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We have heard the jokes and seen the articles for long enough, endless headlines all saying variations of the same outdated view that millennials are lazy. Since the start, our generation has been considered careless and mindless, unbothered by anything that doesn’t include social media or sitting down. Being the generation that saw the birth of social media, it is considered our partner in carelessness. Yet little consideration is given to the fact that social media is a factor in the creation of an increasingly liberal and politically active body. You can call us lazy, but millennials are powerful, and here’s some news, we’ve grown too clever for mindless consumerism, forcing producers to become more ethical, more inclusive, and more liberal if they want our money.
You can say we spend too much time on Twitter, but the youth reaction on Twitter has become a weapon against companies not meeting the mark. April saw the birth and death of Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad, as millennials said no. Millennials said no to large scale, high-profit companies taking social injustices and current issues, and using them as quirky, relatable advertising ploys. The instant shock and backlash towards that advert just proves it. Our generation will no longer stand for advertising that doesn’t correlate with society and current social issues. We won’t accept adverts, or even companies, that don’t consider what’s going on. The millennial voice refused to support a company that saw no issue in using the #blacklivesmatter movement as an advertising tool when so far in 2017, over 180 black people have been killed by police brutality. And worse, they saw no issue in using a white woman as the protagonist in the narrative. Millennials wouldn’t stand for that, and the advert had to be removed. You can say we’re over-effected or offended by everything, but millennials are effective. It didn’t match our morals, so it was gone to prevent boycott.
And we can see it happening again with BooHoo’s recent #AllGirls campaign that features no plus size models, yet commercializes feminism. If your advert isn’t socially aware and inclusive, we don’t want what you’re selling. If you’re commercializing current social struggles, we will fight back. Millennials are refusing to simply turn off their morals in the face of consumerism and pay up, and the market is having to bend to that.
With millennials refusing to separate their beliefs and spending habits, companies are being forced to raise standards and become more liberal and thoughtful. With social media threatening the fast spreading of knowledge of any wrong doings, companies have to become more transparent. Millennials are spearheading a movement towards ethical consumerism in all aspects, using social media and Twitter campaigns as a powerful weapon creating real repercussions for a big industry that was once viewed as invincible. For example, circulating lists of companies that test on animals have forced large cosmetic companies to change their policies and has seen a huge profit increase for brands like LUSH who are clear and ethical in their practices. Fast-spreading news of ill-treatment of employees in sweatshop conditions even managed to knock Beyoncé, as many boycotted her Ivy Park range, in the wake of news that the garments were made by sweatshop workers earning only £4.30 a day. When millennials have the power to expose companies at any second, and social media has the ability to spread the news to millions, big businesses have had to change. Even supermarkets have to adapt to protect their profit, gained from the spending power of younger generations, by introducing more free form and vegan products. The last years have seen a 350% increase in veganism, with 42% of all vegans being between the ages of 15-34. The movement has the youth and social media to thank due to the swift spreading of knowledge and links to articles, videos, and documentaries. With a generation more attached to their morals than their money, supermarkets have been forced to invite veganism into their shelves, buying in alternatives and dedicating whole aisles to this youth-led change in society. When we see whole generations becoming more ethical and socially aware, businesses have no choice but to adapt.
But it’s not just politics; millennials are simply just too aware, and too thoughtful to fall for toxic advertising or companies that try to undermine them. Decades of beauty advertisements that play on and profit off insecurity and self-doubt simply just don’t work on us. Youth led movements like #bodyposi and Self Love Club that promote self-acceptance and loving your body regardless of media norms and expectations are challenging the beauty industry. Makeup and skin care adverts have been forced to take on a new narrative of girl power and feeling confident, and leave behind the old attitude of self-improvement through consumerism, and conforming to traditional standards of beauty. Self-confidence is killing off the traditional, passive aggressive side of beauty and forcing it to catch up, calling for more versatility and representation, inclusive skin tone ranges and the end of gendered advertising. Millennials expect industries to keep up, or they’ll leave it behind.
It’s happening in all corners. The young generation wants inclusion and full representation in every aspect; advertising, film, music, fashion, food. We want clothing that accommodates for all shapes and sizes, advertisements that are as aware as us, not that speak down to us, industries that keep up with society and adapt their morals and ethics alongside us. And if that isn’t done, millennials will give them the push in the right direction. When you see whole generations becoming more liberal, ethical and aware, businesses that no choice but to bend to that and adapt. The simple, daily online activism of the youth is creating waves in huge industries; ‘careless and lazy’ millennials are shaping business, demanding thoughtful and ethical consumerism, and in effect, challenging capitalism. We are too clever for the old tricks concealing bad practices, so we force it to change.