Gen Z and Sustainability

Known for being the “TikTok Generation,” Gen Z is the generation born after 1996 and have never known a world without the internet. Most of Gen Z came of age during the global COVID-19 pandemic and some say they are the “most disruptive generation ever.” Their collective income is expected to reach $33 trillion by 2030 and surpass that of Millennials the year after, and your main college-age customer base!

College students care about important social issues such as racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and sustainability and climate change. Stores will find that striving for authenticity and ethical products will attract this generation of shoppers. Here are some facts about Gen Z and their desire for sustainability.

Sustainability as a Main Issue

According to a global study, Gen Z prioritizes climate change as the third most pressing issue currently. Compared to older generations, with only 51% of baby boomers sharing this view, significantly more young people care about their purchases being sustainable and eco-friendly.

Sustainability vs. Brand Names

Gen Z prefers to buy sustainable brands, in fact most are willing to spend even 10% more for a sustainable product versus it’s cheaper alternative. Gen Z shoppers consider sustainability to be more important than brand names, and they have even begun to influence previous generations as well, with nearly 90% of Gen X consumers being willing to spend 10% extra or more for a sustainable product, compared to just 34% in 2020, and a 30% jump in participation from Baby Boomers.

Sustainability After COVID-19 Pandemic

Coming of age during the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly influenced Gen Z. For many, the pandemic taught people to do less, spend less, and waste less. People have adapted to working from home, ordering cleaner products, and considering their personal impact on the environment. Although people cared about sustainability before Covid, the pandemic certainly brought it into focus for much of Gen Z. In fact, according to a study at the end of 2019, Gen Z demands sustainable retail, making most of their purchasing decisions based on personal, social, and environmental values.

Sustainability and Social Media

Gen Z is the most active generation on social media, and the online landscape shows how much Gen Z cares about environmental awareness. The hashtag #sustainability has over 12 million posts on Instagram and #thrifttok videos are trending on TikTok and YouTube.

The Bottom Line

Gen Z is known for caring for climate change and sustainability, and your store will benefit from stocking eco-friendly products for Back-to-School shopping. For a list of products you should carry, check out this article.

What sustainable products are you stocking? Let us know in the comments!


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