As we all know from experience, every generation shows a certain amount of rebellion, rejecting (to a greater or lesser degree) the values of previous generations.

It is not surprising, therefore, that according to research recently conducted by the NPD Group, (a national organization that studies consumer purchasing), U.S. consumers in the 18-to-34 age bracket are making purchases based largely on whether a brand’s values are in line with their own. In fact, sustainability guidelines and goals have taken on a new level of importance for younger consumers as they select apparel and footwear.

The following conclusions were based on a study of footwear purchasing:

* While sustainability and social issues concern consumers of all ages, the 18-to-34 bracket is most likely to indicate that sustainability in their footwear choices is “very important.”

* More than one-quarter of consumers are willing to pay “a little more” for eco-friendly footwear.

* More than one-quarter of consumers are familiar with some of the top sustainable footwear brands. The number climbs to approximately 40 percent among 18- to 34-year-olds.

* Approximately 80 percent of the study’s consumers stated issues such as a brand’s commitment to animal welfare, waste reduction, pollution reduction, energy conservation or water conservation efforts are important to them.

* Approximately 30 percent of the consumers surveyed have heard about footwear made from alternative materials. Awareness is highest in the  18-to-34 bracket, at 46 percent. Consumers overall are most aware of sustainable leather alternatives, followed by recycled plastic bottles and recycled fabric.

The bottom line: While sustainability and conservation efforts are most importantly about saving the planet, they’re also smart business.

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