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Cause Marketing and Millennials

In April 2012 the Boston Consulting Group released its study called “The Millennial Consumer: Debunking Stereotypes” which found that for many in this generation causes and cause marketing is an important and animating force.

In the United States Millennials…aka Generation Y… now number 79 million. Compare that to the 76 million Boomers still alive. Millennials are defined as the generation between the ages of 16 and 34.

BCG subtitled the report ‘Debunking Stereotypes’ because Millennials are often portrayed as being shiftless, lazy and spoiled. The word cloud at the left from BCG's report gives you a sense of that.

But BCG instead finds a generation that… while it has a healthy self-regard… is nonetheless responsive to the needs of causes as they fulfill their missions and to the practice of cause marketing.

Here’s some key findings:
  • Of the 34 percent of Millennials who make direct donations to causes, almost half donate using their mobile device. That’s three times the number of non-Millennials who will donate that way.

  • “Millennials believe that working for causes is an integral part of life, and they drawn to big issues. Instead of making one-off donations in cash of in-kind, they’re more likely to integrate their causes into daily life by buying products that support sustainable farming or “fair trade” principles, or by joining large movements that aim to solve social or environmental problems.”

  • Millennials are more likely than non-Millennials to engage their favored causes by persuading others to join them and actively participating in fundraising.

  • Millennials are more likely to participate in transactional cause marketing by purchasing items associated with a cause, 37 percent versus 30 percent.

  • Millennials expects causes and companies to collaborate and “will reward those that partner with the right causes.”

  • Millennials are slightly more like than non-Millennials to volunteer their time 31 percent versus 25 percent).
BCG did the study because Millennials are like a sorta like the python that swallowed a small deer; they’re going to be with us for long while. And they’ll help define the United States for the next fifty years, much as the Boomers have for the last 60 years.

That Millennials like and appreciate good cause marketing bodes well for causes, companies (and cause marketers)!


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In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

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