Generation Green: Younger Generations and Sustainability

Trends / Sustainability
Maxine Ihezie
Sep 1, 2021
When making purchasing decisions, every generation contributes fresh perspectives and demands to the consumer market. ‘Generation Green’ aka Gen Z and Millennials, are no exception to the rule as they increasingly cement themselves as eco‑conscious consumers and look for brands to lead the way. Whilst both generations share those similarities, recognising the visual preferences that differentiate the two generations will ensure that retailers and brands are implementing the right visual strategies that align with the needs and desires of younger generations.

For this reason, we have been continuing to explore these unique sustainability desires in our Visual GPS research. This year through image testing, we have identified which visuals resonated best with the younger generations.
As seen in our image testing, visuals of sustainable businesses resonate particularly well with Millennials. In our latest VGPS survey, 8 in 10 Millennials told us that they prefer to buy from small, local businesses as a way of supporting their communities. A Nielsen study reaffirms this with their finding that 73% of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable or socially conscious brand. A combination of growing spending power and awareness through wide accessibility to the internet could explain the trend to lean towards visuals of sustainable consumption. Be it a hair or beauty salon, bike shop, or cafe, brands seeking to engage Millennials should use visuals that reflect them as proud owners and loyal customers of sustainable small businesses.

Gen Z
On the other hand, Gen Z's prefer visuals of collective responsibility where people join forces and drive change towards a sustainable future. According to our VGPS survey, Gen Z consumers were significantly more likely than other generations to do one of the following: join associations or advocacy groups and donate to causes or charities that support sustainability and the environment. Although Gen Z’s do not have the same capital as Millennials and older generations, instead they utilise social media to connect with and mobilize their peers. Much like Greta Thunburg, Gen Z present themselves as ethical influencers and catalysts for change. When visualising this demographic, show them uniting: whether it’s a climate change protest or a volunteering effort and most importantly, capture the emotional reward derived from caring for the environment.

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