As we hit the end of October we are firmly in the 7th month since the UK lockdown was put into action. During those 7 months we have discussed a range of topics to help businesses not just survive but grow during the pandemic.

We’ve covered topics such as returning the right staff to work at the right time, supporting home working, securing a regular cashflow, building a business for speed, and which industries have done well from the pandemic which your sales team should target.

A recent survey of over 27.5K Millennials and Gen Zs might have uncovered the next potential area for business growth however.

The Milliennial 2020 Survey

The survey conducted by Deloitte uncovered the generation’s preferences for sustainable products and services. It won’t come as a surprise to many that these generations were looking for sustainable products before the pandemic, but to come out the other side and still hold these beliefs is worthy of note.

It’s actually reaching a tipping point where to not be seen as sustainable will cost you more than the effort of becoming sustainable. In fact 42% of Millennials stated they had chosen to purchase a product or service because they perceived it to have a positive impact on society or the environment.

Some other key points from the survey include:

  • Both generations said they’ll make a special effort to more actively support businesses—especially smaller, local sellers—after the pandemic
  • They won’t hesitate to penalise companies whose stated and practiced values conflict with their own.
  • Nearly three-fourths said the pandemic has made them more sympathetic toward others’ needs and that they intend to take actions to have a positive impact on their communities.
  • Close to half (48%) of Gen Z and 44% of Millennial respondents in the primary survey said they’re stressed all or most of the time
  • While long-term finances are a top cause of stress, more than half of Millennials, and nearly half of Gen Zs, are saving money and could cope if they unexpectedly received a large bill

What is telling here is that whilst they feel stressed by current events, it has not dampened their desire to help others. If anything it has actually increased it. This desire appears to not only extend to their communities, but also local businesses by prioritising them over larger competitors.

How to become sustainable

Many businesses operate on a short term, quarter-to-quarter focus. This is a culture that will need to change in the drive for sustainability. Businesses will need to start planning for the next 10-20 years to create a vision on how the company needs to adapt. This might seem like an impossible task, but once you have this rough vision in place you can create mini ‘sprints’ for the next 3, 6 and 12 months that move you towards your longer term goal.

As part of these shorter term goals, you will need to look at your current teams and identify the missing skills that will be needed on your journey. This will open up opportunities for existing staff as well as new positions to be filled, but also a realisation that not everything needs to be done in-house. This is where partnerships with likeminded businesses will become key.

The Bottom Line

Millennials are not just decision makers in their own lives but are an increasingly aging generation that continue to populate senior positions in the businesses they work for. This means both product and service based industries need to adapt now if they are going to be well positioned to attract future customers.

Whilst the road to sustainability might take some time, the need for it is only going to increase as Gen Z ages and moves into the positions Millennials once held. For businesses that start adapting now, they will not just see immediate benefits as these generations search for early adopters, but long term ones as they steal a march on slow footed competitors.