Marketing to Millennials
Marketing Social Media

Marketing to Millennials? Support a Charity, and They’ll Support You


With Thanksgiving well in the rear-view, the eyes of American consumers have turned expectedly toward Christmas’ strange mix of shopping and charitable well-meaning. Between the allure of increased holiday spending and the reality of likewise increased ad spend from most of one’s competitors, it’s a rough time for marketers: Amid all of this, marketing to Millennials can appear to be one of the most hotly competitive segments to target. On one hand, this group has now surpassed Baby Boomers in size and continues to grow in buying potential, while on the other, they don’t appear to be all that good at spending money.

But should a brand bet increased ad spend and content on this active, and highly-coveted market?

One creative answer to this question has come to light recently, thanks to a study from Achieve, that has found Millennials to be a particularly active force when it comes to the spirit of giving. Analyzing activity during this past #GivingTuesday event, Achieve found that Millennials not only engage more with brands that pursue charitable efforts, but even throw themselves into promoting the effort themselves.

The Findings and the Followers

While very specific in terms of scope, the study revealed some interesting behavior. The event, #GivingTuesday, is seen as a response to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals following Thanksgiving. It’s a strong tactic for many brands, one that earns goodwill for a brand, opens up potential partnerships with like-minded organizations, and improves visibility through the network of the charity’s being supported. But beyond this, Achieve also found that brands were able to return higher levels of engagement and interaction, specifically from Millennials, during this event, by engaging them in the promotion process to help support what is seen as charitable giving.

Marketing to millennials is a strategy that

In contrast, some brands use charity as a way to encourage brands to reduce cost, in return for improved visibility, quantity of purchases, and other benefits. Humble Bundle is the perfect example of this, having built a popular distribution model for all sorts of digital goods (video games, audio books, eBooks) by allowing purchasers to decide not only their price, but how much of the price goes to a charity, to product owners, or to Humble Bundle itself. In this, impulse buying is encouraged both by the price point and the added benefit of putting the consumer’s money to good work.

How to Make the Most of a “Good” Brand

With all of this in mind, there are a few things that brands can do to improve their marketing to Millennials through giving:

  • Provide Narrative Context: It’s not enough to just say what foundation your brand is benefiting—welcome your audience into the experience. Look at the way TOMS tells stories about the countries it supports, sharing photos of the children it helps; this is just one example of how a brand, both in reality and presentation, becomes a true part of the charitable process.
  • Turn Impulse into Justification: Finding ways to tie your giving directly to transactions can encourage your audience to make buying decisions they might not otherwise, if only to take part in the charity experience you’re offering.
  • Make Giving Pervasive: It’s not news to anyone that Millennials engage on social media, but relegating your giving to just a set of landing pages or social media campaigns can come off as disingenuous to people who investigate your brand further. Find ways to incorporate your giving, if only temporarily, into every aspect of your brand’s presentation.

Even if your brand isn’t looking to build the infrastructure necessary to do massive fundraising for a foundation, just adding the idea of giving back to your efforts can both improve how your brand is perceived, while also reaching your audience in ways that aren’t affected by increased ad spend or Christmas fervor. The most important part is engaging in a real narrative—find charities that fit with your brand and that you can tell stories about from your website to your social media, and you’ll find younger audiences will start telling the same story too.

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