Consumers are increasingly considering the social, environmental and political implications of their actions. This coincides with growing awareness of the pressing issues facing humanity, through programs such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed to rally collective action to address the world’s greatest challenges. From climate change and ocean conservation, to poverty and education, the obstacles we face are daunting. The result? Conscious consumers.

The next generation of consumers is growing up in an era of free information, where the perspectives and insights of millions are just a hyperlink away. Today anyone with wifi access can learn about the issues that plague humanity. This is fuelling conscious consumerism, with 91 percent of millennials switching brands to benefit a cause they believe in. Fast on their heels, Generation Z is poised to become a massive source of revenue, in the realm of $150 billion, and if the recent surge in youth protests in the last year is any indication, they are just as socially and environmentally aware as the preceding generation – if not more so.

Conscious consumers know the marketing game, increased access to information means that they are knowledgeable about the tactics that are typically employed to manipulate the masses. In essence, consumers today, especially younger ones, have an enhanced BS detector, and with knowledge comes power. It is no longer brands telling people what they want or need, but consumer demand driving the market. So how do brands connect with this new breed of conscious consumers? They key is to lead with authenticity. We’ll leave you with five rules to consider when defining (and living) your brand’s purpose:

  1. Be informed on the issues impacting your audiences, communities, and company stakeholders: Brands must have an authentic connection to an issue and be ready to react to them. Consumers will want to know why your company is trying to advance this issue and believe your connection to the cause is sincere.
  2. Lead with your values and live by your purpose: Ensure all stakeholders are aware of and in alignment with your values and purpose
  3. Know which causes are (and are not) appropriate to champion: It’s critical that brands align with issues that make sense for their business. Companies getting involved in a cause must do their do diligence to represent it and advocate on its behalf from a place of respect and integrity
  4. Articulate your impact inputs vs. outputs: track and measure your impact. Consider the impact you’re hoping to achieve and set a starting point to benchmark against
  5. Have fun with it: social impact comes in many shapes and sizes. Your company’s values should be lived day in and day out