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Exploring ethical consumption of generation Z: theory of planned behaviour

Elmira Djafarova (Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Sophie Foots (Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 31 January 2022

Issue publication date: 6 July 2022




This study aims to explore the factors that encourage Generation Z consumers to turn an ethical purchase intention into purchase behaviour. Theory of planned behaviour model is applied to understand the Generation Z ethical consumerism.


Qualitative method in the form of 18 semi-structured interviews was conducted on participants aged within the Generation Z cohort in the UK.


Research findings show that Generation Z has strong awareness and desire towards ethical and environmental issues. Driven in the main by the cohorts unlimited exposure to social media platforms and online resources where information is shared. Generation Z’s frugality limits them to purchase truly ethically in their current life stage. Financial aspirations from this target market suggest a future desire to purchase high value ethical items. Further trends discovered highlighted sustainable lifestyle choices within the generation. Recycling, diet choices and reduced consumption on clothing were expressed. The paper highlights that Generation Z are aware of ethical issues prevalent in society and are doing what they can at this life stage to make a positive impact.

Practical implications

This research has valuable implications for both academics and marketers. It provides new insights for scholars into understanding Generation Z decision-making in ethical consumption. It successfully applied the Theory of Planned Behaviour to understand generational consumer behaviour. The findings can assist practitioners to determine effective marketing strategies to persuade Generation Z to act ethically. The research can also be considered when dealing with government legislation when tackling social change in younger population as this appeared important factor for the researched consumers. Marketers should also consider digital influencers as part of their communication campaigns targeting Generation Z users.


This search offers a valuable contribution to current academic findings towards Generation Z research as ethical consumers incorporating TPB framework.



Djafarova, E. and Foots, S. (2022), "Exploring ethical consumption of generation Z: theory of planned behaviour", Young Consumers, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 413-431.



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