As climate change and political upheaval continue to make headlines and threaten Gen Z's future, social impact becomes increasingly important to this generation. And when they take up social causes, they want brands to come along for the ride.
The Gen Z worldview
Although Gen Z has a soft spot for nostalgia, they’ve got no time for outdated ways of thinking when it comes to social equality. Compared to their parents, 85 percent of Gen Z are less occupied with things like gender orientation and 77 percent report they think about race differently. 56 percent of Gen Z go as far as to consider themselves to be socially conscious. Almost half of America’s Gen Z is part of a racial minority group. Compare this to a more senior generation, aged 75 years and over, which is 78 percent caucasian, and you’ll see that the country’s landscape has changed in no small way.
They only spend on what they believe in
Gen Z’s consciousness contributes to their perspective on the businesses they support. “About 80% [of Gen Z] go away if you are not aligned with them from a values perspective,” said CMO of Bazaarvoice, Sara Spivey during an AdWeek panel in New York. "They will go out of their way to avoid you." Pretending to be socially conscious won’t meet the mark. This generation wants to see evidence that companies believe in the values they’re selling. Having grown up immersed in the oft-deceptive world of media, and come of age in the era of fake news, Gen Z has developed an eye for truth in advertising and has no time for retailers that are trying to sell them a value that the company itself doesn’t embody. This goes double for sustainability—if you’re not committed to ensuring they’ve got a future, they’re not buying.
They’re serious about sustainability
Eco-friendly fashion is blooming as Gen Z embraces choices that lessen their carbon footprint. Brands like Stella McCartney and Everlane are converting ocean-polluting plastic into runway-ready looks, and Gen Z is taking notice. Nike has also made strides in its recent footwear launches, announcing its Plant Color collection, featuring sneakers dyed with natural plant dyes. It doesn’t end with fashion, either. Beauty brands are capturing Gen Z by innovating away from plastics. Check out this new pill by Bite —it’s actually a toothpaste that does away with the landfill-cluttering tubes. These are just a few of the ways brands and products are reimagining themselves for a more sustainable future—and Gen Z is paying attention.
Want to know what else Gen Z is thinking about? Check out our latest report on Gen Z.
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Originally posted July 10th, 2018. Updated May 17th, 2019.