Consumers Are Driving Brands Toward Sustainability

Generation Y (or Millennials born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born after 1996) represent an ever-growing consumer power in the global economy. In the US, the purchasing power of Gen Z has already exceeded $ 500 billion. Millennials make up about a quarter of the world’s population, and statistics show that the purchasing power of Generations Y and Z is high and growing.

For years, millennials have been a central stage for brands and marketers. But for some time now, the new group has been gearing up to take its share of Gen Z’s consumer attention. These are the consumers that companies want to conquer. This audience is expected to overtake millennials, who make up 32% of the world’s population. And as Gen Z enters the workforce and their purchasing power increases, they will undoubtedly be a key target for brands to achieve customer appeal.

Ecology trend

Climate changes are caused by changes in the earth’s atmosphere, processes occurring in other parts of the Earth, such as oceans, glaciers, as well as, already in our time, the effects associated with human activities. Poor ecology is pushing Gen Z and millennials to new consumption patterns that consider the ethics and sustainability of what we consume. While sustainability considerations are not yet a major buying driver, it is expected that sustainable brands will continue to gain market share as the purchasing power of these generations grows.

It is clear that both consumers and brands are trying to reduce their impact on the planet, and as we approach the critical mass of consumption, we can expect sustainability issues to grow in importance.

Consumers are concerned about the quality of the ingredients used in the production of goods, the conditions in which the goods are produced, as well as the processing and recycling of packaging. This trend is confirmed by many large companies. For example, the British company Lush was one of the first to understand the importance of minimizing packaging waste and for many years has been producing cans for products only from recycled materials. L’Oreal plans to phase out single-use plastic by 2025. The brand has already launched the Source Essentielle hair care line, where shampoo bottles can be refilled – just go to the L’Oreal Professionnel salon. And there are many such examples in various areas of business.

Successful green products do not have to look or feel any different than green versions but bringing these products to market in more sustainable ways will undoubtedly become a more important direction for consumers.

Buyers’ opinion

First Insight’s 2019 report, The State of Consumer Spending: Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail, finds that 62 percent of Gen Z who will start shipping this year prefer to buy from sustainable brands.

Also, the majority of Gen Z (54%) say they are willing to spend an extra 10% or more on green products, with 50% of millennials saying the same. This compares with 34% of Gen X and 23% of baby boomers. It can be concluded that with each generation, the desire for sustainability is increasing.

Deloitte’s Global Millennium Generation Survey 2020 shows young consumers are concerned about climate change and unequal wealth distribution. In a survey, 65% of millennials and 57% of Gen Z said they had increased their recycling efforts, and half of 50% and 41% of Gen Z had reduced or stopped their fast fashion consumption.

It is also important that consumers are willing to pay more for products that are manufactured with sustainability in mind. According to an Accenture survey, more than half of consumers said they would pay more for green products that are intended for reuse or recycling.

According to a Nielsen study, consumers across all regions, income levels, and categories are willing to pay more for green products. The level of potential willingness of consumers to pay more for the products of companies that are responsible for society and the environment is more than 80%. At the same time, in developing countries, Millennials and Generation Z are willing to pay the highest prices.

Kearney estimates that about 70% of all consumers will pay 10% more for green products, another 15% will pay 30% more, and another 15% will pay even higher markups. Consequently, a 10% markup is likely to be well received in the mass market and could significantly increase the adoption of organic products.

Why eco products are more expensive

There is a widespread belief that eco-friendly products always cost an order of magnitude more expensive than their traditional counterparts. The logic behind this conclusion is simple: organic is fashionable, organic is high quality, organic is safe, and accordingly, pleasure is not cheap. But is it really so?

The truth is that organic food does not always cost more, and this is due to many facts that take place in our world. Let us take a look at the facts that add value to these products.

  • Eco-friendly materials are more expensive to grow and produce.
  • Reputable third-party certifications like organic or fair trade are not cheap.
  • Sustainable production requires a large number of workers and their competent management and support.
  • You need to think about sustainable packaging and transportation

At the same time, it is important to remember that demand forms supply, and therefore, when there are more products labeled “eco” in the basket of an average static buyer, then the cost for them will correspondingly decrease.

Government opinion

The European Parliament, in its legislative report, called for the urgent adoption of binding EU law ensuring accountability and responsibility for companies when they harm or contribute to harm to human rights. environment and good governance. It is also noted that victims should receive the necessary legal protection. The Commission announced that it will submit its legislative proposal on this issue in 2021.

Binding EU due diligence rules will oblige companies to identify, eliminate, and correct aspects of their value chain (all operations, direct or indirect business relationships, investment chains) that may or do violate human rights (including social, trade union, and labor rights), the environment (e.g., contributing to climate change or deforestation) and good governance (e.g., corruption and bribery).

MEPs emphasize that due diligence is primarily a preventive tool that requires companies to take proportionate measures based on the likelihood and severity of the impact, the sector of operation, the size and length of the value chain, and the size of the enterprise.

This news confirms the fact of concern for the protection of the environment, as well as social human rights at the state level.


In this way, fashion companies can succeed in promoting their green products to Gen Z and millennial audiences as their purchasing power grows and the overall environmental awareness of consumers grows with it.

At the same time, brands can stay ahead of the curve by investing in green infrastructure, increasing the recycling of used materials, using more sustainable fabrics, finding ways to deliver without much impact, and better explaining these changes to older generations.

The trend towards sustainability and smart consumption is gaining momentum. More and more brands are paying attention to optimizing production, processing raw materials, and supporting their customers in their efforts to help the planet.

In several countries, environmentally friendly production has already been formalized at the legislative level – a ban on the use of single-use plastics in Rwanda, France, India, Morocco, a policy to reduce the amount of hazardous waste in China, and the development of law in the European Union.

Developing a brand within the framework of sustainability is a necessary step. Soon, companies denying sustainability are unlikely to find a loyal audience. Already, some buyers are choosing exclusively ethical products, and their number will only grow.