Written by Sara Neklason ( Guest Contributor )
In recent years, it’s become more popular – even essential – for businesses to commit to sustainable practices. With 76 percent of young consumers expressing concern for climate change, sustainability has been at the forefront of thoughts on the future for all industries. Road transport itself accounts for 15 percent of all global CO2 emissions, presenting an opportunity for companies to minimize this effect by investing in more sustainable delivery options.
Claiming your business is sustainable can be a gray area for both the brand and the consumer: are you simply using recycled packaging? Using electric vehicles? Offsetting carbon emissions? There are many factors that influence a brand’s ability to stay sustainable.
Forbes has defined sustainability as “providing for the present needs without compromising the needs of the future generations to meet theirs.” The definition is broad, but for the purposes of this analysis, we can judge brands’ commitment to sustainability based on their attention to the impact of their business practices.
As younger generations rally behind climate change and continue to demand more sustainable practices when purchasing, it is clear that companies need to embrace a sustainable business model in order to maintain their competitive edge. The question that remains is, how can businesses leverage sustainability to meet a variety of consumer preferences?
It’s clear that there is a generational response to sustainability across the many generations with buying power today:
Consumers 18-24: Gen Z
It’s no surprise that 62 percent of Gen Z-ers point to sustainability being an important aspect of purchasing behavior, along with a similar receptiveness to subscription-based services. What is surprising from a generation still establishing itself in today’s job market is the financial commitment behind the desire for sustainable business practices. Of Gen Z respondents, 73 percent stated that they are comfortable paying more for sustainably sourced products.
Consumers 25-40: Millennials (aka Gen Y)
Millennials’ purchasing habits mirror their younger counterparts, agreeing that sustainability is an important deciding factor in purchasing from a brand. Now fully established, Millennials have the buying power to support sustainable business models, and 85 percent of millennials revealed that quality of the product is their first concern when purchasing, closely followed by environmental concerns at 71 percent.
Consumers 41-56: Gen X
Currently at the height of their careers, Gen X carries a significant amount of spending power, with some noting that this spending power is the true driver of a shift toward sustainable shopping. Over half of Gen X consumers coincide with millennials and Gen Z’s preference on buying from sustainable brands, with a focus on cutting carbon emissions and eliminating single-use plastic packaging. Lastly, 84 percent of Gen X revealed an expectation for brands to become more sustainable in the future, further displaying their contributions to this shift in consumer preferences.