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Consumers in Generations Y and Z want sustainable packaging

When you have to include the consumers into your marketing and your product, you need to keep their values in mind. There is a difference between the value sets of the different consumer groups and how they view brands, products, and packaging. In this article, we examine the overall values of consumer groups. We focus on how the various consumer groups view packaging and sustainability based on these values. This is because it has a huge impact on your business and the way you brand it. The packaging is your company’s extended brand, and it is therefore essential that you can communicate with the various consumer groups and hit them in the best possible way through your packaging.

Your customers have sustainability on the agenda

It is no surprise that sustainability is high on the agenda of consumers and that it is an increasing trend. There is a large consumer group in Generations Y and Z who are very interested in sustainability. The younger generation was born and raised in a time when global warming has become clearer than ever before. Consequently, they have experienced the need for sustainability closely and throughout their lives. The pandemic has also given even more impetus to the sustainability of the consumer groups because they have experienced the changes on their own. Generations Y and Z are increasingly thinking of sustainability as part of the core narrative of the brands they are looking for. They are also loyal to the brands that are good at talking about their sustainability initiatives. Consumers not only have expectations for the sustainability of the product, but also the packaging and the overall shopping experience. It can pose challenges for your business if you do not focus on environmentally friendly packaging. It is therefore important to rethink the packaging based on the different target groups. For example, Generation Z is more critical of sustainability than previous generations.

Generation Z is the most conscious consumer group ever

In this post, we will primarily address the two youngest generations – Y and Z. They make up the largest percentage of consumers right now.

Generation Y – also called Millennials – were born between 1980 and 1995. Thus, they are between 25 and 40 years old in 2021.

 

Generation Z were born between 1996 and 2015 and are between 6 and 25 years old in 2021.

In recent years, Generation Y has been the largest consumer group in the retail trade. As a company, however, you must also include Generation Z in your marketing, because this consumer group will grow strongly in the coming years. Both Generations Z and Y are younger target groups, but there is a difference in their behaviour. Several studies show that Generation Z is the most conscious consumer group that has ever existed. Generation Y is also aware of sustainability, but Generation Z is following suit with even greater awareness. In other words, the numbers show that the younger you are, the more important sustainability is to you.

Generations’ consumer values

Both generations believe they can make a difference through their purchases. But Generation Z is also sceptical of the promises made by the various brands and companies. They are sceptical because they have grown up with sustainability up close and know all the aspects – including the negative aspects such as greenwashing. Generation Z expects ethically correct production. Where Generation Y would like to pay more for products that are ethically correctly produced, Generation Z will not pay extra because they expect the products to be produced with sustainability in focus. They therefore have an expectation that you are already working with environmentally friendly packaging. Generation Z is concerned with brands that are honest and authentic. They want to see unedited images and honesty, and they will not be fed empty promises. They demand transparency and reward loyalty. Millennials, i.e. Generation Y, are similarly looking for brands that show their values, but are less firm on transparency.

Generations Y and Z both want sustainability

Both consumer generations want sustainability as part of the basic narrative of brands. But they have two different approaches to it. Millennials buy the good story and reward with brand loyalty. They look for brands that show their values ​​and make emotional decisions based on them. Values ​​such as responsibility and sustainability are, therefore, important criteria for them. Thus, if you speak to Generation Y’s feelings, they are brand loyal and reward you with positive publicity. Generation Z, on the other hand, is looking for evidence.
They [Generation Z] do not just trust good gut feelings and good brand stories. They want radical transparency and proof of what companies really do. So you can no longer get away with telling a good story. You must be able to prove what impact you have.
– Loa Worm, Director of Strategy and Development at FSC Denmark.
As a company, there is no point in clinging to a societal trend if it does not match the brand’s actions in the real world. Generation Z will be able to see through that.

Consumers look at what you as a company do for the environment

Consumers are no longer looking for answers and solutions from politicians. They look more at their own actions. They think about what they can do themselves, for example, use less plastic, eat less meat and the like. This trend goes across the various consumer groups. The introverted reaction is seen in both Generations Y and Z. They think that their consumption has a negative effect on the environment and want to do something about it. That is why your business is an important piece. Instead of looking for answers from politicians, consumers are looking at you. As many as 80% of young consumers believe that companies are important in this context. There are therefore high expectations for brands and companies.
You need to provide consumers with products that can address the issues of sustainability. On the other hand, consumers are also more willing to buy your products. Thus, it is a win-win situation. Generations Y and Z put their trust in companies:
  • Only 23% are looking for answers and solutions from politicians.
  • 80% are looking for opportunities in companies.
  • 44% will support brands with a focus on sustainability.
In this context, however, there is no longer a big difference between the different generations and consumer groups. They both believe that companies hold the key to sustainability.

How to address the consumer

Consumers do not need more education. They know very well that the forests are burning and that something needs to change. Your job as a company is therefore to find out how the change is created. Customers want to know how they and you as a company can make a difference. That’s why it is important to make a difference and prove it. This evidence can, among other things, come through environmentally friendly packaging.

Rethink the packaging based on the consumer groups

If you want to address the two younger generations of consumers, it is essential that you get sustainability on the agenda. This applies not only to your brand and your products but also to the packaging. When you as a company use environmentally friendly packaging, taking care of the environment is not the only advantage. You also get benefits such as sending a good signal value to your customers, distinguishing yourself positively from the competition, and improving the experience for your customers. Get to know more about sustainable packaging here.
References: GlobeScanRadically Better Future: The Next Gen Reckoning Report, December 2020.

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