Reverse Crowdsourcing: How Millennials are using brands to make sustainability happen

by | Sep 14, 2017

Millennials are savvy. They get how the world works. Shelton Group’s latest special report explains how the most sustainably minded generation can also be one of the least likely to participate in simple daily actions that promote sustainability.

Since they represent the largest living generation of Americans (estimated at 29% according to the Census Bureau), any discussion of Millennials runs the risk of over-simplifying and under-rating them. How do you accurately generalize about such a big proportion of the population?

Millennials may puzzle previous generations, but here at Shelton Group, we recognize Millennials as being much like other generations, just with better tech and maybe a little more moxie. Millennials were lucky enough to be born at a point in history when science and technology transformed everyday society. Remember when phones went to a building instead of a person? For Millennials, cell phones have always reached people, not places. Millennials’ ever-present tech, from cell phones to social media, has allowed them to do what every generation has wanted to do: expand connections with others.

In our most recent study, Millennial Pulse, we see that Millennials are leveraging their resources in a way that may surprise you. In short …

You may think you’re crowdsourcing their intellects or their ideas, but did you realize Millennials are crowdsourcing you?

Millennials have figured out how to reverse crowdsource brands and companies to get done what they can’t get done by themselves. In other words, their form of environmental activism is not to take a lot of individual actions. Instead, it’s to consciously, conspicuously buy from brands and companies that they deem are doing the right thing for the environment.

This is a real opportunity for brands and companies to do some good while garnering the loyalty of the largest age cohort. Millennials get that big brands have the leverage they lack – the leverage of sheer size. And while 72% remain neutral to skeptical about the information brands say to them about the environment, 43% could name a brand they trust when it comes to what brands do for the environment and social/business practices. Millennials really do care about the environment, and they back that up with their purchase behaviors.

But here is the paradox.

They aren’t likely to do the little things associated with sustainability – bringing their own bags shopping, adjusting the thermostat or recycling papers. They have bigger ideas for a bigger impact.

Nearly two-thirds of Millennials look to companies to solve problems they feel they can’t address (or would rather not have to). Millennials are crowdsourcing you to accomplish their sustainability goals. If they truly trust your environmental and social/business practices, 90% say they will buy from your brand, and 95% will recommend your brand to their friends.

Download our latest report and learn how your brand can grow the trust needed to gain Millennials’ loyalty. After you read the report, let us know what you think – and how you’re going to leverage the insights for action inside your company.

About the Author

Susannah Enkema

Susannah Enkema

Susannah leads the research department in developing projects, and then in dissecting the findings and boiling them down to the most important insights that pave the way for smart marketing strategies and creative approaches. She works closely with the creative and account departments to offer ideas, support and information that help all departments meet client goals.

About the Author

Susannah Enkema

Susannah Enkema

Susannah leads the research department in developing projects, and then in dissecting the findings and boiling them down to the most important insights that pave the way for smart marketing strategies and creative approaches. She works closely with the creative and account departments to offer ideas, support and information that help all departments meet client goals.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and GreenBiz.com.

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Glen L. Vesser III

VP Finance and Administration

Glen manages Shelton Group’s finances and administration, ensuring our internal systems run smoothly so we can provide exceptional client service in a seamless and timely manner. Glen’s financial and administrative expertise has been shaped by decades of experience in a variety of industries, including public accounting, media distribution and health care.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.