Is your business millennial ready?

by Chris Fairbairn

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

The biggest consumer group demands more from your firm. This Scottish PR agency says: it’s time to listen

Blog post image of avocado toast to go with feature - as our Scottish PR agency asks: Is your business millennial ready


MILLENNIALS get a bad rap. 

One minute they’re being accused of blowing a potential house deposit on avocado toast. The next, they’re being repeatedly referred to by the old guard as the “snowflake generation”.

Name-calling and sweeping judgments aside, the reality is that they are making up increasing numbers of your customers and senior colleagues – and your future prosperity is in their hands.

They have profoundly different opinions on how your business should be run, so perhaps it’s time to look beneath the surface and try to understand what makes millennials so unlike the preceding generations.

Forged in the Internet Age 

Denoting anyone born between 1981 and 1996, most millennials in the UK have grown up entirely in the internet age, putting information that previous generations couldn’t begin to imagine at their fingertips.

Although we’re only just beginning to wrestle with the true socio-political impact of the web, it is beyond any doubt that it has had profound and far-reaching ramifications – impacting on practically all aspects of our daily lives.

For the first time ever, a generation has been able to easily research what is going on in the world, form cogent opinions, find others with that same viewpoint – and speak out and mobilise when they feel something isn’t right.

HPR stock image of a tablet, laptop and phone. Taken by Seb Regnier Scottish PR agency

Demographic changes 

While the internet may be the big hammer that has moulded the millennial personality, it isn’t the only societal influence to play a major role.

Millennials make up the UK’s biggest consumer group, they live in an ageing society, with a great deal of political power and wealth in the hands of the older generations (just look at the make-up of parliament and the disparity in voting patterns during the Brexit referendum).

Not only that, huge numbers were encouraged into further education, arguably becoming more enlightened. It has been widely-claimed that millennial’s are the most educated generation to date.

So how has all this impacted their habits? 

It is perhaps because of all of these factors that millennials would appear to simply care more. They respond to businesses if they have a strong purpose and will no longer accept a firm that is willing to sit on the sidelines.

Essentially, you have to stand for something – or what is the point?

Most firms are missing the mark with their messaging. According to Deloitte’s most recent millennial survey, a minority believe businesses behave in an ethical manner – and a damning 62% feel that businesses have no ambition beyond making money.

The now renowned Edelman trust barometer is the go-to for understanding changing consumer trends.

It reports that “purpose-driven businesses need to involve millennials in the process by demonstrating how their business addresses the problem, why it matters and what they can do about it.”

We can see for ourselves how big brands have visibly pivoted towards more purpose-driven campaigns, with examples that fight discrimination including Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ and Nike’s backing of the Black Lives Matter movement fronted by Colin Kaepernick.

Taking a political stand is equally important – evident with Airbnb’s commitment to housing 100,000 refugees – or the CEO of Patagonia even bidding to sue Donald Trump for reducing the size of two national monument in Utah. The latter’s website homepage even opened with plain white text on a black background, stating “The President Stole Your Land”.

If (even) multinational brands are willing to get off the fence, it is because they are finally realising that increasingly powerful younger consumers need to see positive change – and it needs to be communicated effectively.

This is a powerful lesson for Scotland’s organisations – especially those that still put CSR and public relations near the bottom of the boardroom priority-list.

Meaningful CSR

PR photography for launch of CALA Homes £10,000 community bursary

CSR has to be done properly, or your audience, whether millennial or not will see through it.

We helped our client, CALA Homes (East) set up its first community bursary, a £10,000 fund made available to good causes in East Lothian. A successful media partnership and a carefully managed campaign resulted in a huge success – with 129 good quality applications received thanks to a groundswell of positive media.

The bursary reflects the developer’s commitment to responsible development, giving back that bit extra in communities they are closely involved in. It even closely involves the local partner news outlet in the panel. The initiative has been such a success that this year will see it rolled out in three regions in the east of Scotland.

Read more about the success of that initial bursary here.

Employers take note

Millennials expect more from business and their scepticism to business-motives is reflected in how they view their employers. Deloitte reports that “Companies that are perceived to be fixated on profits, do not engender loyalty.”

According to Edelman, 67% expect their employers to take action on societal issues, which is nearly as high as expectations of personal empowerment (74%) and job opportunity (80%).

The data is backed up by the length of time that an employee is willing to stay at a firm too – with millennials frequently reporting that they would look to move on from a business in two years – unless it stands for something they believe in.

The signs could hardly be clearer. Business needs to change how it acts and how it communicates – and it needs to do it fast.

So next time you hear a friend or colleague calling out millennials for their spending habits or perceived flakiness, remember this: They are the most enlightened, most ethically-conscious consumer group despite power, politics and wealth being skewed against them.

And they will make or break your business.

Looking for a Scottish PR agency to help address your business challenges?

We can help you tell your stories to key audiences – boosting your brand and empowering your teams, millennials included.

To get in touch, simply call 0131 561 2244, or use the form below:

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message


Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

View Chris's Profile

Related Posts

So how can we help?

Benefit from business video

Benefit from business video


Find out how affordable video can bring a host of benefits to your business.

Make an impact with PR photography

Make an impact with PR photography

Find out more

Every story can be told better with pictures. Discover our affordable, high-impact photo packages.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact us.


Keep ahead of your opposition by getting the free tips, insights and secrets we share for businesses. Straight to your inbox, every month.
Email address
First Name
Last Name