As a Gen Z’er, I’m part of the first truly digital native generation. Let’s talk about what that means:
We grew up googling for information any time we needed answers to our questions. When something big happened in the world, it would go viral on social media, and conversation surrounding it would explode. We’ve grown up watching large corporations/brands, banks, government and other institutions embroiled in corruption scandals, so we’ve all developed a healthy skepticism and critical eye. We can see through inauthenticity.
Thanks to our nearly unlimited access to information, my generation has developed a passion for many causes and has high expectations of the brands we choose to shop. We’re seeing and experiencing the effects of climate change, and we’re watching as laborers around the world are mistreated. This has led us to be more discriminating about the brands we shop and to demand better practices from them.
Our experiences have led us to genuinely wanting to make the world a better place. The majority of my generation considers themselves to be socially conscious (source), and that means that we want to see brands that are transparent, authentic, and ethical, do good, and have sustainable practices that don’t hurt the planet.
I’m going to address two things that are very important to me and my peers: sustainability and ethical practices.
The wellbeing of the environment has been on a steady decline for decades, and my generation is painfully aware of the impact of climate change. We appreciate brands taking action towards reducing their ecological footprint; for example, Starbucks recently switched to providing paper straws over plastic ones at select locations, and Nike has begun to manufacture their clothing with zero water and waste.
Some brands proactively make brand decisions with the environment in mind. One is Zao, an organic makeup brand that uses environmentally-friendly bamboo for their product containers which can be refilled once the consumers have finished the product. Companies like Zao are setting a positive example for the industry and making a difference, and I believe that by supporting them, consumers (like me!) are, too.
ETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES
Unfortunately, the mistreatment of workers in the fashion and beauty industries has been rampant for decades, only coming to light more recently thanks to the rapid spread of information on social media. Gen Z’ers like me make an effort to seek out brands that compensate their workers fairly and treat their employees with dignity.
Patagonia is one major brand that has been in the spotlight for maintaining high ethical standards for its business practices, providing excellent healthcare and paid paternity/maternity leave as well as prioritizing safe working conditions. There are also countless small brands that are committed to ethical practices, and supporting such businesses is a priority to my generation as well.
Thanks to the power of social media, our generation has been a vital part of a movement for more conscious consumerism. At the click of a button, we can find out all there is to know about a brand, and we’re reading with a critical eye. We believe in the power of our choices and voting with our dollars. So, brands, if you’re looking for our attention, please be sure you stand for something.
At Smith Design, our culture is rooted in caring. We make a conscious and collective effort to translate our values into actions that benefit our staff, our clients, our community and our environment.