Shameek Ghosh is CEO and co-founder of TrusTrace, a leading platform for supply chain traceability within fashion and retail.You don’t need me to tell you that supply chains have been in the headlines lately. Or that, with the rise of globalization, they’ve become almost unknowable—long, far-reaching, complex and largely characterized by limited visibility. When they fail in some way, it’s hard to know exactly why. It’s certainly hard to know if the products that flow through supply chains are sustainable.
Reducing supply chain complexity and increasing visibility can bring a host of business benefits (greater efficiency, lower costs, etc.), but a key reason that brands need to get a better handle on their supply chains is that their customers are watching. And they’re making purchasing decisions based on what they see (or believe they see). Plus, it turns out, in the case of influential Generation Z consumers, their parents are watching, too.
You also don’t need me to tell you that Generation Z harbors strong beliefs. They care about the environment and social justice, among other important things. And they’re ready to put their wallets where their principles are, especially when it comes to sustainability. According to a November 2021 study by First Insight and the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, 75% of Gen Z consumers say sustainability is more important than brand name when making a purchasing decision, and the vast majority of Gen Z is willing to pay more money for sustainable products.
They’re not the only ones. Having watched their Gen Z kids grow up and puzzled over some of their defining characteristics—raised on social media, attached to their smartphones, committed to environmental justice—Generation X has started to get with the program: In the First Insight/Wharton School study, nearly the same share of Gen X buyers considers sustainability over brand as Gen Z, and 67% of Gen Xers prefer to buy from sustainable companies—a figure that has grown almost 24% in just a year. In other words, Gen Z influencers are influencing others to buy sustainable, responsibly sourced products.