Narratives about how we need to change our behaviors for the health of the planet are becoming louder, especially among Gen Z and Millennial consumers. But a wholesale shift towards living in more environmentally conscious ways can be tough. What we say doesn’t always translate into what we do. And in fact, it’s hard to make more sustainable choices unless we have access to products and services that support them.

  • 70% of Gen Z and Millennials care a lot about environmental protection (about half of whom say they’re “passionate” about it)

Increasingly, consumers not only want brands to align with their personal values, but also they want brands to take a more active role in helping them more easily “do their part.”  Among Gen Z and Millennials, our study found that:

  • 3 in 4 say knowing a brand’s views on certain issues is important to them
  • 89% agree that brands have the power to change people’s minds on issues
  • 4 in 5 say brands have a moral obligation to “do good”

But these consumers are also not necessarily willing to forgo the convenience and quality they’ve come to expect in today’s personalized and connected world. Consumers are calling for more, and brands should be listening.


And Some Brands Are Listening

A quick look at the marketplace shows a growing awareness across industries and verticals of how brands have an opportunity to shake up landscapes and grow their businesses by empowering consumers to make better decisions through product and packaging innovations, messaging, and brand initiatives.

A few examples show how widespread the trend is and how varied the specific approaches are based upon where a brand focuses.

Inforgraphic with images and examples of how brands are offering more environmentally friendly options and nudging consumers towards sustainable decisions.

Bridging “Want” and “Will”

Brands like these are making it easier for belief and behavior to converge. That’s important because often there is a tension between the real self and the ideal self — between the good a person wants to do and the trade-offs they are actually willing to make in order to achieve that good. Brands face a tension too between authentic eco-friendly initiatives and simply “green-washing” or doing only lip-service to environmental goals. For example, it’s one thing to switch from plastic bags to cotton, but that cotton itself comes with a significant environmental footprint.

In our work, we often hear consumers express a deep desire to do good and for brands to walk the walk (not just talk the talk) by giving them tools and options to feel like they’re making the better choice. In turn, brands need to ensure that these good intentions actually lead to good results. By doing that, they can help consumers bridge the gap between real and ideal.


It Just Makes Cents

Consumers are on the look-out for ways to buy that are more environmentally friendly. Brands can create a win for these consumers — and for themselves — by bridging competing priorities. For example, they can enable environmentally conscious choices that are just as convenient as less sustainable options. And they can do so while actually raising their topline:  Not only are 88% of Gen Zers and Millennials more likely to trust a brand that aligns with their values, two in three are willing to pay a premium for that brand.

It is well worth it for brands to apply an environmental lens to all that they do and offer — in everything from product development to packaging innovation to marketing. In doing so, a brand can not only win consumer heart-share but also consumer wallet-share.


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