It’s Cause-Related Retail for Most Millennials

September 23, 2015       Andy Segedin      

Millennials are more likely to take to the store aisle, social media and volunteer action to support corporate social responsibility (CSR) than the general U.S. population.

Some 91 percent of Millennials indicated that they would — price and quality being similar — switch to a brand associated with a cause as compared to 85 percent of the general population, according to a survey by Boston-based Cone Communications. And, 66 percent of the Millennials surveyed said that they use social media to engage around CSR, with 53 percent of the general population doing the same.

Other key findings from the survey include:

* 82 percent of Millennials will tell friends and family about CSR efforts. The U.S. average is 72 percent;

* 70 percent of Millennials will voice their opinions to a company about its CSR initiatives as compared to 60 percent of the U.S. population;

* 74 percent of Millennials will volunteer for a cause supported by a company they trust while 56 percent of the general population will do the same; and,

* 62 percent of Millennials, versus 56 percent of the general population, will take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.

Though 93 percent of Millennials feel better about companies after learning about their CSR efforts, the means in which companies are successful in reaching them varies from the general population, according to the survey. Millennials see advertising as a less effective means of obtaining CSR information than the general population, 11 percent to 17 percent. Instead, they value alternative methods, such as videos compared to the general population 36 percent to 29 percent, infographics 26 percent to 16 percent and games 15 percent to 8 percent.

Millennials also differ from one another in values and behavior depending on age and gender, the survey indicates. Young Millennials, ages 18 to 24, are more likely than Millennials ages 25 to 34 to consider CSR when deciding where to work, 82 percent to 75 percent, and engage around CSR efforts with social media, 73 percent to 64 percent. Older Millennials are less likely than their younger counterparts to have purchased a product with a social or environmental benefit over the past 12 months, 57 percent to 65 percent, or believe that they can make a significant impact through purchases, 25 percent to 36 percent.

Female Millennials are more likely than males to seek out responsible products whenever possible, 86 percent to 76 percent. Millennial males prioritize data compared to stories more than females, 30 percent to 18 percent.

“Millennials have come of age, into the shopping aisles and the workplace,” Lisa Manley, executive vice president of CSR strategy for Cone said via a release. “This hyper-connected generation is consuming media at an unprecedented pace. With social and environmental issues constantly in their social media feeds and inboxes, they simply can’t ignore how their decisions impact the world around them.”

The 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study was conducted by Ebiquity from Feb. 18 through March 6 with a random sample of 1,003 adults ages 18 to 34. To view the full report, visit

  • advertising
  • corporate social responsibility
  • CSR
  • Millennials
  • survey