SPOTLIGHT: Millennials inspire capitalism with a conscience


At a handful of Panera locations, down-and-out folks pay only what they can afford. Nordstrom recently opened a test store where all profits go to charity. Starbucks has three coffee shops where a big chunk of the money made helps people in need.

This isn't capitalism gone crazy. It's capitalism with a conscience.

For decades, this kind of corporate kindness was the exception, but in the past few years, dozens of America's biggest brands have embraced socially kind deeds as an unusually effective way to sell themselves to consumers, employees, even stockholders.

Some are listening to their hearts -- while others are listening to social-media chatter and creating consumable spin. In either case, there is one particularly desirable audience that's watching closely: millennials. This trend-setting, if not free-spending, group of 95 million Americans born between 1982 and 2004 live and breathe social media and are broadly convinced that doing the right thing isn't just in vogue, but mandatory. USA Today story