Amazon and Walmart Court Zillennials’ Loyalty With Sustainability Initiatives

As Amazon and Walmart look to secure the affinity of young consumers whose spending power is on the rise, the two retail giants are looking for new ways to meet Zillennials’ demand for more sustainable practices.

Amazon, for its part, announced Thursday (June 20) that it has substituted almost all of the plastic air pillows it used to cushion packages with paper filler in North America, aiming to completely eliminate these plastics before the year’s end.

“We are working towards full removal in North America by end of year and will continue to innovate, test, and scale in order to prioritize curbside recyclable materials,” Pat Lindner, the eCommerce giant’s VP of Mechatronics and Sustainable Packaging, said in a statement.

The company also highlighted, in Thursday’s blog post, its partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop more sustainable materials as well as its efforts to use artificial intelligence (AI) to more effectively sort recyclables.

Walmart, meanwhile, announced Thursday a partnership with agricultural supply intelligence company Agritask to improve its ability to make choices about produce sourcing for crops such as cherries and blackberries. The initiative, part of Walmart Global Tech’s Sparkcubate program, will use Agritask’s remote sensing and data analytics tools to provide real-time insights on crop conditions in the U.S. and Mexico.

“Teaming up with Agritask enables Walmart to delve into more streamlined and sustainable sourcing practices, ensuring we consistently deliver fresh, high-quality products to meet customer demand,” Kyle Carlyle, Walmart’s vice president of sourcing innovation and surety of supply, said in a statement.

Pending successful results, Walmart may expand the use of Agritask’s technology to enhance supply chain management and ensure fresh produce availability.

These moves come as Amazon and Walmart look to woo the eco-minded Zillennial shopper. Zillennials, the bridge generation born between 1991 and 1999 spanning younger millennials and older members of Generation Z, prove a valuable demographic whose loyalty for retailers to win now, with their growing earning and purchasing power. These consumers are far likelier than the population overall to have sustainability concerns drive their purchasing decisions, per data from the PYMNTS Intelligence special report “Generation Zillennial.”

The study, which draws from a survey of more than 3,000 U.S. consumers, finds that not only are Zillennial shoppers disproportionately likely to consider the climate-related matters when choosing where to shop, but also that these concerns are their top priority when it comes to environmental and social factors. Forty-three percent of Zillennials, versus 31% of consumers overall, said that it was very or extremely important to them when choosing a merchant that the merchant offers sustainable brands or products. This share is greater than said the same of any other such concern. 

Overall, Amazon is in the lead when it comes to consumers’ retail spending. The PYMNTS Intelligence Whole Paycheck Report, which examines the market shares of Amazon and Walmart across various sectors based on earnings reports as well as data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The most such recent report, titled “New Consumer Spend Data Finds Amazon Way Ahead of Walmart,” calculates that Amazon secures 10% of overall consumer retail expenditure, compared to Walmart’s 7.3%.

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