What Conscious, Millennial Consumers Really Want, and How to Give It to Them
If you're a sustainable business owner, gaining the trust of this consumer base should be your top priority.
Most brands just want to sell. They want profit, fame and the six-figure business, but they forget the most important thing: having a purpose to make an impact. They’ll do anything to get your email and bombard you with words telling you why you need things until you finally purchase while feeling miserable or anxious that if you don’t buy, you’ll lose out on something.
But if you’re reading this, it means you care. It means you’re probably starting (or already have) a business that does things differently.
What is a conscious consumer?
Conscious consumerism is not a trend. It’s the new way of consumption. Especially since the rise of millennials — who are more selective about the brands they choose to wear or to bring into their homes.
Millennials believe in their individual power to drive change, and according to a survey from Deloitte, over 44% of them have made choices about their work based on personal ethics.
A conscious consumer is more likely to reject a job offer, say no to a Black Friday sale or simply not follow a brand that doesn’t align with their ethics. They research before buying anything and are willing to wait, or even pay more, to spend their money where they think they are driving change.
Sustainable consumption is the future
Over the past couple of years, sustainable consumption has grown, which means that we can’t look at it as a trend or something that will go away. However, you do need to be very careful about greenwashing, which means claiming you’re sustainable when you’re not, because this could truly hurt your brand if you don’t have a solid sustainable marketing strategy.
Related article: 4 Ways to Avoid Greenwashing a Sustainably-Minded Brand
What conscious consumers really want
As a conscious millennial consumer, I can tell you that we’re tired of the same old sales urgency. In fact, sometimes we ignore it. We know what we want. We don’t need brands telling us that we are not good enough, or that our lives are not perfect.
Many conscious consumers are mindful, thought leaders and educated people who look for something when they need it. We look for solutions to help us remain balanced, centered and feeling complete, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel complete.
When we look for a brand, and our values align, it’s like the beginning of a love relationship for us. We become so loyal to a brand that goes an extra mile to drive change that we share about it on social, we talk about it with our friends and family and we spread the word about our conscious consumption because we feel like a part of the change.
Here's what conscious consumers really want.
No fluff, no lies, no blurbs without details. We want the facts. The nitty-gritty data. The pictures of the artisans you help, the sustainability reports listed on your website, the carbon footprint offsets you are trying to address. The factories you work with, and the picture of your production partners.
The list of BIPOC employees, the commitment to your fair wages. The video testimonials of the people that you impact. The true cost of your product (even with your markup) so that you can let us decide if we want to spend $100 on a cotton tee.
We’re not afraid to get to know you. We want to be obsessed with your sustainability efforts, and we probably know that it takes a ton of effort. We understand that pursuing sustainability is not an easy path and that you won’t be perfect. We get it. But we want you to keep trying every day to drive change.
Commitment to brand values
Your values are your soul. Like I mentioned before, conscious consumers pursue living their lives driving change, so when we find a brand is contradicting the values they say they pursue, we get mad.
Don’t make us mad. Instead, focus on defining what core values you can adhere to that will define your brand's personality and transparency efforts. And when something goes wrong, don’t hide or ignore it. Remember the first principle (transparency) and tell us what you’re doing to improve.
We want to consume only what we need
Conscious millennial consumers don’t need to be told what we need. We need to understand what your product or service can add value to our lives — which are probably already valuable and centered.
Most of us don’t fancy a huge house, a massive wardrobe, and expensive gadgets. We don’t really care about society’s opinion about the stereotypes of what a perfect life looks like. We are even keen to try out meditation, mindfulness and minimalism.
With this in mind, gaining the trust of a conscious consumer requires a deep understanding of who we are, and why we care about the brands we support.
Related article: 3 Reasons Why No One Will Buy From Your Brand in 2030
No one’s perfect. Sustainability is a journey, and you need to take it one day at a time or you’ll lose your mind.
I suggest you follow these tips to make sure that you build a sustainable business step by step without being overwhelmed.
Listen before launching your next product
Yes, as a business owner your goal is to make money. However, when you learn to listen to what conscious consumers really want, you can learn to build a more profitable business.
This could mean raising your prices and making sure your storytelling enables the higher prices of your products. This could also look like adding new lines of business like a subscription model to enable circular consumption, recycling packaging, you name it.
Reverse engineer your content marketing message based on your “why”
Your purpose is the reason your sustainable brand will start to grow. You need to make sure your marketing message is clear and concise across all your channels.
Focus on intentional promotion and educating your conscious consumers about how to make the most out of their purchase, how to reduce their consumption habits and how to build a long-term relationship of trust with your brand.
Make them feel better about themselves — it’s that simple.
Never stop telling your story or journey
Your story is yours to tell. No one else can tell it for you. But you need to highlight it. Showing that you’re just a human being who started an incredible project that now transcends is so powerful.
The more you show how human you are, with the wins, the losses, the mistakes and the learnings, the more you’ll be continuously building trust with conscious consumers.
Related article: How to Tell Your Brand’s Social Impact Story
Sustainable storytelling can help you connect with conscious consumers
There will be good and bad stories down the road. You need to be patient. Maybe you’ll have one, two or even three years of losses before you actually get a return on your investment. Or, you could be lucky and have a quick turnaround if you partner with the right people who can help you along the way to make sure you have success.
Include your story everywhere you go. Never forget your purpose. Remember why you started and pat yourself on the back when you’re having a bad day. We’re not perfect, and nor will your brand be. But don’t be afraid to show the bad side too.
This will enable you to connect at a deeper level with your audience. It’ll show that you don’t care just about the sales or monetary aspect of what you do, but that what you do matters and changes lives.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor