Why and How Businesses Need To Partner With Millennials, To Better Manage Resilience, Relevance & Resonance in Troubled Times

Jun 16, 2014 11:10 AM ET

Why and How Businesses Need To Partner With Millennials, To Better Manage Resil…

By Pascal Beucler, SVP & Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP

On June 3, MSLGROUP revealed some key findings of the survey conducted in 16 countries, interviewing 8000 millennials to explore and understand what active citizenship means to them at the Sustainable Brands 2014 Summit in San Diego. Both global findings and country per country insights are very interesting. We wanted to explore what active citizenship means to Millennials across the globe:

- What do they want it to stand for? What does it actually mean to/for them? What resonates? What doesn’t?
- How does this differ by country?
- How will this change in the future and impact businesses?

This is crucial for the short-term (the system is at stake) and even more so for the near future: Millennials will represent 70% of the workforce in 15 years from now. They already play a growing political and economic role today. They’re fully empowered by the digital & social reinvention of everything. Disintermediation, our new norm, is a given for them: day after day, they develop their own ecosystem, based on collaboration, peer to peer information and decision-making processes, sharing and accessing, more than owning. Businesses need to catch up, transform, and partner with people, if they want to survive.

Moving From The Old-Fashioned CSR Mindset (A Constraint) To Active Business Citizenship (A Strategic Move To Reposition Business At The Heart Of Society)

Here are some of the key “big” global findings, which work equally for Asian, European and American Millennials, particularly the Younger one, beyond local nuances:

  • They say they need (not just want) businesses to get involved in societal issues
  • The say they care about micro-issues, here & now, not large and vague macro issues
  • They want businesses to focus on people’s issues that businesses can impact and solve – not issues that are important to them only
  •  Active citizenship is being purposeful – not simply just about giving
  • Millennials personally get involved when they think they cause an impact, and they expect businesses to involve them, through nextgen “Citizen Partnerships”: it’s a two-way approach.

Many of the findings are disruptive: Younger Millennials really are « Game Changers », quite different from their elders, with a « fresh » vision on business and Citizenship. In many ways, probably because they spent half of their young life in a world where tough crises dominated, they are « post-ideological », pragmatic, action-oriented folks. And from this standpoint, many of the survey’s findings represent highly actionable insights and foresights for brands and corporations. This might also be the way to restore some sort of trust in business and leadership.

Managing Resilience, Relevance & Resonance

If you’re a corporation or a brand, and want to appeal to the majority, then you should focus on what is really important to them, in a context where Younger Millennials expect businesses to contribute to making the world a better place.
Resilience is top of the agenda: the capacity for businesses to help the world (and themselves) recover quickly from current difficulties and tough times is what young people are closely looking at.

If you want to be perceived as a game changer, then you should get involved in the areas that they want to see change the most. It’s not just what you want, it also has to be what they believe in.
Relevance is critical: if you’re not where they expect you to be, you’re nowhere.

If you want to do good, and be considered a good Citizen, then you should not only focus on theareas Young Millennials want businesses to focus on, but also act in a way which is coherent and consistent with their vision and values.
Resonance is crucial: this is what makes the difference today, creates the conversation and helps tell a story that matters to them.

Designing A Road Map To Business Citizenship Today

A priority for the times to come is to design a roadmap for business citizenship which includes actual partnerships with people and communities :
- How to connect – and often re-define – Purpose and Citizenship?
- What could be the areas of opportunity for the brand/corporation, given its purpose and the Millennials’ expectations?
- Which form of partnership could be offered to them?
- What should the action plan be, for the next three years or so

A MAP: where to be ideally, that is the sweet spot where the corporation or brand vision and values closely meet people’s expectations?
A ROAD: how to go there, and how long should it take? And this should of course be done in light of the following.

Check out our latest infographic: Are You Ready For Business Citizenship?