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Why End-To-End Sustainability Is A Key Factor For Gen Z Consumers When Choosing Brands

Why End-To-End Sustainability Is A Key Factor For Gen Z Consumers When Choosing Brands

Generation Z is grabbing the attention of marketers as they continue to emerge as an exciting new consumer, boasting a spending power of $143 billion.

But how a brand performs when it comes to sustainability can be make-or-break for Gen Z customers. But what are some of the key strategies that brands should use when targeting this group, and what kind of marketing content should they focus on?

Gen Z’s Consumer Conscience

Whilst Gen Z is a group that will likely be big spenders over the next decade and could contribute heavily to brand revenues, this group is aware that every purchase they make can also have an environmental impact.

In a survey by UNIDAYS and AdAge, respondents spoke about their concerns when it came to purchasing products that had a perceived negative impact on the planet. One said, “It’s our job to leave the world a better place than we found it.” Another said that, “…we can learn from [previous generations’] mistakes and improve our mark on the environment and the world.” Gen Z consumers are willing to put their beliefs into action as well, with one third of consumers in this demographic saying that they have boycotted a brand that they believe is participating in unsustainable practices.

Big Demands And Deep Pockets

A recent survey found that 93% of Gen Z consumers thought that brands have an obligation to take a stand on environmental issues, and 46% of Gen Z customers will actually seek out more honest products that focus on transparency when purchasing. They want to buy from brands they can trust to be fully accountable.

This group is looking to buy from companies that have a genuine understanding of their environmental impact, and they demand transparency about what companies are doing to improve things. Speaking on the McKinsey Podcast, McKinsey partner Bo Finnemann explained how in-depth Gen Z’s scrutiny of brands is: “They’re looking beyond tangible products and actually trying to understand what it is that makes the company tick […]. What’s its mission? What’s its purpose? And what is it actually trying to build for us as a society?”

And although this generation may expect a lot from their brands, they are also willing to pay more if they know the company is committed to its green values. 54% of Gen Z consumers say they would happily spend 10% more on sustainable products, demonstrating that companies who would need to raise prices to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could have those additional costs offset by targeting this particular group.

In fact, brands might do a lot better than just break even. The New York University Center for Sustainable Business found that a 50% sales growth for consumer packaged goods between 2013 and 2018 came from products marketed as sustainable. In an interview, CSB director Tensie Whelan pointed out that, “…across virtually every category of consumer packaged goods, sustainability is where the growth is, which I think tells you something about where consumers are, if you look at our data, there is a massive shift in the last five years.”

Creating An Awareness Strategy

Brands need to convince a sceptical audience and show them the tangible ways they are achieving their sustainability goals. This could put your brand ahead of competitors, as one study found that amongst the top 50 biggest companies in the world, only 12% communicate their SDGs in consumer campaigns.

At present, Gen Z has a hard time trusting marketing strategies, with 79% of them believing brands are never honest, or not honest enough about environmental issues. While Gen Z may be hard to convince, they have the potential to stick with the brands they trust on a longer-term basis. Ultimately, if your brand is making tangible changes to how it produces and recycles or disposes of its products, and you are communicating these changes in a clear and consistent way, you are likely to attract the attention, respect and ultimate loyalty of this savvy consumer demographic.



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