The Next Generation


What do Generation Z and sustainability have in common? Quite a lot.

Gen Z Shoppers are at your door.

When I first started working with the International Sleep Products Association in 2014, everyone seemed to be focused on marketing to millennials. Who were they? What were their purchasing habits? They were digital natives — the first generation to grow up with the internet. What did that mean for brick-and-mortar retailers?

But time marches on, and here we are, looking at the next generation poised to start mattress shopping.

Like millennials, Generation Z is digitally savvy. They move from online to in-person shopping and back again without too much thought. Unless, of course, a retailer makes it difficult for them to seamlessly shop that way. Then they won’t be back. 

Check out Julie A. Palm’s cover article on Gen Z. It contains great insight on these young shoppers — the oldest are in their mid-20s — and tips for how to reach them as they begin graduating from college and setting up homes. 

As every generation that has gone before, Gen Z has been shaped by cultural and current events. This is a group that values authenticity and wants to shop from retailers that align with their values. What are those values? Practicality, for one. Gen Zers are budget conscious, having lost a job or watched a loved one go through job loss in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s small wonder that a Deloitte survey found that 29% worry about the cost of living and 20% worry about unemployment. 

And right in the middle of those worries is concern about climate change, cited by 24% of respondents. As Palm wrote, “This is a generation that will appreciate the bedding industry’s growing focus on creating sustainable products and circular economies and reducing its environmental footprint. By touting those efforts and continuing to build on them, you’ll create loyalty among Generation Z.”

I’ve been heartened to see a growing focus on sustainability in the bedding industry. Just take a look at the Las Vegas Market introductions and you’ll see recycled content in fabric, recyclable and biodegradable boxed bed bases, and smaller adjustable bases that lessen transportation costs and the carbon footprint. At ISPA EXPO in March, we saw a number of components and machines designed to promote recycling or offer sustainable alternatives.

In fact, sustainability has become such an important issue that ISPA is holding its first Sustainability Conference Nov. 16-17 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Its goal is to bring together bedding makers, suppliers, retailers and nonprofit professionals who want to learn and share knowledge about sustainability in the bedding industry. It’s for all levels of knowledge and experience. Visit to register. 

Think of it as a way to understand what’s important to the next generation of shoppers. They are at your door.