by Matt Alderton | November 28, 2018
If you want your company to survive for the long haul, it's going to need not only its existing customers, but also a whole crop of new ones. To get them, it needs to appeal as much to future executives as it does to current ones.

Unfortunately, the traditional way of reaching prospective customers -- advertising -- won't work on young professionals.

"Ad-blocking is becoming the new normal," reports U.K.-based guest writer Kian Bakhtiari, who says more than 12 million people are currently blocking advertisements in the United Kingdom alone. "Unsurprisingly, the highest rate is amongst 16- to 24-year olds. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this behavior is only going to rise with the emergence of a digitally native generation that expects to control every aspect of their online experience."

So if advertising won't help you appeal to the next generation, what will?

"Instead [of advertisements], young people are choosing to engage with the brands that share their values and beliefs," Bakhtiari says. "In fact, 64 percent of consumers around the world now buy on belief. At the same time, one in two will choose, switch or boycott a brand based on its stand on a societal issue … In this new age of information, it's no longer enough to communicate a message, in the hope that it will resonate. To remain relevant, brands need to talk less and do more for people and planet."

It's not just about doing what's right for humanity, however. Equally, it's about what's doing right for the bottom line.

"Research carried out by Havas shows that meaningful brands have outperformed the stock market by 206 percent over the last 10 years. Enlightened brands recognize this reality and are transforming their entire modus operandi to meet young consumers changing expectation," Bakhtiari concludes. "You only have to look at Adidas's pledge to use 100 percent recycled plastic by 2024, Unilever's mission to improve health and well-being for more than 1 billion people and Ikea's ambition of becoming climate positive by 2030. The results are also clear to see: Adidas sold 1 million shoes made of ocean plastic last year, Unilever's sustainable brands are growing 50 percent faster than the rest of business and Ikea has seen sustainable product sales grow to a cool $1.9 billion."

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