– Teresa Madaleno:
If you fall into the Gen Z category, there is a strong chance that you have grown up with experiencing or hearing about weather extremes such as wildfires and droughts on a regular basis. In other words, climate change has always been a big issue. It should therefore come as no surprise that a recent Deloitte survey showed the number one concern for Gen Z is the environment.
While Gen Z is expressing the need for serious action on climate change, they aren’t just expecting governments to solve the problem, they are making choices of their own to contribute to the solution. For example, the demand for sustainable products is huge among Gen Z. One 2020 survey suggested that over 70 percent of this generation is willing to pay for sustainable products even though they have less disposable income. Remember, if you are part of Gen Z then you are roughly between 6 and 24-years-old.
Imagine you are a college student on a tight budget, yet you would prefer the more expensive environmentally friendly product over the less expensive, less sustainable competitor. This is not easy for a person in the Gen Z category to deal with. Many young people today will not only buy greener products, but they are also forced to buy fewer items overall due to their low levels of income. Currently, a lot of research shows that over 50 percent of young consumers are prepared to pay a little over 10 percent increase in price for sustainable products. Companies need to find ways to lower the cost of producing sustainable products and services.
Working for Green Companies
Gen Z consumers are also very interested in working for green companies. There is a lot of talent brewing in this age group, especially because they have grown up with technology just as much as they have grown up with climate disasters. Why should this matter? Because if you are a company that does not address climate change, the future of your organization could be in jeopardy. To be competitive and successful, companies need good talent. Not addressing Gen Z’s environmental concerns will put your future workforce at risk. Almost half of the Gen Zs questioned for the Deloitte survey indicated that ethics are playing a role in their career choices.
Whether you are Gen Z or not, if you are also passionate about preserving our planet, we advise – do your homework. There are many companies and brands making changes to meet the demands of eco-conscious consumers, but consumers must also understand the difference between a company that really is dedicated to sustainability and a company that is greenwashing. Marketers have become very adept at targeting Gen Z with sustainability messages related to brands, but some brands are not walking-the-talk.
While we can’t teach you everything about greenwashing verses green truth in one short blog, here are some pointers to get you started:
- When a company overstates how responsible they are, it can be a red flag. For instance, if the packaging is all green, the wording states “all natural”, the logo looks a lot like a recyclability symbol, they claim to use 100 percent recyclable plant-based materials in everything they do and claim to use limited amounts of electricity in their production facility, you might want to ask a few questions. After all, it is hard for any company to be all things, all at the same time.
- When a company claims to be sustainable but fails to provide any solid information to support those claims, ask for access to their sustainability report.
- When a company makes an irrelevant claim, it could be greenwashing. For example, if you see a label that reads, “hormone free” on a package of chicken from a Canadian poultry provider, it is irrelevant because Canada banned adding hormones to chicken back in the 1960’s.
- When a company is vague, ask questions. For instance, if the product label indicates that it is “20 percent more sustainable”, the question becomes, more sustainable than what?
Taking time to educate oneself about true sustainable practices makes it a lot easier to make wise choices. Those who care about the environment, like many Gen Z’s, are willing to take the time to become more educated.