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Gen Z consumers’ sustainable consumption behaviors: influencers and moderators

Ali Kara (Penn State University, PA, York, USA)
Maung K. Min (Penn State University, PA, Lehigh Valley, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 31 July 2023

Issue publication date: 2 January 2024




The purpose of this study is to explore Generation Z (Gen Z) consumers’ sustainable consumption behaviors at a university campus by examining various antecedent and moderating influencers of their sustainable consumption behaviors.


A quantitative research methodology is used in this study. A structured questionnaire was administered (n = 279) to young college students (Gen Z consumers in the context of this study) enrolled at a large state university in the USA. The structural equation model was used to test the hypothesized relationships in the conceptualized model.


Study findings show that social responsibility (feelings, engagement and expectations) and external incentives (material and social) positively influence Gen Z consumers’ sustainability interests, which in turn influences their sustainable consumption behaviors (actions). Collectivist cultural values did not appear to have any statistically significant effect on Gen Z consumers’ sustainable consumption interests. Moreover, learned helplessness, perceived barriers and the awareness of the consequences of sustainability consumption actions did not have any significant moderating effect on Gen Z consumers’ sustainable consumption behavior.

Research limitations/implications

The questionnaire was only sent to students majoring in business degrees, which may limit the generalizability of this study to broader Gen Z consumer populations. Expanding this study to include non-business students may be valuable as a next step. Replicating this study in different cultural environments of international countries could enhance the relationships identified in this study.

Practical implications

Consumer social responsibility education along with material and social incentives will encourage Gen Z consumers’ participation in sustainable behaviors at college campuses.


This research provides valuable insights into understanding the importance of consumer social responsibility and external incentives in influencing Gen Z consumers’ sustainable consumption intentions and behaviors. Accordingly, consumer social responsibility education and incentive programs need to be developed to encourage the participation of Gen Z consumers in sustainable consumption.



Kara, A. and Min, M.K. (2024), "Gen Z consumers’ sustainable consumption behaviors: influencers and moderators", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 124-142.



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