Creating Social Change With A Click

Teens OnlineIf you ever thought Millennials were lazy, think again! They’re globally connected, thanks to social media, and have more resources than ever to make a difference. It’s what “making a difference” actually means to these consumers that needs to be understood.

Digital natives are using technology as a tool to have their voices heard, and to inspire change. From creating online campaigns about causes they believe in to taking political action via social media, they’re shaping culture and proving their power as future leaders.

Gen Y grew up being praised and told that they could do anything. This confidence has its benefits in making them feel empowered and inspired to share their voice. Yes, they're less likely to write letters or organize in-person protests, but they’re changing the system for contemporary culture. A trend we’re seeing in teens is they’re drawing on the power of their peers online to make a larger impact.

Recently, 13-year-old McKenna Pope created a petition on Change.org, expressing her frustration that Easy-Bake oven isn’t marketed to males. She was upset about the message this sends to kids if the toy comes only in pink and purple and features only females on the packaging. In highlighting the importance of this issue, McKenna inspired 40,000 others, including celebrity chefs, to sign her petition. Ultimately, Hasbro invited her to its office and unveiled plans for a black-and-silver Easy-Bake oven, which will launch later this year. But McKenna isn’t alone. She represents a growing number of teens and twentysomethings who are using the Web, and social media in particular, as a platform for good.

Last year, three teens from New Jersey created two petitions on Change.org, asking for the Commission on Presidential Debates to select a female moderator…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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