VMSD - October 2015 - (Page 4)
Why retailers should pay attention to the burgeoning
generation of generous consumers.
speaking at the 2015
Will millennials prove to be the "next greatest generation" of Americans, the most narcissistic, or both?
The topic makes for great cocktail fodder. (I lean toward the "great, but not quite as magnificent as the one
that fought in World War II" camp.) Two things that few question: The children of millennial parents look
to be the most socially responsible generation in history. And within five years, they and their parents will
represent the largest and most critical demographic for retailers to reach.
So why isn't our industry doing more today to engage these young consumers in terms they know and
understand - through brand propositions that speak not just to their purchasing power, but their ideals? This heady topic was tackled by Christian Davies in the closing keynote at last month's International
Retail Design Conference in Austin, Texas. In one of the most
moving, thought-provoking presentations I've seen, Davies
systematically built the case for emulating the activism of these
soon-to-be-most-valued consumers. Not with passive support
such as cash contributions and BOGO donations, but through
genuine and direct acts that leverage the assets unique to each
Davies threw down a gauntlet early in his session when he
noted that out of all the major design conferences in the U.S.
and Europe in 2015, only one presentation addressed the topics
of overwhelming concern to younger consumers - sustainability and climate change. ("You're sitting in it," he said wryly.)
The notion that these issues aren't driving enough discourse in
our industry today is inarguable. For further proof, consider the
roundtable discussions that were held in the same ballroom where Davies spoke: More than 35 topics
were offered to attendees when they registered for these interactive idea-sharing sessions, yet among the
400 attendees, only two selected "sustainability." The topic was ultimately pulled.
Davies lauded retailers that are setting excellent examples of altruism: Panera Bread and its Panera
Cares program which feeds hungry people within each participating restaurant; Unilever's Project Sunlight, addressing 150 environmental initiatives; Timberland, which offers up to 40 paid service hours to
its employees and boasts an amazing 80 percent rate of participation; Luxottica and its famous OneSight
non-profit organization, which has enabled more than 9 million people to obtain eye care; Walgreens and
its Net Zero Energy program; and most profoundly, Marks & Spencer, with a host of activities too extensive to detail here. All give testament to what can be, but too seldom is, accomplished.
The speech was met with a prolonged standing ovation. Coverage on Twitter and other social media
sites was still trending a week later, at this issue's press time. By the time you read these words, the video
highlights of the session will be accessible from vmsd.com. Davies lit a spark in Austin, an image captured
perfectly in the first slide of his presentation. Now it falls on us to fan that flame.
If you weren't in Austin, we invite you to watch the video at vmsd.com/GenerousBrands.
Senior VP Content
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - October 2015
VMSD - October 2015
From the Editor
Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
Hong Kong Hallyu
Everyone’s Eating Out
Old Meets New Down Under
VMSD - October 2015