What do Gen Z shoppers want? Quality and style still beats environmentally-friendly and ethical products

12/07/2019

Gen Z students consistently rank pragmatic issues like style and product quality over ethical concerns like environmental impact, according to new research.

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The report by UNiDAYS examined the views of 17,500 verified students and found that in 11 of the 12 industries, ethical considerations did not place in the top three most important considerations.

Generation Z (Gen Z) is composed of those born between 1995 and 2010, which means that the oldest are about 24 and are just entering the workforce.

For example in Fashion, the results revealed that Gen Z students (those born 1995-2010) feel it is more important that brands produce ‘stylish’, ‘high quality’ clothes, with ‘great new ranges each season’, than that they behave ‘environmentally responsibly’ or in an ‘ethical’ way.

The report examined proprietary data gathered from a sample of 17,500 verified students: 3,000 across the United Kingdom and 14,500 in the United States.

It found that in Fashion, it is more important to Gen Z students that brands produce stylish, high quality clothes than that they are environmentally responsible or ethical.

While in Supermarkets, Gen Z students are more concerned with good quality produce and ease of shopping experience than environmental or ethical concerns.

Brand affinity drivers were assessed by having respondents rank in order of importance the things that mattered most to them, in each industry.

In Fashion for example, the results revealed that Gen Z students (those born 1995-2010) feel it is more important that brands produce ‘stylish’, ‘high quality’ clothes, with ‘great new ranges each season’, than that they behave ‘environmentally responsibly’ or in an ‘ethical’ way.
Similar trends emerge in the report across multiple industries, including Supermarkets, where Gen Z students ranked ‘good quality produce’ and ‘ease of shopping experience’ as more important affinity drivers than ‘environmentally responsible’ or ‘ethical’. In the Quick Service Industry considerations such as having ‘great service’, ‘friendly staff’ and ‘providing a place to go with friends’ were found to be the three most important affinity drivers for Gen Z students.

In addition to assessing what drives affinity within industries, the report also calculated how much affinity Gen Z students hold towards hundreds of brands, with some surprising results. For example, within the Banking industry, popular ‘challenger’ brands such as Monzo scored lower for affinity with these tech-native Gen Z students than Barclays, which topped the affinity table within the Banking industry.

Alex Gallagher, UNiDAYS Chief Strategy Officer said: “There are a huge range of factors that drive the way students feel about brands. While it’s revealing to see Gen Z’s stereotype doesn’t necessarily stack up, it’s important to note that ethical concerns are still important to this generation. Indeed, ethical concerns ranked in the top ten affinity drivers across all 12 industries UNiDAYS’ examined.”

“What the UNiDAYS AFFDEX shows is that Gen Z students, like all generations before them, are complicated consumers. Consumers entering the workforce and increasing their buying power each day. The companies looking to succeed, not just in the here and now, but in the future, will need to learn to treat them as more than a stereotype.”

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