel like and actually be a part of the charitable process.
Donate local or go far. Do one for one or something else. Whatever it is, think about how to give back when you’re considering new ways to celebrate your customers.
Perhaps you own and operate a heating and cooling business. Celebrate your customers by donating five dollars of every house call towards helping warm the homeless in your community. Maybe your company sprays for bugs. Celebrate your customers by providing Malaria treatment to a child in Africa with every new customer. Or if you own a retail franchise, celebrate your customers by donating a shirt to the Salvation Army down the street everytime a customer buys one. Maybe you sell school supplies. Celebrate your customers by donating a penny per pencil sold to an educational nonprofit.
You don’t have to set out to change the whole world; we’re not talking about going bankrupt. We’re talking about using your business as an agent of incremental change by incorporating thoughtful processes of giving back to causes that are important to you and your customers. Celebrate your customers by thinking outside the dollar sign by making them a part of the change you, your business, and your customers want to see.