CPG Marketing Trends: Millennials Support Causes They Believe In

Millennials engage more actively in cause campaigns compared to non-Millennials, which is not surprising, given that they prefer brands that reflect their style or personality. Thirty-one percent volunteer their time, 37% make purchases to support causes, 30% will work to encourage others to support a cause, and 27% participate in fundraising events.

Although they are less likely than older generations to make direct monetary donations, when they do donate, they’re more than twice as likely to do so via text.

Some cause campaigns have more awareness among Millennials than older generations, and vice versa. Yoplait’sSave Lids Save Lives” (a legacy campaign), as well as Nike/The Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG and Pepsi’s “Refresh” (both youth-oriented), scored much higher among Millennials than non-Millennials in this study.

Long-standing campaigns such as McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House, General Mills’Box Tops for Education,” and Avon’sBreast Cancer Crusade” scored highly among both Millennials and non-Millennials, but the older generations had a much higher overall awareness of all three of these campaigns compared to Millennials.

Millennials are much more likely to hear about cause campaigns via online sources than non-Millennials. For the younger group, social media (40%) is second only to television advertising and promotions (45%) for learning about corporate cause programs.

It’s important to make sure your cause campaign aligns well with your brand and is transparent about its goals and achievements. While the majority of Millennials are optimistic that companies and individuals together can make a much greater social impact than individuals alone, others are more cynical and believe that cause marketing is a ploy by companies to get them to buy their products or services.

Insights in this article are from research conducted as part of a joint partnership between BarkleyService Management Group and The Boston Consulting Group.


Brad is an expert in private label and challenger brand food marketing for Barkley, an integrated marketing and advertising agency. He specializes in working with manufacturing-driven food companies that have aspirations to develop a consumer insight-led strategies to help drive innovation and growth.

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