Lab 2 – Accountability
Millennials is a generation of symbol consumers who choose brands on-and-off based on their ability to make it easy for the consumer to act responsibly. In our second workshop of Millennial Lab, our subject was accountability. We have investigated which demands Millennials require for companies and their dissemination of responsible projects and products. In interviews, debates and discussions we have had our focus on a critical generation whose consumption patterns largely follow personal attitudes and values.
Identity and symbol usage
Accountability is strongly linked to the self-perception of consumers, their image – their identity. It is about emerging as a reflected consumer who purchase on the basis of well-considered decisions. Every purchase must be able to be explained and justified. For companies, it is about giving the consumers the good arguments for this. 8.95 kr. for one liter of organic milk is a cheap price to pay to appear as a ‘climate conscious person’ who has their priorities in order. That the milk stands next to a non-organic / non-locally grown banana smoothie on the brunch table does not mean so much. To be responsible, one must prioritize.
“I have to have it (corporate responsibility) served to me on the package.”
It is clear that Millennials not only want to appear, but also largely want to be a responsible generation. But today it’s not just about saving electricity and turning off the tap when brushing teeth. No, it is more complicated than that.
The clothes may be second-hand, but what about the workers who are living of making new ones? Meat and vegetables may be organic, but what about those who cannot afford it? And is it better to support non-organic Danish farmers by common accord, or should there be eco-potatoes from Mallorca, which, on the other hand, are not locally grown? With all the choices, compromises are needed. In order to exist at all, one has to choose which responsible actions are best suited to their lifestyle. Here is a golden opportunity for brands to take market shares. It is about finding the gaps in Millennial’s consumption habits, which make it easier for them and offers a “tangible form of accountability”. Here, brands can be used as personal statements.
Caught in a Catch 22
Some will like to be informed and are searching for information about corporate responsibility before purchasing their product. But at the same time they are critical of any smokescreen in the form of “too pink campaigns” and “green label” diversion maneuvers. Likewise, many want to be informed through the media, but do not trust the media’s objective role.
Millennials would like to be informed, but they do not necessarily trust the information.
Where does that leave companies?
One answer can be concessions and humility. There is broad consensus that companies will make it a long way with honest dissemination. Either they must respond promptly to bad cases in the media or the solution may be to be 100 percent honest about their CSR projects and products. The role of companies acting as responsible front-runners is met with both goodwill and skepticism. It seems that there is only one safe way forward, and it is transparency and humility.Millennials have no doubt high ambitions to be the generation where social and climate conscious responsibility is a natural part of our everyday lives. On the other hand, they are put to the test in a world where consumption is increasingly important in the creation of an identity.