Ideas shaping consumer behavior in 2023: Values shopping

This is the first in a series of columns on the consumer trends to look out for in 2023, including the emergence of artificial intelligence, changes in influencer marketing and the buying power of Gen Z, the first fully internet-native generation and also the first to prioritize environmentally conscious shopping.

In this column, I’ll focus on that last trend: the shopping habits of Gen Z. As the youngest consumers, they may not be spending a fortune money at luxury retailers or hiring designers for a whole-home makeover, but their preferences will shape home furnishings sales in years to come.

Here are two things to keep in mind: They are great at researching products, and they are way past greenwashing.

Here are examples of retailers that are making it easy and appealing for Gen Z to shop them: 

A first love for secondhand stores

Secondhand fashion and furniture have become a huge market and will continue to boom. Sites like The RealReal and Chairish focus on hyper-curated, vetted, preloved luxury products. Shopping these brands is less about price shopping or trying to find a deal and more about about uniqueness and upcycling. It’s not even really about the nostalgia of vintage aesthetics either. Many of these pre-loved products are from last year’s launches. It’s still a luxury vehicle; it just has 6,000 miles on it. 

Tracking values

Consider a site like Etsy, which is a marketplace empowering small makers on a large e-commerce scale. It recently added a “Your Impact” tab where you can review your purchases based on the values such as “Small Business,” “Carbon Offsets” or “Vintage,” along with algorithmically suggested tips on how to “Shop Your Values” on the platform. 

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The appeal of mushrooms, seaweed and banana

Big retailers like H&M are ahead of the curve when it comes to utilizing sustainable fabrics derived from mushrooms and seaweed in its clothing collections. This is a major selling point for Gen Z. The retailer is using Bananatex (you guessed it — fabric derived from banana plants) in a new sneaker collaboration. Expect the retailer to adopt the same sustainable approach in its expansion of its home category, as well. Danish furniture company Softline is utilizing Bananatex in its design of a new daybed. 

My next column will delve into technologies and marketing techniques that help consumers to find and vet sustainably focused brands. 

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