When it comes to voicing opinions around social issues like climate change, no generation is more prolific or as passionate than Millennials. Whilst many generations before them have laid the groundwork and set the precedent for in-person demonstrations, Millennials have changed activism in their own right by bringing it to an environment where they are most comfortable and most present: social media.
The last 10-15 years has seen the rapid and widespread increase in public awareness, conversation and action surrounding our individual impact on the environment; the narrative that we need to be more eco-conscious in the battle for preservation is all around us. You only have to look at the recent success of sustainable brands like KeepCup and Patagonia, or even simply the societal shift away from unsustainable (and now taboo) items like plastic straws and bags in cafés and supermarkets. Notably, this 10-15 year timeframe correlates with the explosion of social media – a place where more than 90% of Millennials are active, and a place that facilitates the spread of ideas, information and resources more easily than ever before. Recent studies have actually indicated that more than 55% of social media users utilise these platforms as their main source of news, information and current affairs over more traditional news sources.
This spread of information and shift in collective mindset has created a generation of people who desire sustainability in mainstream culture. A generation who feel as though they have no choice but to be actively engaged in order to drive change. A recent study showed that 87% of millennials “believe that companies should address urgent social and environmental issues”, and are happier to spend more to support companies who operate sustainably. Naturally, being ‘actively engaged’ means different things for different people. For some, it’s simply following people or influencers that promote sustainable lifestyles, products and practices on platforms like Instagram, while other, more economically privileged millennials happily take to spending more to buy better or less harmful products (despite being a low-earning generation in comparison to the baby-boomers). Others go as far as to boycott brands or days that spruik consumerism and unsustainable practices, like Black Friday.
Brands are now acutely aware that if they want to drive positive brand perception and sales, they must be engaging in sustainable practices – and, of course, letting people know about it. They have realised that consumers are now deeply critical and incredibly well-informed about the products they buy, and so engaging in a technique known as ‘Green Marketing’ has become the new norm. ‘Green Marketing’ is not a new concept. Like traditional marketing, green marketing aims to connect with the consumer in a meaningful way. It asks them to believe in their products and most importantly, to believe that sustainability is as much an ongoing journey as it is a destination. It means informing customers on where their products come from, how they’re made, who made them and how the product can be recycled at the end of its lifespan. This is largely done over social media, through brands organic and paid channels – but recently most notably through influencer marketing.
Brands who want to keep up with the growing consumer interest in sustainability are now partnering with creators to share their message – also known as influencer marketing. By integrating a brand’s products or services into the aspirational accounts that Millennials feel they have a genuine, relatable and reciprocal connection to, the endorsement gives a brand more credibility than can often be achieved through an advertisement or social media post from their own account. Regardless of if a brand’s image is one of sustainability or not, running social campaigns that recognise the widespread shift in consumer attitudes towards sustainability is a must. However it’s not as simple as choosing a creator and watching the money flow in – choosing to partner with creators who genuinely understand sustainability, but also reflect the brand is important. The best creators a brand can use to voice their sustainability message are those who can share their experiences and point consumers in the right direction, whilst also being authentic and fallible too. Think brands like Mecca Cosmetica, Jurlique, Patagonia or Seed & Sprout Co, who utilise both their organic socials, and engage in influencer marketing to position their brand as sustainable, aspirational and appealing to the ever increasing market of eco-friendly consumers.
In 2021, being a brand that operates sustainably is no longer a ‘nice to have’, a secondary priority or a ‘bonus’ for consumers – it’s absolutely crucial to business success.
And we can’t see that changing any time soon.
Check out our favourite Aussie sustainable influencers below: