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Credit Suisse Research Institute released a report this week identifying Gen Z and Millennials in China, India, and other emerging countries as more likely to align with sustainable consumption than those in developed regions. An increased likelihood of buying conscious products, coupled with corporate distrust has led to the claim.
Ten thousand age-appropriate consumers were surveyed across 10 countries. Findings represent opportunities for companies across a diverse range of sectors to capitalise on growing buyer awareness. More than 15 percent of respondents from China and India claimed that all their purchases are already sustainable. Elsewhere, 80 percent of survey participants shared their intention to lean towards earth-friendly purchases.
Breaking the cycle
Survey participants were split into two groups: emerging and developed countries. The emerging economies were Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa. Developed regions were represented by France, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K and U.S. Three-quarters of all young consumers addressed stated that they intended to try to live more sustainably. Eating less meat and favouring electric cars were listed as proactive steps. 63 percent of respondents said they expect to own an electric or hybrid car in the future. Chinese participants were already ahead of the curve, with 50 percent owning such cars as of today.
When it came to flying, emerging economy countries demonstrated a desire to fly less for the environment. Conversely, developed country responders cited no such intention. The figures were similar when it came to the issue of fast fashion. Despite only 20 to 40 percent of young consumers saying they would buy less fast fashion, 50 percent of all Chinese survey participants said they were committed to a reduction.
The role of young consumers
Gen Z and Millennials make up 54 percent of the world’s population, according to the report. This translates to 48 percent of spending. This will rise to 68 percent by 2040, the report claims, making it imperative for companies to align with the demographic now.
“Of particular importance in this regard is the role of the young emerging consumer, given the potential rise in spending power across the emerging world and the fact that, demographically, developing countries are skewed more toward younger consumers,” the report states.
Younger generations in emerging economies were found to be more open to government intervention in product availability. Some survey participants revealed they think authorities should regulate unsustainable items, or ban them entirely. Taking things a step further, consumers felt that company managers should have their wages tied to the sustainability of the company they run. Sixty percent of respondents across India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and the U.S. iterated this.
No firm conclusions emerged as to why younger folk in developing economies proved more aligned with planet-friendly consumption, Eugène Klerk, Credit Suisse’s head of global ESG & thematic research, theorised in an email to Bloomberg that climate change could be a root cause. “First, consumers across emerging markets might have been more exposed to the impact of global warming than those living in developed markets, which might explain why they are more engaged with finding solutions,” he stated. “Another reason could be that younger consumers in developed countries have a lifestyle that is less sustainable than that of consumers in developing economies.”
Appealing to the next generation
Multiple reports have highlighted Gen Z and Millennials as the most sustainability-driven generations. From launching climate careers to eating more plant-based foods than any other generation, they are making good progress. However, certain areas still need some support.
As the above findings illustrate, fast fashion is a sticking point for young consumers. The lure of cost-effective clothing is hard to ignore, but the industry is a major contributor to climate change, so education is a must. By breaking the cycle with open-minded generations, fast fashion could die out entirely.
Lead photo by Thirdman from Pexels.