GenZ: reshaping brands for good.
Updated: Apr 28
Generation Z, post-95s born, is reshaping how brands are approaching the public.
As new emerging consumers, Gen Z is now challenging brands to build trust for the future, expecting companies to be purpose-driven and socially conscious.
If this is true all over the world, different are the causes and the priorities from country to country.
The global trend marks people as personally responsible for making the difference but actively believing that companies must drive action on social & environmental issues.
The younger consumers are, on average, more willing to pay more for sustainable products and brands, followed by the vast majority of Millennials.
What about China?
Although the potential of Chinese sustainable-savvy consumers is continually on the rise, it has to be said that it is yet at its early stage.
The main focus for consumers is to prioritize China's development and locally sourced brands and products.
If sustainable traveling and eco-friendly hotels are becoming popular among the more affluent and highly-educated consumers, a more extensive look has to be done on the fashion industry that finds in Chinese consumers its most powerful market.
According to TMall data recycled material, sustainable fashion concepts, and vintage are among the most researched, when choosing a brand. However, these values reflect more an aesthetic of sustainability, rather than an actual environmental impact of the brand. What does it mean? It's cool to look "green", it's harder to be "green".
Style, price, and brand reputation are still the most important values for consumers, while sustainability is not among the first concerns.
So, what are the main barriers for Chinese consumers when talking about sustainable brands?
Generally speaking, the Chinese market is very different from any other Western country market. It is huge and complex, so it's not surprising if 21% of consumers don't know where to find sustainable brands, and 19% don't understand what sustainable products actually mean.
And due to the big offer of the market, famous brands with a well-known reputation and the support of popular KOLs and celebrities are the ones the consumers trust the most.
It goes with it that Chinese consumers expect brands to take a stand on important issues, and we understand this necessity.
Brands have to be the one taking the lead.
This is why many international brands are concentrating on raising environmental awareness on the Chinese market with small collective actions: La Mer cooperated with Tencent QQ bringing people together for an ocean clean-up project, Nike partnered with the local brand Reclothing Bank to upcycle unused items and Adidas made a campaign on marine protection.
In this article, we are not going to determine if those are cases of greenwashing, mere marketing actions. The attention has to be redirected to the approach that big brands are using to communicate with the new generation of consumers that need to be educated on sustainability.
Recently we saw an increase in sustainable actions, like hotels and F&B industries limiting single-use plastic toiletries and cutleries. Although the trend is positive and full of hope, the trigger was the government's action towards sustainability.
This means that the purpose of brands and Chinese consumers is still a commodity, and not yet a solid starting point.
Is this bad? Not necessarily. We know that China plays its own rules, with a different social scheme and leading factors.
这不好吗？ 不一定。 我们知道中国总有自己的特色，有着不同的社会制度和主导因素。
We can say with no doubt, that the young generation is slowly but steadily moving towards sustainability.
Chinese people have a rooted trust in their government's actions, and, as consumers, they still expect from the brands to be responsible in the first place.
If you belong to GEN Z, what is your relationship between brands and sustainability? How does it affect your choices?