Millennial Americans, those born between 1981 and 1996, are now the consumer demographic with the greatest spending power. They are a generation that grew up surrounded by rapid technological advancement and came of age at the start of the social media era. They are more likely than previous generations to be multicultural, tech-savvy, and socially engaged. Now, their preferences are shaping how brands market to and communicate with their target audiences.
Perhaps this shift is most obvious when it comes to food. Most millennials grew up eating processed foods and were children at the height of fast food’s prominence, gleefully collecting Happy Meal toys and making friends at the adjacent indoor PlayPlace. However, as young adults, they were the recipients (and sometimes engineers) of the changing trends toward organic, local, unprocessed food. Today, the primary value that millennials prize when eating is transparency.
The New Year is a time to reflect over the progress we’ve made in the last year and prepare ourselves for the opportunities and challenges of the year ahead. With all of the uncertainty and volatility in our news cycle, it can be tough to narrow our focus. I find that setting simple, achievable goals helps make even the most “unsolvable” problems seem within reach.
With that in mind, I’d like to close out the past year and begin the new with a simple question: How can we do better in our sustainability efforts?
Richard Edelman, a leading expert in public relations and marketing, recently gave a speech at the University of Notre Dame addressing the crisis in consumer trust. His firm, Edelman, is a long-standing chronicler of consumer trust in institutions including business and government (we’ve covered past Edelman Trust Barometer results on our blog). In 2017, their global survey found that “trust is in crisis around the world” with trust in media and government reaching record lows since before the Great Recession of 2008.
The results for 2018 offer little hope for rebounding from the previous year. The most recent Trust Barometer “reveals a world of seemingly stagnant distrust” as “people’s trust in business, government, NGOs and media remained largely unchanged from 2017.” What the survey does offer, alongside Edelman’s recent remarks, is a potential way forward for those companies seeking to re-earn and re-establish the goodwill of their consumer base.
My wife and I are big fans of Rev. Rodger Nishioka, an astonishingly bright man. We love his insightful and perceptive approach to examining the big issues of our day. The opening sentences of Rodger’s recent note have been on my mind since I first read it. He wrote:
Hermeneutics. It means “interpretation.” I like to think of hermeneutics as a set of lenses through which each person views the world. Hermeneutics, or how we interpret the world, shape everything. The truth is each of us have multiple hermeneutics. We view the world through a complex combination of lenses. Some of my lenses are male, fourth-generation American of Japanese ancestry, single, mid-westerner (that is the newest one and I am still growing into it) and educated (some might say over-educated?!)