Sustainability and the Future of Advertising According to Gen Z

By Celtra

As Gen Z takes the stage as the dominant consumer group, it’s time for advertisers and marketers to realize that resonating with the dominant consumer group is key to being recognized and remembered. Not only that, but tailoring advertising to appeal to Gen Z will maximize reach and potential impact, thus leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

Sounds obvious perhaps, but by pandering to the needs of Gen Z, everyone’s a winner! Especially when their demands are beneficial to both the planet and its inhabitants.

Sustainability- a non-negotiable for core shoppers

 A recent McKinsey Report showed that 75% of Gen Z shoppers find sustainability more important than brand names, with the same survey reporting that 82% of shoppers wanted brands to prioritize sustainable and “people-first” practices. With these kinds of results, emerging brands have a terrific opportunity to build awareness by making green choices, and pushing the save-the-planet agenda. 

Gen Zs were born into a world grappling with climate change and environmental concerns, and they’ve made it clear that sustainability is not just a passing trend but a core value. A recent McKinsey article on the influence of ‘woke’ consumers on fashion found that nine in ten Gen Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues. Therefore, the companies that stand out to the dominant consumer group are those who are purpose-driven and prioritize eco-friendly practices, fair labor conditions, and corporate social responsibility. A win for consumers and a win for the planet! 

Gen Z concerns that matter and why

This new eco-conscious generation is also acutely aware of the negative impact of single-use plastics, toxic chemicals, and waste on ecosystems and human health. Not only do they advocate for sustainable waste management practices and the reduction of plastic consumption to preserve the environment, but they will also go the extra mile to hold retailers accountable for their use of single-use plastics (often by posting on social media). The consequence of tenuous claims on ‘environmentally friendly packaging’ is now much greater than just being called out- with policies such as Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the Advertising Code, fining agencies and brands a pretty penny for any deceiving claims. 

They are also very critical of overconsumption and throwaway culture. Although Gen Z can’t be attributed to the fall of fast fashion (they don’t know a world without it) there is an increasing trend in second-hand and pre-owned shopping. Online marketplace apps like Depop (which was acquired by Etsy for 1.6 Billion in 2021), as well as Thredup, Vinted, are worth billions. Vogue reported that online secondhand platform Thredup says the resale market will be worth $350 billion by 2027, largely thanks to Gen Z. 

Answering to new habits and requirements

By aligning with these values, emerging brands can tap into the immense potential of the Gen Z market, building brand awareness and fostering a loyal audience. However, embracing sustainability in advertising goes beyond mere token gestures. It requires a holistic approach that permeates all aspects of a brand’s operations, from sourcing materials to manufacturing processes and packaging. They can see through it, and if not, the slooths and whistleblowers on TikTok and Instagram will expose and annihilate your brand. Gen Z consumers demand products that have a reduced carbon footprint, utilize renewable energy, and prioritize recycling and waste reduction, and won’t put up with green-washing any longer. 

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