Generation Z, or those born between 1997 and 2012, has an estimated spending power of over $140 billion. Naturally, earning the youth’s support is at the top of the list for many businesses, especially ones hoping to stay afloat in today’s competitive world. As a generation of internet natives, Gen Zers know more about what’s going on in the world than any generation has before. With all this knowledge and information, Gen Z has become incredibly passionate about the environment, global warming, and climate change. Due to this, it may not be as easy as it sounds to win over the youth’s hearts and wallets. Gen Z requires companies to keep sustainability as a priority if they want their support.
To give companies a better picture on what Gen Zers want to see from you, and the significance that climate change holds to the youngest generation, we’ve compiled a Q&A featuring Gen Zer’s, and their unique takes on everything related to sustainability in business!
How would you describe Gen Z to a room full of business leaders?
“I would describe Gen Z as a passionate and determined generation. Almost all of Generation Z have experienced or seen the effects of climate change and deeply rooted systemic issues for years. I believe one large factor in why our generation is so determined for change now is because we are educated about the past. As young people, most of us feel as though we don’t have a voice in society, which I think only fuels our passion for change more. We are a strong generation that will fight for what we believe in.”
Why do you think Gen Zers are so passionate about the environment?
“I think Gen Zers are passionate about the environment because while big corporations were putting drills in the earth and chemicals into our oceans and thinking ‘this isn’t going to affect people until the future’ they didn’t realize when they say ‘the future’ they are referring to Generation Z’s present. We see from firsthand experience how climate change affects the world around us and have the science to back it up. We grew up seeing the horrors of climate change such as dying species, lands destroyed by flooding and drought, people starving, and we don’t want to let the next generation experience that if we can.”
How do you feel about climate change?
“I think that climate change is indeed very real, and we don't have much time left to stop it. We must do everything we can, from educating the public all the way to doing trash pickups, to help slow the rate of climate change.”
How important is sustainability to you?
“Sustainability is very important to me because the earth has been harmed in so many ways by humans, and the least we can do is be eco-friendly to make up for it. As an individual, I try my best to make environmentally-minded decisions when I’m shopping, and going through everyday life but, in the end, real change comes from policies, and businesses taking action.”
What are your thoughts on greenwashing?
“I think that greenwashing isn't good because it causes more harm than actual good for the environment. The whole reason Gen Zers want to shop in a sustainable fashion is that it’s good for our planet, and helps prevent climate change, so when companies take advantage of that it’s really upsetting. I would much rather know the truth than be twisted into thinking I’m making good choices as a consumer when really I’m not.”
How do companies or brands gain your support?
“Companies and brands can gain my support in many ways. If they make a mistake and publicly acknowledge and correct it when told, that shows me that they are trustworthy and reliable, and are willing to admit their mistakes. If a company or brand speaks out for a large public issue and stands with it - such as the Black Lives Matter movement - that makes the brand or company more appealing to buy from or support. One more way that a company or brand can gain my support is if they have environmentally friendly clothing. It shows that they not only believe that climate change is real, but that they are willing to do things to try and help it get better, or at least help by not making it worse.”