The X, Y and Z of Sustainability: Exploring Generational Differences in Sustainability

Why generational consumer sustainability research?

It is useful to understand cross-generational differences to ensure company decisions around sustainability appeal to your customer base. But what’s currently known about different cohorts? How does Gen X feel about the environment compared to millennials? How does Gen Z’s sustainable behaviour contrast with earlier generations?

There is significant evidence that consumers want organisations to lead when it comes to sustainability and that they want their brands to represent more than a transactional relationship. Are organisations ready for Generation Alpha – who have grown up with activist literature, demonisation of plastic and strikes for climate change – to become active consumers?

The weight of the world on young shoulders

To bring quantitative insight to generational consumer sustainability research, we conducted an online survey with 1,002 UK consumers, representing Generation X, Y or Z, and found:

  • Gen Z and millennials were significantly more likely to agree that climate change is caused by human activity than Gen X.
  • A third of Gen Z agreed that worrying about climate change affects their day-to-day life, compared to a fifth of Gen X.
  • 74% of Gen X reported encouraging others to care about the environment, compared to 69% Gen Z and 70% millennials, perhaps due to the high number of parents in Gen X.

Interested in your own research?

We have vast experience with segmentation research and engaging with respondents of all ages, as well as offering an array or sustainability research services to inform strategy and communication.