The millennial generation is one that marketers are constantly trying to reach out towards, largely because they’re the driving force behind many of today’s trends.
Although we might not always realise it, the market is largely trained on the younger end of the spectrum, when it comes to technology, food, travel and of course, fashion.
The fashion industry has started taking some interesting turns as a response to the millennial market, but perhaps not in ways that you might initially think.
As Forbes has pointed out, millennials are the pioneers of the go-green revolution, which has seen all kinds of companies adopting more environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.
This is true when it comes to things in consumer goods like food and beverages, think for example of fair trade coffee and chocolate. But, millennials are also starting to look for a transparency in the supply chain of their clothing and accessories, as well as an authenticity that isn’t necessarily fulfilled by standard fashion on the high street.
Having said this, this demand hasn’t reached a large scale yet, possibly because there is a lack of information about supply chains and the people who work for clothing companies.
In the 1990s Forbes points out that although many people were outraged about the amount and impact of sweatshops, very little of this anger translated into real change.
Currently, the millennial consumer is in what Dara O’Rourke, founder of GoodGuide and member of Amazon’s sustainability dream team, calls the pre-awareness stage. This is basically that they know that something is going on and they need someone to guide them in the right direction to know how to make a real difference.
Essentially, the care and the interest to do something is there, but knowing what to do is the difficult part.
Forbes itself has outlined three ways that millennial consumers are now being inspired to find ways to transform the fashion industry, making it and its buyers much more conscious.
The Prius Effect and social influences
The Prius Effect was arguably first written about in 2011 by Freakonomics and it states that conservation can be a conspicuous choice.
What we mean when we say this is that someone who chooses to buy a Toyota Prius, might not necessarily be making the choice as a reason to be environmentally friendly, but instead they will buy the car to be seen to be being someone who cares about their green credentials.
Of course, this isn’t just limited to the Prius, but it’s one of the most clear examples that Freakonomics talks about regarding people’s willingness to pay for environmental bona fides.
When it comes to accessories, something similar might be Matt and Nat handbags, which labels itself as vegan leather. Although there are many different types of vegan leather and various companies who make them, Matt and Nat, as a designer label, makes some of the very best vegan leather.
There’s a level of social standing that comes as part of this too, if you’re going to buy vegan leather, then it’s going to be designer. If you’re going to drive an eco-efficient car, it’s going to be one of the most recognisable brands.
None of this is bad for the environment in fact, overall, it’s excellent for sustainability (and for cows) but it also plays into the millennial consumer attitude perfectly of having something to show off about in front of their peers.
Creating positive emotions is important
Shopping consciously is something that has to be driven by positive emotions, shaming people into buying sustainable clothing will not work.
If you do this, you’re likely to turn people off your product entirely and instead, they’re going to want to spend their time mocking people who do shop sustainably.
Instead, Forbes recommends that those who have environmental credentials at heart need to make their potential customers feel empowered. This is one of the main drivers that motivated a millennial to do anything.
Millennials have grown up in a world where the whole world is accessible through a tiny computer that they can walk around with in their hand all the time. There is basically nothing that can’t be found, or a person who can’t be reached thanks to smartphones.
As such, reaching out to millennials on the platforms that they and their friends use is the perfect way for you to interest them in your message and your product.
For example, Fashion Revolution started a hashtag campaign in 2015 called #WhoMadeMyClothes? to get people thinking and talking about the people who make their clothes and where they come from.
Unfortunately, lots of brands are struggling to answer the question, #WhoMadeMyClothes? so therefore how are consumers meant to know?
By empowering consumers to ask these questions and post on social media continually asking brands where their clothes are made, they are creating a demand to shop responsibly and treat workers and manufacturers fairly.
Behind the barcode found that 48 per cent of brands hadn’t traced the factories where their garments were made and 75 per cent don’t always know where the fabrics for their clothes come from.
However, by posing questions to the millennial consumer and asking for them to demand more transparency, big brands and retailers are now working to become more sustainable ahead of the game.