Survey: Generations differ on importance of sustainability

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Who your customers are may factor into sustainability decisions.

According to “The State of Consumer Spending: Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail,” a new survey from digital testing platform First Insight, 62% of Gen Z respondents prefer to buy from sustainable brands, on par with millennials, while 54% of Gen X and 44% of the Silent Generation (born 1928-45) said the same. However, only 39 percent of baby boomers agreed. 

Gen Z is also the most willing to pay more for sustainable products (73%) compared to millennials (68%), Gen X (55%), Silent Generation (50%) and baby boomers (42%). 

Of note, the majority of respondents across generations expect retailers and brands to become more sustainable, including 84% of Gen X, 78% of millennials, 73% of Gen Z, 73% of baby boomers, and 68% of the Silent Generation.

Other interesting findings include:

Recommerce is gaining traction across every generation, with 64% of millennials, 63% of Gen X, 62% of Silent Generation, 59% of Gen Z (59 percent), and 52% of baby boomers saying they shop the secondary markets. 

Resale/consignment retailers The RealReal, ThredUp, Poshmark, and Tradesy are used by 48% of millennial respondents, 46% of both Gen X and Gen Z, 39% of baby boomers, and 22% of Silent Generation.

When asked why respondents shop sustainable brands, quality ranked higher than environmental concerns across every generation. Eighty-five percent of millennials, 83% of baby boomers, 81% of Gen X, 78% of Gen Z, and 70% of the Silent Generation ranked quality as important. While both factors were rated as important, environmental concerns ranked lower, with only 72% of baby boomers, 71% of millennials, 70% of Gen Z and Gen X, and 66% of the Silent Generation respondents ranking it as important.

First Insight’s findings are based on the results of a U.S. consumer study of a targeted sample of more than 1,000 respondents fielded in December 2019.