Ivy Jaguzny, youth activist and press lead at Zero Hour, explains to Wunderman Thompson Intelligence that many businesses have yet to recognize that inaction on climate is a dealbreaker for her generation: “There’s a difference between mentioning climate change and acting like our lives and our futures depend on it, because they do.”
Jaguzny points to Patagonia as a brand she feels comfortable supporting, a view echoed by other gen Zers in our research. The brand’s bold leadership sets a high bar and reflects the commitment of gen Z activists. Prior actions include closing stores and offices on the days of youth climate protests and suing the Trump administration to protect public lands. Patagonia also funds climate justice groups – an issue that resonates most strongly with this cohort. 82% of gen Z recognize that sustainability is inextricably linked to other problems we face, like poverty, equality and social justice.
Brands that hope to woo this generation must show leadership on the climate crisis (and other global challenges like social injustice and inequality) or forfeit their custom. Extinction Rebellion activist Will Skeaping tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence that time is running out: “If companies think gen Z audiences will give a flying sh*t about anything they’ve ever done, if they drop the ball on this, they’re over. That’s it.”
Soothing Gen Z’s Eco-Anxiety
Generation Z’s calls for change are in part propelled by genuine fears for their future.
“Climate change is honestly scary,” Jaguzny says. “Realistically, I’m not materially impacted. It’s just the stress of growing up with so much uncertainty and always feeling this looming threat over your head.”
For many like Jaguzny, eco-anxiety is real. 66% of all respondents express some anxiety about how climate change will affect them personally, rising to 72% of gen Z.