Oct 14, 2021
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Gen X drive biggest shift in sustainable shopping - report

Oct 14, 2021

As over a third of Britons change their buying behaviour, it’s not Gen Z who are driving the biggest shift in shopping sustainably, but older shopping groups.

Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

That’s according to new research from strategy consultant OC&C. Its annual Retail Proposition Index (RPI), which surveys 40,000 consumers globally on their shopping habits and perceptions of top retailers, has found that £150 billion of retail spend is now controlled by consumers actively choosing to buy from sustainable brands – mostly driven by Gen X and Millennials.

For the UK, 71% of adults now report caring about the environment and changing their behaviour compared to 44% in 2019. 

In terms of how that translates into actual behaviour across the population, as many as 35% of UK shoppers are now actively buying from more sustainable brands.

The fact that this is being driven by older shoppers is significant because they have a higher overall retail spend than Gen Z.

Sohini Pramanick, Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said: “Consumer behaviour and habits have long been a focus for retailers, however in a post-pandemic world it has never been as important as now. Brands face a tipping point as all generations are shunning old habits and actively shopping sustainably. It is vital that retailers recognise this change in consumer behaviour and put sustainability front and centre of their business strategy. [It] makes good business sense and is non-negotiable to the consumer.” 

The survey also showed a divergence in terms of age groups between those embracing online and those shopping in physical locations with the pandemic having sparked change here as well. While Baby Boomers were most averse to shopping online pre-pandemic, the opposite is now true. And Gen Z — the digital-native generation — is now the group most keen to get back to physical shopping.

Baby Boomers intend to do 39% of their shopping online (which compares to a smaller 30% pre-Covid), demonstrating the growing attraction of the convenience offered by online channels. 

Gen Z, however, is the demographic most eager to get back into stores. The research showed that this younger demographic sees shopping as experiential and an opportunity to socialise and spend time with friends and family. 

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