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Next Generation Looking for Corporate Responsibility

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If you've been monitoring what women look for in a brand, you've long since addressed their interest in your corporation's social responsibility. If you've been a bit slow on the draw, however, the word is now out. Today's college students are judging both possible future employers and the brands they buy based on such things.

So, it isn't just a "woman's thing" or a passing fad. Consuming generations to come are staying on a path women have been forging - and they are all watching what goes on behind the corporate curtain.
A MediaPost article by Allie Savarino cites the "2007 Most Desireable Undergraduate Employers" study by Universum Communications, where the"...'top 25' list of most popular employers includes some non-commercial organizations known for their public missions, like the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and the State Department. Most, however, are big and for-profit; Google, Goldman Sachs, and Walt Disney dominated the list. Still, corporate social responsibility figured prominently in these rankings."
Where these students want to work also gives clues to their buying behavior, not surprisingly. Savarino's article also points to a 2006 study by Alloy Media and Marketing and Harris Interactive which showed that "college students rank social responsibility higher than celebrity endorsements as factors in their choice of consumer brands. Some 33% of about 1,800 respondents say they prefer brands known for involvement with not-for-profit causes, community activism or environmentally friendly practices."
The world isn't getting any less abundant, and women, in particular, are experts at sorting out all the details to make purchase choices that reflect their beliefs and overall high standards. Author Daniel Pink thinks A Whole New Mind (book title as well as concept) with more "R-directed Thinking" ("an attitude to life that is characteristic of the right hemisphere of the brain - simultaneous, metaphorical, aesthetic, contextual, and synthetic") is what our conceptual age demands of each of us. This way of thinking may tend to come more naturally to women, but college students (perhaps since they were raised by holistic-minded moms) also seem comfortable with giving more weight to non-linear facts as they look for work and brands to buy.
Would you care for a few more insights into how all consumers will be making decisions in the future? Gather a few of your female customers around and let them point the way.

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Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.

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  • by Lewis Green Thu May 17, 2007 via blog

    Andrea, Right on! I've included this information in my upcoming book. Why? Because as marketers we need to understand what consumers expect from businesses. And before people become employees and forever after they take a job they are consumers. As I've said before (sorry for the redundancy), we don't sell products and services, we sell value, trust and credibility (brand with a human persona.). Brand is based on perception. We better know how that perception comes about.

  • by Elaine Fogel Thu May 17, 2007 via blog

    Coroprate philanthropy is exploding today, and you're bang on, Andrea. This ties in with an article I wrote for MP back in November. It's based on a national study entitled, "The 2006 Cone Millennial Cause Study." Check out the stats.

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