Dec 8, 2021
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Sustainable shopping: Millennials and Boomers are strongly influenced by Gen Z

Dec 8, 2021

Concerned about the well-being of the planet, Gen Z consumers appear to be influencing the eco-friendly purchasing decisions of their elders. A new study shows that the purchasing habits and preferences of Boomers, and even more so of Gen Xers, are now directly impacted by the sustainable values publicly displayed by Gen Z.

The report reveals that three quarters of Gen Zers put sustainability ahead of brand names in their purchasing decisions and actions - AFP

Gen Z consumers seem to be most aware of environmental issues and sustainable practices compared to other generations. And it may be that their influence on older generations, such as millennials, is now more than ever making a difference. That's according to a new study* conducted jointly by First Insight  and the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The report reveals that three quarters of Gen Zers put sustainability ahead of brand names in their purchasing decisions and actions. This is in line with how the purchasing habits of their parents, who are from Generation X, have evolved over the last two years. The latter are now more inclined to turn to sustainable brands (+24%), but also to spend more money on sustainable products (+42%) compared to a previous study conducted in 2019.

"Our research points to a seismic shift in sentiment around sustainability purchasing decisions, with significant increases in just two years. When the previous study was fielded in 2019, older generations were not as sustainability-conscious as they are today. The global pandemic caused many to rethink their consumption and its impact on the health of the planet, yet Gen Z have been consistent in remaining true to their sustainability values while also educating and influencing the generations that came before them," explains Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight.

Each generation has its own view of sustainability

Today, consumers of all generations say they are willing to spend more on sustainable products. Some 90% of Gen X consumers say they would  spend at least 10% more on any kind of sustainable product, whereas two years ago, not even 35% of them were willing to do so. The question now is what the term 'sustainable' means for all these generations. It is clear that everyone has their own definition. For 44% of baby boomers, 46% of millennials (46%) and 48% of Gen Xers, sustainability "means products made from recycled, sustainable, and natural-harvested fibers and materials," while their younger counterparts, the Zs, equate sustainability with sustainable manufacturing (48%).

The issue of packaging, however, has everyone in agreement. Nearly three quarters of respondents from all generations consider sustainable packaging to be very or fairly important today. This compares to just over half two years ago.

*Results are based on a US survey of a targeted sample of more than 1,000 respondents, balanced by gender, geography and generation, conducted between July 1 and 10, 2021. The study was conducted using proprietary sample sources among panels that participate in online surveys.

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