According to a survey conducted among U.S. consumers in April 2022, 23% of Gen Z (for this study those born 1997-2013) and 19% of millennial (those born 1981-1996) respondents said they "very often" looked for information about a brand's sustainability practices when making purchase decisions, according to Stifel.
Conversely, 23% of Gen X (those born 1965-1980) respondents said they “never or almost never” looked for information regarding a brand's sustainability practices when deciding to purchase a product. Another 34% of Gen X respondents said they “not that often” looked for brand’s sustainability information.
That’s not to say Gen X doesn’t care about sustainability, as 10% of Gen X respondents said they very often look and 33% said they “somewhat often” look for sustainability information from brands when deciding whether to buy a product from that brand. Stifel’s survey data just shows the majority of Gen Z and millennials care to look for a brand’s sustainability practices when deciding what to purchase, while that is not the case for Gen X.
When comparing Stifel’s 2022 data to its survey results from 2021, millennials who “at least somewhat often” said they looked for brand’s sustainability information was down 6%. As Retail Leader Pro previously reported, GWI data shows that year-over-year, the number of millennials who advocate based on behalf of the environment has dropped 18% and the number who support environmental causes has dropped 9%. Additionally, millennials who don’t buy any organic products — often viewed as more sustainable — is up 16%. Instead, during this period of economic uncertainty, millennials are focused on money-saving behaviors with the number buying seasonal produce to save money up 12% year-on-year, GWI reports.
According to GWI, the number of Gen Z who believe the environment will get worse has grown 50% since the second quarter of 2020, which could explain their need for brands’ sustainability practices when deciding what to buy. However, this is something of a U.S.-specific trend, with Gen Z worldwide generally growing less interested in environmental issues year-on-year. These are potential signs that “crisis fatigue” is setting in, GWI reported. That means that while it’s imperative for brands to think about ways they can be eco-friendly — more than three in 10 U.S. Gen Z say they should — it’s also worth addressing their messaging. For example, avoiding a “doomerism” approach to keep Gen Z from feeling hopeless about the future would resonate with the demographic better, GWI recommended.