Gen Z and sustainability—how retailers risk losing relevance and market share
As Gen Z steps into its role as caretakers of the world, it is also tasked with confronting and healing the environmental legacy left by previous generations.
Our generation is growing up in a world reeling from climate change and contaminated with pollution and plastic waste—problems driving us to advocate for sustainability and seek solutions to protect our planet for future generations. We are deeply committed to creating a greener and more viable world.
In study after study, Gen Zers have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability, with a large majority not only worried about the state of the planet but already taking action to reduce their impact on the environment. We understand that if we do not begin taking action to protect our planet today, there may not be a tomorrow.
In fact, Gen Z has been named the most eco-conscious generation. We have an instinctive understanding of our role as human beings on Earth and are fully aware of our effects on the environment and everything connected to it.
As part of our quest to create a greener future, Gen Z is holding brands accountable for their impact on the environment. Sixty-two percent of participants in a 2019 First Insights survey prefer to buy sustainable brands—and 73% are willing to pay least 10% more on those purchases.
The report also found that Gen Zers (72 percent) and millennials (70%) are the most likely to make purchase decisions based on values and principles that are personal, social and environmental.
If brands want to connect with Gen Z, they must prioritize sustainability and communicate their efforts transparently. Gen Zers are looking for brands to take a leadership role in sustainability. According to IBM, 56% of Gen Zers believe that businesses should take responsibility for environmental issues, and 72% believe that companies should be held accountable for their environmental impact.
To remain competitive in the market and meet the evolving demands of these environmentally-conscious consumers, prioritizing sustainability is no longer an option—it's imperative.
Many brands commit to sustainability pledges, but don’t see them through. We value authenticity and expect brands to stand on their word. Gen Zers have made it clear we will not support brands who don’t practice what they preach.
Gen Zers prioritize authenticity, transparency and ethical business practices, making sustainability a defining factor in our consumer choices. Retailers and brands that fail to adapt to this shifting consumer landscape risk losing their relevance and market share. In response to Gen Z's demand for sustainability, many brands have implemented innovative strategies, such as sustainable sourcing, packaging and energy-efficient operations. They actively communicate these efforts through marketing campaigns, social media and transparent reporting, showcasing their commitment to a more sustainable future. Brands who do this have proven to be extremely successful, furthering increasing revenue and respect from Gen Z.
By aligning with Gen Z's values, retailers and brands can forge lasting connections with our generation, which appreciates initiatives that address social issues and contribute positively to the planet.
The future of retail and business lies in the hands of Gen Z, and by prioritizing sustainability, retailers and brands can lead the charge toward a more eco-conscious and responsible global marketplace. The collaboration between our socially and environmentally conscious generation and future-oriented businesses has the potential to drive meaningful change, creating a world that not only meets the demands of Gen Z but also ensures a thriving and sustainable future for generations to come.