Sustainability from the Millennial Perspective

Learn more about how the millennial generation’s perception of the world of sustainability in e-commerce.

01 Aug 2019


Sustainability and Millennials, two of the most talked-about subjects in the world of e-commerce, make an even bigger splash when discussed in tandem. As this generation continues to grow, aging anywhere between 23 and 38 in the year 2019, they are slowly but surely making an impact on the world around them.

In the first edition of this series, we discussed a typical millennial’s shopping habits. For example, their tendency to research many different products and companies before making a decision and their use of mobile, or social commerce.

This time around, we’ll focus on how this generation values sustainability in all walks of life, especially when it comes to shopping. We’ll look at how their immediate access to technology and information will guide them to coming back to those companies with sustainable practice and avoiding those who do not. This means that when they shop a trend, others will follow, in our case, the trend of sustainability.

The Millennials are Taking Over

The millennial generation now makes up a large part of the workforce. In fact, it is predicted to dominate it soon with 75 percent of the workforce by the year 2025 falling into the millennial category. While making quite the impact on the employment sector of the world, millennials also find themselves holding quite a bit more purchasing power than may initially meet the eye.

An article posted by Ecosphere Plus in January of last year reported that in the US alone, millennials account for $600 billion in spending annually. Not to mention, the $2.75 trillion annual amount they are spending globally. Needless to say, this generation has a respectable amount of spending power.

The catch with this spending power, however, is that this generation takes the time to really research a product or service before purchasing. This allows them to study different models and versions of a product to understand ingredients or materials, and how sustainably sourced, produced or manufactured the product is. This type of research also allows millennials to really look at a company’s sustainable practices as a whole or lack thereof. It matters to this generation and they tend to put their purchase power behind it.

Sustianability

Who’s Sustainable?

The market for sustainable products and practices has been growing consistently over the past few years and is not slowing down. The Nilsen Company predicts consumers to spend $150.1 billion on sustainable goods and services by 2021.

A majority of these sustainable shoppers are millennials. According to the same study by the Nilsen Company, millennial consumers are not only more willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products than their predecessors (90% vs. 61%), but they are also twice as likely to say that they definitely or probably will change their habits to reduce their environmental impact than those from the Baby Boomer generation.

That being said, this generation is also very willing to forgo a brand or company in order to purchase more environmentally friendly products. Millennials use technology to publicly endorse or review a brand or product they support as influencers. Sharing recommendations and product reviews across channels is the modern equivalent of a recommendation from a friend.

These endorsements or reviews can easily be turned negative though. If a millennial consumer, or any consumer at all, really, does not find your brand or product to be sustainable, they can amplify their message to the world. And in many cases, the world listens.

Millennials

Companies are Listening

Global brand, Zara, is a millennial-favorite that takes a stance on the issue of sustainability and invests in the changes this generation wants to see.

According to a press release in July of 2019, Inditex, Zara’s parent company, announced that 100% of the cotton, linen, and polyester used will be organic, sustainable or recycled by 2025. In addition, 80% of the energy used in stores, logistic centers, and offices will be renewable by 2025.

Among other millennial-favorite companies making their announcement to “go green” are Starbucks, Target, McDonald’s, and more. For these brands, they are doing the right thing for the environment and their target buyers.

The millennial generation values sustainability and is not afraid to support or abandon brands that do not meet their expectations. If you want to engage with this generation, help out the environment while helping the future of your business and make some sustainable changes for the better. And, ensure your product information and branding reflects sustainability and eco best practices as this generation is paying attention.

Check out inRiver’s newest research on sustainability and shoppers in this press release.
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Written by

Erika Goldwater, CIPP


Erika Goldwater is the director of global communications for inRiver. An industry veteran, Erika lives and breathes B2B marketing, content, public relations, and data privacy. She's a Boston marketer who hails from Baltimore.