Millennial Minute: The Global Emergence of Socially Conscious Consumers

July 12, 2016

Millennial Minute

If you want to market to millennials, there’s one cliché-but-true proverb to keep in mind: “Think globally, act locally.”

Regardless of where we live, we tend to think of ourselves as global citizens. Our social media friends across the world are just as real and valuable to us as the people next door (if not more so). Our values and concerns when shopping are just as global. We favor companies that are ecologically conscious, and we think about how our choices affect the world we all live in.

More importantly, our values define us more than our demographics. We identify with people who share our outlook on life, our priorities, our goals, without putting too much emphasis on age or nationality.

And we’re not alone. Young & Rubicam just released a report on an emerging demographic they’re calling "Generation World" or "Gen W." With my trademark millennial efficiency of speech, I call them “Dubs.”

This generation is unique among demographics in that it crosses boundaries of age, race, and nationality. And while dubs exhibit many characteristics usually attributed to millennials, there’s more to this strange new demographic than that. Here are a few key findings from the study:

1. Gen W Is Highly Social

Dubs view social media as a natural extension of their social life, not a separate entity. Eighty-three percent say social networking sites are important to stay in contact with friends and family. Only 53% of the general population make the same claim. Over half say that social sites are their first channel for sharing personal news, compared to about a third of the general population.

Since they value social networking, it makes sense that dubs are early adopters of new technology. Sixty-three percent said friends would describe them as into the latest tech, versus 46% of the general population.

2. Gen W Is Globally Conscious

Marketers know that millennials prize authenticity and tend to align with eco-conscious, globally responsible brands. You can find that ethos in dubs as well. They aren’t afraid to spend money—67% love to shop, and 63% say they are willing to pay more for quality and performance. But it’s not just the finer things in life that inspire a purchase.

Sixty-four percent say they are willing to pay more for products that contribute to their local community. Fifty-eight percent are willing to pay more for eco-conscious products, and 64% are willing to pay more for organic. All in all, dubs are twice as likely to think globally and act locally when they shop.

3. Gen W Transcends Age

Hypersocial, loves technology, shops with their conscience—all of these attributes are typically used to describe millennials. But the most significant finding of the study is that dubs can be found in every generation, from Gen Y to Baby Boomers.

Y&R cites a study from Crowd Companies that looked at usage of “sharing economy” platforms like Zipcar, AirBnB, and Kickstarter, companies expected to appeal almost exclusively to millennials. Crowd Companies found that 48% of the people using these platforms were indeed millennials, but 33% of were 35-54, and 19% were over 55.

It turns out, you don’t have to be a millennial to think like one. Which means that when you market to millennials, you’re appealing to a broader demographic than you might imagine.

So keep Generation World in mind as you craft your messaging—remember your audience is globally aware, locally focused, and willing to reward brands that share their values.

To learn more about who millennials are, what we value, and how to reach us, download The Millennial Playbook.