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5 Stats Brands Should Know About Young Consumers & Climate Change

YPulse revisited young people’s thoughts on sustainability post-COVID, and we’re sharing five stats that brands need to understand…


Last year, when we asked young people the biggest problems they believe they face, racism and COVID-19 were, understandably, at the top of the list. But in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19, YPulse let you know that though other issues were of course top of mind for these generations, climate change would still matter to them.

Our recent sustainability report revisited the issue in a post-COVID world, and found without a doubt that this issue is still vitally important to Gen Z and Millennials—even as other problems dominate their everyday lives. Here are five stats about young consumers and climate change that brands should know:

Two in five worry about climate change every week.

When we ask young consumers how often they worry about climate change, only 15% of 13-39-year-olds said “never.” Over half say they worry about climate change regularly, with 39% telling us they worry about it every week. Millennials are even more likely to be worrying about the issue with regularity, and 20% of 20-39-year-olds report worrying about it daily. These are anxious generations, with good reason. Gen Z and Millennials have grown up being taught that their resources are at risk, and with every extreme weather event their fears about climate change are reignited. For many young people, climate change is an issue that is almost always on their minds.

The majority believe that climate change is an immediate threat to human life.

It’s not a surprise that so many have climate change on their minds when 72% of young people tell us they agree that climate change is an immediate threat to human life. Again, Millennials feel more strongly than Gen Z on this, with 75% of 20-39-year-olds agreeing it’s an immediate threat versus 62% of 13-19-year-olds—but it’s a clear majority of both groups. And while the majority of all ethnic and racial groups agree with the statement, BIPOC young consumers are more likely to agree than white/non-Hispanic young consumers. Brands should understand that this issue isn’t just a bumper sticker for young people: it’s something they feel could change their lives. In fact, the majority of young people tell YPulse they have changed how they think about their future because of climate change.

Three in five believe their personal behavior has the potential to help stop climate change.

But it’s also important to note that young people haven’t given up hope: the majority (63%) agree with the statement “My personal behavior has the potential to help stop climate change.” What’s more, over half disagree that “It’s too late to reverse the damage done by climate change.” The fact that they believe their personal behavior can help stop climate change means that some are changing their behaviors because of this issue. The majority (71%) tell YPulse they do whatever they can to live sustainably on a daily basis. What exactly have they changed? Well…

Over a third have changed the products they buy because of climate change.

When we ask all young consumers what they’ve changed because of climate change, 70% say they have changed some element of their behavior or purchasing. The top thing they have changed is the products they buy, with 37% say they have done so. Meanwhile, 27% have changed the way they shop and 26% have changed the amount of products they buy. Once again, Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to have changed behaviors across the board—likely because they are more anxious about climate change in general, but potentially also because of their relatively stronger spending power. With bigger budgets Millennials are more able to choose products that are eco-friendly, and usually carry a higher price tag. Gen Z are also more likely than Millennials to say “I’d like to buy more eco-friendly products, but I care about price more.”

Most believe that corporations should take more responsibility for fighting climate change.

Of course, these generations do not think they should be fighting climate change alone. The majority (82%) agree with the statement “Corporations (e.g. companies, brands) should take more responsibility for fighting climate change.” In fact, climate change/environmental efforts are in the top ten ranking of social causes Gen Z and Millennials would like to see brands involved in. When we ask them about specific actions brands should be taking, creating more eco-friendly products and packaging were at the top of the list. We recently shared the eco-friendly products that these generations are most interested in purchasing, and found across the board, from sustainably sourced foods to eco-friendly beauty products, the majority of young consumers are either already purchasing or interested in purchasing eco-friendly products.


YPulse Business users can access the full Sustainability report and data here.

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