As the largest consumer generation alive today, millennials account for over $1 trillion in consumer spending in the US – and around $10 trillion globally – so it's not surprising their purchasing priorities merit close scrutiny.

Indeed, new research notes that millennial consumers want more than just good products: they want brands that make a positive difference. 

A white paper from global quality control and compliance specialist AsiaInspection (AI) suggests an overwhelming majority of millennials are ready to switch brands for a more sustainable option, and over half are willing to pay more for ethically sourced goods. 

It also suggests millennials strongly believe that corporations should actively address numerous social issues, both within their supply chains and outside of them; and that businesses with transparent CSR policies usually have good rapport with millennials, and vice versa. 

Among the '5 reasons why millennial-focused brands cannot afford to ignore social responsibility,' are the following factors: 

1: Millennials are a huge group with growing purchasing power
Also known as Gen Y, millenials (typically defined as those born between 1980 and 1995) are the largest generation alive today – accounting for 1.8bn globally. Millennials account for over US$1 trillion in consumer spending in the US alone and around $10 trillion globally.

2: Millennials hold brands to a high standard of social responsibility
Social responsibility plays an important role in millennial buying habits, with 87% of the consumers more willing to purchase products with a social or environmental benefit. Typically, millenials do not hesitate to switch brands in favour of those they consider more ethical.

3: Millennials care about multiple social issues
Compared with other generations, millennials are concerned with a higher number of social issues including economic development, poverty and hunger, the environment, human rights and education. Growing up in an era of unprecedented globalisation and child labour scandals, millennials' expectations are that companies should solve social problems, not make them worse. In fact, 86% of millennials expect that companies must do more than make a profit, but also address social and environmental issues.

4: Millennials are willing to pay more for ethically sourced goods
Research shows millennials will pay more readily for ethically sourced goods, with half seeking out products with social responsibility benefits and choosing them over unethically produced goods. Millennials are also more likely to leave a brand after learning about its unethical conduct.

5: Social media gives millennials massive influence on other buyers
The defining attribute of millenials is their use of technology and social media, with about two-thirds using social media to engage companies on social issues. Not only do millennials make decisions based on social media perceptions, but they can also use social networks to directly confront a company about irresponsible practices. Indeed, 26% of them take to social media to share negative information about companies that fail to live up to their commitments.

"The majority of millennials reject the idea that businesses only exist to make money. They want to see corporations harness their power for the betterment of the world," says Sebastien Breteau, CEO of AsiaInspection. "Any brand that wants to win millennials' business must put a focus on transparency and social responsibility in sourcing."

Research earlier this week noted that many retailers fail to understand not all millennials are created equal, and that depending on lifestyle and life stage a range of factors are responsible for driving purchases.

Age not the only way to connect with consumer