According to a recent survey, 73% of Gen Zers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. This statistic reveals a significant shift in consumer behaviour and highlights the importance of sustainability in marketing to this eco-conscious generation.
As the first generation to grow up with climate change as a defining issue, Gen Z is deeply concerned about the environment and expects companies to prioritise sustainability in their business practices. As such, marketers must understand the values and preferences of Gen Z regarding sustainability to connect with this growing consumer group effectively.
In this blog, we’ll explore why Gen Z values sustainability and the benefits of incorporating sustainable practices in business strategies. We will also provide tips on effectively marketing to this eco-conscious generation. By understanding the values and priorities of Gen Z, marketers can build trust with this demographic and tap into a growing market of consumers who prioritise sustainability.
The eco-conscious generation
Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is the most diverse and digitally connected generation in history. They are growing up in a world of climate change, pollution, and plastic waste, and they are acutely aware of the impact that humans are having on the environment.
As a result, Gen Z has a strong commitment to sustainability, with 82% expressing concern about the state of the planet. They are willing to take action, with 72% saying they have already changed their behaviour to reduce their impact on the environment.
Regarding spending habits, Gen Zers are willing to put their money where their values are. According to a 2020 study, 66% of Gen Zers are willing to pay more for sustainable or environmentally friendly products, and 73% are willing to pay more for ethically sourced products.
In addition, Gen Zers are looking for brands to take a leadership role in sustainability. According to a report by 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 connect with Gen Z, brands must prioritise sustainability and communicate their efforts transparently.
Patagonia has made environmental sustainability a core part of its mission. It regularly shares information about its sustainability efforts on its website and social media channels. As Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, said: “The hardest thing we’ve ever done is take full responsibility for the entire life cycle of our products.”
The business case for sustainability
In addition to meeting the expectations of eco-conscious consumers, businesses can also benefit from incorporating sustainable practices into their operations. Here are some of the main benefits that sustainability can bring to brands:
- Increased customer loyalty: Most Gen Zers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. By prioritising sustainability, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors and build a loyal customer base. A survey by Cone Communications found that 91% of consumers are likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause, and 62% are willing to pay more for products from such a brand.
- Cost savings: Implementing sustainable practices can also lead to business cost savings. For example, reducing energy consumption, waste, and water usage can lower operating costs and increase efficiency. According to the Carbon Trust, businesses can save up to 20% on their energy bills by implementing energy-saving measures.
- Improved brand reputation: Sustainability is increasingly becoming a key factor in shaping a brand’s reputation. Businesses prioritising sustainability can differentiate themselves as responsible and forward-thinking, which can help attract and retain customers. A study by Nielsen found that 81% of global respondents felt strongly that companies should help improve the environment, and 73% said they would change their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact.
- Attracting and retaining employees: Gen Zers also prioritise sustainability in their job searches, with 75% saying they want to work for an environmentally responsible company. By implementing sustainable practices, businesses can attract and retain top talent, increasing productivity and innovation.
One example of a business that has successfully incorporated sustainability into its operations is IKEA. The company has committed to becoming climate positive by 2030. It has implemented a range of sustainability initiatives, such as using renewable energy and sourcing sustainable materials. According to IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Pia Heidenmark Cook, “The more sustainable we become as a business, the more we grow.”
Sustainability can bring a range of benefits to companies, from increased customer loyalty to cost savings and improved brand reputation. By prioritising sustainability, businesses can meet the expectations of eco-conscious consumers and drive positive impact and growth.
Tips for marketing to Gen Z
As a marketer, it’s essential to understand how to effectively communicate with Gen Z and appeal to their eco-conscious values. Here are some practical tips to consider:
- Prioritise sustainability in product development: When developing products, consider using sustainable materials and designing environmentally friendly products. This can differentiate your brand from competitors and appeal to Gen Z’s values. For example, the shoe brand Allbirds uses sustainable materials like eucalyptus and recycled water bottles to create products. The company has positioned itself as a leader in sustainable footwear.
- Use transparent messaging: Gen Z values transparency and authenticity, so it’s important to communicate your brand’s sustainability efforts transparently. For example, the beauty brand Lush uses its website and social media channels to share detailed information about its sustainability initiatives, such as its commitment to using ethical and sustainable ingredients.
- Consider sustainable packaging: Gen Z is concerned about plastic waste, so consider using sustainable packaging options like biodegradable materials, recycled content, or reusable containers. For example, Trader Joe’s grocery chain has committed to reducing its plastic packaging and has introduced initiatives like compostable produce bags and reusable food storage containers.
- Support environmental causes: Gen Z values brands that take a leadership role on environmental issues, so consider supporting environmental causes that align with your brand values. For example, the clothing brand Reformation partners with non-profit organisations like the National Forest Foundation to support reforestation efforts.
- Engage with Gen Z on social media: Gen Z is a digital-first generation, particularly active on social media. By engaging with them on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, you can build a relationship with this demographic and effectively communicate your brand’s sustainability efforts. For example, the cleaning brand Method has built a loyal following on social media by sharing visually appealing and engaging content about its sustainability initiatives.
By prioritising sustainability in product development, using transparent messaging, considering sustainable packaging, supporting environmental causes, and engaging with Gen Z on social media, brands can effectively connect with this eco-conscious generation and build a loyal customer base.
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Case studies from around the world
There are many examples of companies around the world that have successfully marketed to Gen Z by highlighting their sustainability credentials. Here are a few examples from different regions, along with the lessons that other businesses can learn from them:
The fashion brand Stella McCartney has long been known for its commitment to sustainability. The brand uses sustainable materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, and its website provides detailed information about its sustainability efforts. By prioritising sustainability and transparency, Stella McCartney has built a loyal following of environmentally conscious consumers.
Prioritise sustainability in all aspects of your business and communicate your efforts transparently.
The beverage company Innocent Drinks has positioned itself as a socially responsible brand that supports environmental and social causes. The company donates a portion of its profits to charity and has committed to using sustainable materials and reducing its environmental impact. Innocent has built a strong brand reputation and a loyal customer base by connecting with consumers on a values-driven level.
Support causes that align with your brand values and communicate your impact to consumers.
The sustainable fashion brand Bhu:Sattva uses natural and sustainable materials like organic cotton, hemp, and linen to create its products. The brand has also implemented sustainable production practices like water-saving dyeing techniques and minimising waste. By offering high-quality and sustainable products, Bhu:Sattva has built a loyal following of eco-conscious consumers in India.
Prioritise sustainable materials and production practices in your products.
Karimoku, specialising in wooden furniture, has implemented sustainable practices throughout its supply chain. The company sources wood from sustainably managed forests and has committed to reducing its environmental impact. By prioritising sustainability and quality, Karimoku has built a strong brand reputation and a loyal customer base in Japan.
Prioritise sustainable sourcing and production practices to reduce environmental impact.
The clothing brand Re/Done has built a loyal following of Gen Z consumers by using sustainable and ethical production practices. The company sources vintage denim and reworks it into new pieces, reducing waste and extending the material’s lifespan. Re/Done also uses organic and recycled materials in its products and has committed to minimising its environmental impact. By prioritising sustainability and transparency, Re/Done has gained a reputation as a socially responsible brand and has attracted a loyal following of eco-conscious consumers.
Use sustainable and ethical production practices, and consider extending the lifespan of materials to reduce waste. Communicate your sustainability efforts transparently to build a strong brand reputation.
The cosmetics brand Reforestum has gained a following of environmentally conscious consumers in Mexico by using sustainably sourced and organic ingredients. The company has also committed to reforestation efforts in Mexico, helping to offset carbon emissions and promote biodiversity. By prioritising sustainability and social impact, Reforestum has built a loyal customer base and a strong brand reputation in Mexico.
Consider using sustainable and organic ingredients in your products and supporting local environmental causes.
The outdoor gear brand Arc’teryx has prioritised sustainability in its production practices, using recycled materials and minimising waste. The company has also committed to reducing carbon emissions and supporting environmental causes like reforestation. By communicating its sustainability efforts transparently and building a reputation as a socially responsible brand, Arc’teryx has gained a following of eco-conscious consumers in Canada and worldwide.
Use sustainable materials and production practices, and communicate your sustainability efforts transparently to build a strong brand reputation.
These case studies highlight the importance of prioritising sustainability and transparency, supporting causes that align with brand values, using sustainable materials and production practices, and offering innovative and sustainable packaging options. By implementing these strategies, businesses can effectively connect with Gen Z and build a loyal customer base.
Gen Z is a highly eco-conscious generation that values sustainability in their purchasing decisions and expects brands to take the lead on environmental issues. By prioritising sustainability in their business strategies, brands can differentiate themselves from competitors, build a loyal customer base, and drive positive impact and growth.
To appeal to Gen Z, businesses should consider using sustainable materials and production practices, communicating their sustainability efforts transparently, and supporting environmental causes that align with their brand values. By engaging with Gen Z on social media and building a relationship based on shared values, businesses can connect with this growing demographic and drive long-term success.
As marketers, staying informed about the latest trends and insights on Gen Z and sustainability is important. By deepening our understanding of this demographic and its values, we can create effective marketing strategies that resonate with Gen Z and drive positive impact for our businesses and the planet.
Want to learn more about Gen Z? Download The Definitive Guide to Gen Z to discover what other values are important to this generation with our full report.