What matters when Generation Z shops for clothes?

Generation Z (also referred to as Gen Z and Zoomers) is known for being concerned about social issues and sustainability. Zoomers tend to have high standards for a brand’s reputation as well as demand towards the company’s social position and activities in gaining sustainability. But when it comes to making decisions about buying clothes, does Gen Z put the values and corporate social responsibility (CSR) of a brand as top factors?

Generation Z as a customer group

As consumers generation Z has distinctive features. Gen Z is more likely to search for information about the product, company, and possible alternatives before purchasing it. Furthermore, they usually do not focus on specific brands. (Bewicke 2023.) A brand tag does not play a big role: many zoomers admit that their preferences do not limit them from buying unknown brands or brands they have not purchased from before (Tokareva 2023).

Image 1. To buy or not to buy? (Picture: Beliaikin 2019)

Based on studies many representatives of Generation Z are highly concerned about environmental and social issues and expect companies to match their ethics (Bewicke 2023). However, Zoomers also can feel if the brand’s claims are not sincere and honest. 88 % of Gen Z participants marked that they do not fully believe brands’ claims about social, economic, and environmental problems (Segel & Hatami 2023). Generation Z is also highly concerned about greenwashing ‒ false statements about brands’ sustainability that are used mostly for marketing purposes (Edwards 2023).

What affects Gen Z’s decisions?

When it comes to buying clothes, besides liking the design of the item, it seems that price and quality are still the main factors affecting Gen Z’s choice. Zoomers indicate that sustainability and the brand’s social position are important; however, it is not what they look for in the first place while making purchasing decisions for clothes. (Tokareva 2023.)

Even though Zoomers are concerned about sustainability, the majority of Gen Z do not consider sustainability as a top priority when shopping for apparel. Some Zoomers admit they wish it was more important for them. This opinion has its reasoning: Gen Z does not fully trust the claims of brands. In addition, they prefer buying less expensive clothes rather than more expensive ones with eco-label on them. (Tokareva 2023.)


Currently, Gen Z is not ready to start shopping only from proven sustainable, and ethical clothing brands. Zoomers are actively looking for a balance between supporting sustainability and buying from available mass-market brands that have more appealing prices. While price and quality remain primary factors, their concerns about the environment and social issues persist.

As Zoomers continue to shape consumer trends, it is important for brands to engage with them authentically and transparently in their sustainability efforts to meet their evolving expectations and to help Zoomers to put sustainability values into action.


Ekaterina Tokareva is a soon-to-be graduate bachelor of business administration student at LAB University of Applied Sciences.

Marja Viljanen works as a senior lecturer at LAB University of Applied Sciences.


Beliaikin, A. 2019. Clothing, garments, wear. Unsplash. Cited 2 Jun 2023. Available at https://unsplash.com/photos/l6JsDcL6Up0

Bewicke, H. 2023. Gen Z consumer behavior: What you need to know. Cited 2 Jun 2023. Available at https://www.talon.one/blog/gen-z-consumer-behavior-what-you-need-to-know

Edwards, C. 2023. What Is Greenwashing? Business News Daily. Cited 5 Jun 2023. Available at https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10946-greenwashing.html

Segel, L. H., Hatami, H. Mind the gap. 2023. McKinsey & Company. Cited 4 Jun 2023. . Available at https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/email/genz/2022/12/06/2022-12-06b.html

Tokareva, E. 2023. How Brand Values and Corporate Social Responsibility Affect Generation Z-Customers’ Choices in Apparel Industry. Bachelor´s thesis. LAB University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management. Lahti. Cited 4 Jun 2023. Available at https://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:amk-2023060823042