Saturday, November 7, 2015

Business Execs: 3 Tips to Engage Millennials

“I’ll have my sandwich with a side of social impact, please.  Oh, it comes with social outcome metrics?  Great….I’ll take two.” 

As a business executive, you need to know  that today Millennials are demanding products and services that provide a positive social impact and are rewarding the businesses who offer this value.  And it’s not just through the sandwiches they buy, but also through the financial investments they make.  This is called impact investing.  Millennials want to buy from and invest in businesses they know are making a difference in the world.  And yours can be one of them. 

As a marketing professional with a decade of experience in the social change movement – and a Millennial myself – I write this blog to help you filter the buzz around social impact investing and cut to the chase.  What do you really need to know?

Millennials want to use their money to help others
Millennials grew up with social media, global online platforms and advanced technology that has allowed them to be more connected than ever before.  This has allowed them to have a deep understanding and awareness of global cultures, relations, and tensions.  Now more than ever, Millennials want to see - and be part of - positive social change.

According to Motif Investing, 69% of Millennials feel investment decisions are a way to express their social, political and environmental values.  This is important because this year is the first year that Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers and become the largest living generation.  This means investment companies are expecting a significant increase in impact investing.

Investment management companies are measuring social outcomes
To accommodate Millennials, financial planning and investment management companies are seeking out more options for impact investing.  Just last month, the world's largest money manager BlackRock, Inc. rolled out its first impact-labeled U.S. mutual fund.  To determine which companies are socially-conscious, BlackRock (and others like it) have created algorithms “to identify investments and track outcomes.”  They look for attributes such as high employee morale, meeting sustainability requirements, and conducting research around public health.

Three tips for business executives
This trend has taken off and can only grow larger, as Millennials earn more money and an even more tech-savvy generation follows them.  As a business executive, here are 3 things you can do to stay on the cutting edge of this trend:
1.       Understand your target audience – Conduct market research to better understand how your target audiences feel about social impact
2.       Measure social outcomes -- Begin to measure the social outcomes of your business
3.       Incorporate social impact -- Consider what it would take to incorporate social impact into your business model (Example: Make it organic and locally-sourced ingredients on that sandwich)

Start small.  Start simple.  But start now.  The most successful businesses are sure to be the ones that can innovate and help change the world.  Yours can be one of them.

About the Author: LuCinda Hohmann is a communications professional with expertise in public relations, marketing, and consulting for business and non-profit sectors.  She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications with Medill at Northwestern University. You can follow her on Twitter @lucindahohmann.

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