Millennials’ consumption habits mirror those of the Woodstock generation: expert

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MANHATTAN -- "Millennials are actually a lot more similar to the generation of the '60s" -- this from John Barker, the CEO of Barker advertising and interactive.

The marketing executive is one of the top branding strategists in the nation and what he has detected about the millennials of today, is their preference to know they are doing something good as consumers.

"The thing to remember is that they want to make a difference. Millennials need to understand what role they can play in making the world a better place. It is very important to who they are," Barker said, in a recent interview at his Lower Manhattan office.

Barker adds millennials are far more likely to choose a company or product that they know is in line with their beliefs and that can ultimately make contributions that reflect them.

"Knowing that they are making a difference on top of getting the product they desire make all the difference in the world to them," Barker said.

And why is this?

Social media for one, as it allows for instant gratification as well reinforcement from friends. However, it also serves another purpose.

"I think that the digital world has reinforced the need for that instantaneous feedback and people want to be able to research everything, understand how everything works, and get it in real time."

While millennials are following the lead of one of its greatest innovators, Mark Zuckerberg, young businesses are making their contributions felt as well.

"We actually established that from day one when we decided to open up an ice cream shop, it was something we felt we had to do," said Mohan Kumar, the co-owner of Odd Fellows Ice Cream.

The award-winning ice cream shop has been serving up customers in Williamsburg and the East Village for the last two years, "We're confident in the quality of ice cream we are putting out. It's unique, it's creative, we have a lot of fun doing it."

The unicycle in their Williamsburg shop, along with clowns and of course their ice cream served up every way imaginable reflects this. However, aside from a message board reminding customers to think about giving back to the Food Bank for New York City, they also donate five cents from every scoop they sell.

"Every 20 cents we give to them provides a hot meal for somebody that needs it and so it breaks down to every four or five scoops we are providing somebody with a meal."

The reason for giving back? It's hyperlocal, according to Kumar.

The donations and results are seen in the community and as for the decision to partner with the Food Bank for New York City? It's was part of the business plan before their doors even opened.

"I don't think it was a difficult decision at all. I think it was something that we felt really good about. We felt confident in our business too that it would work and luckily knock on wood it has worked so far."

Kumar, who by the west is in his thirties, doesn't view his company's contributions as a generational concept, but rather a cultural tradition, "I actually think that it has always been a part of the fabric of the country to do something like that. I think it's just now more realizable because of social media and Facebook and things like that where it becomes recognized more."

Links to businesses practicing altruism as a way to attract millennial market:

Toms
http://www.toms.com/

Noon Day
http://www.noondaycollection.com/pws/homeoffice/tabs/home.aspx

Umano:
http://umano.com/

Sseko:
http://ssekodesigns.com/