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Stakeholder Trends and Insights
The 5 Types of Millennials and How to Engage Them on Climate Action

In the lead-up to COP21, the UN conference on climate change, we asked our global community of Millennials at how they feel about climate change. 250 Millennials (18- to 30-year-olds) from Canada, China, Denmark, India, Poland, United States, United Kingdom and beyond shared a remarkably similar voice: They are deeply concerned about the climate, disappointed in our collective past behavior and desperate for change.

Their responses echoed the findings from MSLGROUP’s 2014 survey of 8,000 Millennials across 17 countries: Millennials hold businesses responsible for implementing solutions.

Over the last few weeks, Millennials shared that they demand BIG actions from business – they want to hear more about better and cleaner products and want businesses to take a more sustainable approach in their operations, innovations, packaging and investments.

Most of all, Millennials want businesses to partner with governments to address climate change. With regional and global media shining the spotlight on individual countries’ climate change commitments and business leaders’ stance on this issue, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Millennials want to see collaboration amongst these two important stakeholders.

When it comes to climate change, there are – broadly – 5 types of Millennials. Here’s how businesses can engage with them.

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When we asked our community of Millennials what emotion they feel when thinking of climate change, they shared a diverse range of answers. Across the 75 shades of emotion they shared, five clear themes (and takeaways) emerged.

  1. Millennials are AFRAID – they are worried, nervous and uncertain about the future.
    Climate-anxiety appears to be very real among this group, with several Millennials sharing that they feel panic, nervousness and angst when they think about the climate. On the other end of the spectrum, several Millennials expressed confusion and uncertainty.Take-away for businesses: Simplify communications around this complex issue, and engage Millennials around the potential to make a positive change, together.
  2. Millennials feel FRUSTRATED – they are angry and annoyed at perceived inaction.
    Their frustration stems from a perceived lack of action – especially in countries where solutions are within reach. As Sara, 24, from Denmark remarked: *“It's so easy to do something - so why on earth do politicians and companies have to make it so hard?”*Take-away for businesses: There’s an appetite for more information on climate action. Now is clearly a good time to start talking about your initiatives and contributions to solutions.
  3. Millennials feel RESPONSIBLE - they are sad and disappointed, but also ashamed and guilty.
    They feel responsible for the current state of our planet. In fact, half of the Millennials we heard from believe that change starts with them personally and they seem ready to act with their wallets.Take-away for businesses: Millennials are thinking more and more about the implications of their everyday habits. They want to hear about businesses’ better, cleaner products and they want business to innovate and change the way they operate to deliver on this.

[I'm] shocked that the things most of us don't even think about can have such a huge impact half way round the world! -Elena, 19, UK

  1. Millennials feel POWERLESS in the larger scheme of things.
    While they are ready to be the chance for change, several Millennials admitted that they feel helpless, defeated, resigned and paralyzed – the impacts of climate change seem “unstoppable.” It’s no wonder they have high expectations of businesses and governments.Take-away for business: Demonstrate the value that Millennials can deliver, as customers, employees, individuals and as a whole.
  2. Millennials also feel HOPEFUL.
    They believe this is our greatest opportunity for *“innovation, collaboration and the establishment of a real global community,”*in the words of one Millennial from Denmark.
    Others view it as a last resort. As a Millennial from Malaysia said, “We cannot live happily when seeing our own house are being burnt *(sic)… I do not want to feel sick anymore.”*Take-away for business: Involve young adults as your citizen partners, make them a part of your journey, and provide ways for them to make a meaningful difference.

Most of all, this generation is impatient. We want businesses to implement big solutions and we want them to do it now. We no longer have the opportunity to pass this problem on to a future generation.

For more insights into Millennials' expectations and how you can engage them around climate change, read MSLGROUP’s "A Chance for Change - The Tipping Point for Business Sustainability," and follow @BetheChance on Twitter, where we will be sharing the voice of Millennials in the run-up to and during COP21.


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