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The Green Generation, aka Generation Z, consumers care deeply about sustainability and climate change and are influencing their households, family and friends. This new generation of teens and young adults understand the cumulative value of their spending power and they are rallying together to wield it with retailers and service providers. They are using their social networks to collaborate with each other and join forces to create a louder voice.  Recently, an estimated 4 million young people participated in coordinated global climate crisis strikes after being inspired by 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

Generation Green & Sustainability Activism

Gen Z’s activism seems to working and creating real change – getting the business world to care about sustainability. A recent Nielsen article, Gen Z Sustainable Consumers Go Digital — And Use Activism to Shape a Smarter Market, discusses how activism by Gen Z’ers is making a difference.  Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company, has been tracking the views and behaviors of young consumers worldwide and expects consumers to spend up to $150 billion on sustainable products by 2021 in the U.S. alone. Savvy companies are adapting and responding by becoming more sustainable and engaging with young consumers to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

For retailers and advertisers looking to authentically connect with this critical consumer base, communicating how your product or brand positively contributes to a sustainable world is now a key attribute to any true value proposition. And for content creators and publishers, reflecting the challenges of the world that we live in—while opening up avenues to action that will resonate with Gen Z consumers’ drive to make a positive impact—will be key to building loyalty with an increasingly on-the-move segment.

What Can Companies Do To Engage Sustainable Generation Green Consumers

Here are four tactics and initiatives that companies can implement to respond to the digitally savvy sustainable consumer:

1. Have a Public Sustainability Statement and Dedicated Webpage

Most shoppers will go online to research products and services and often start with a visit to the website of the product maker or service provider.  Sustainable businesses can make consumers aware of their sustainable values and accomplishments via a section of their site dedicated to sustainability.  Big Rig Wraps, a Green Business Bureau member, provides a section of their site to discuss how serious they are about sustainability.  It includes a quote and mantra from the CEO: “Sustainability is more than recycling. It’s about using resources wisely and conscientiously to create a business that will thrive for generations, to be responsible in our consumption, and to encourage others to make less wasteful choices.”

2. Create an Internal Green Team to Oversee and Drive Sustainability

Companies need to engage their employees on sustainability and collaborate with them on their green initiatives.  These employees create a green culture that leads to an authentic engagement with customers about sustainable topics. In a recent Tech Target article on Employee Activism, CyberArk, a high tech company in Boston, discussed their green team and four subgroups: transportation, energy, community and “green” habits in the office  Collectively, these groups undertake a variety of actions such as volunteering on projects in the community, improving environmental practices in the office and working on bigger issues, such as installing electric vehicle charging stations for the office building. Their green employee culture becomes part of their brand identity and customer experience.

3. Be Responsive to Sustainable Customers and Active on Social Media

Companies should be open and responsive to green suggestions and even criticism’ from all their stakeholders including customers and employees.  Great companies are customer-centric and responsive to customers and great sustainable companies need to do the same with special attention paid to sustainability concerns and opportunities voiced by customers and employees. Most companies are already active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.  These are great channels to engage in sustainable topics with your customers, including the younger, more sustainably focused members of generation green. Chlorophyll Water is a young startup that uses their social media to discuss both their green product and their green initiatives. You can checkout the Chlorophyll Water Facebook page here.

4. Get Certified as a Sustainable Business

If you’re a business leader who believes social and environmental responsibility are just as important as profit, then you should consider formalizing your commitment via a 3rd party sustainability framework and certification.  An official certification can demonstrate your commitment to social and environmental causes in a credible and genuine way and help you stand out from the greenwashing that some companies unfortunately partake in. A formal sustainability and social responsibility program will also shift your corporate priorities from pure profit and help create a corporate culture that values all stakeholders – employees, customers, partners, the local community and the environment.  Green Business Bureau members often use the clickable GBB seal on their site to transparently show their public green business profile and GBB scorecard which includes a detailed list of completed green initiatives. Checkout how Rivalita Wines and iPlayAmerica demonstrate that commitment with the GBB seal directly on their homepage to elevate their brand.

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