Millennials Say They Let Their Money Talk When It Comes to A Company’s Ethics

June 4, 2019

Millennials spend about $322.5 billion annually, a strong figure but one that’s less than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. What may set Millennials apart from those other two cohorts is that they are more apt to let their purchasing dollars speak for them when it comes to a business’ environmental impact or ethical behavior, according to this year’s Global Millennial Survey [download page] from Deloitte.

The study shows that for Millennials (defined as being born from 1983-1994), corporate social responsibility (CSR) cannot be an afterthought. Of the more than 13,000 Millennials surveyed for the report, about two-fifths (42%) reported that they have started or deepened their relationship with a company because it has products or services that positively impact the environment or society. On the other side of the coin, around 4 in 10 (38%) have stopped or lessened their relationship with businesses that have products that negatively impact the environment or society.

Aside from the products themselves, the ethical behavior of a company also matters to Millennials. Some 37% say they have stopped/lessened their relationship with a company due to its ethical behavior, while 36% say they have started/deepened their relationship with a company for this same reason. This is not lost on business leaders, with a large majority agreeing that acting ethically will ultimately bring them more business and revenues.

There are some factors that make Millennials more likely to start or deepen their relationship with a company than to stop or lessen it. These include an advertising campaign the company has run (28% vs. 20%) and the diversity among its leadership team and diversity policies or behaviors (23% vs. 17%).

However, the differences are starker when looking at the reasons why Millennials would turn away or lessen their relationship with a company. Some 31% of respondents say they would stop their relationship with a business due to the amount of data it requests from them (compared to 19% who would start or deepen a relationship with a company on this basis). Millennials are also more likely to have a negative than positive response to behavior or comments of a single company leader and to a company’s position on political matters.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of Millennials, companies are missing the mark. While Millennials think businesses should be achieving things like producing high-quality goods, generating jobs, improving the livelihoods of their employees and improving society and the environment, more than half say that they think what businesses are actually achieving is generating profit.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: The 2019 report is based on the views of 13,416 millennials (born between January 1983 and December 1994) questioned across 42 countries and territories, and 3,009 Gen Zs from 10 countries.

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