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Consumers want to shop sustainably, what are the opportunities for brands?

By Don-Alvin Adegeest

24 Oct 2022

Retail |Report

Image: Sustainable shopping via Pexels

Consumers are weighing sustainability decisions when it comes to shopping for clothing, with half of shoppers expected to consider the environmental impact of what they buy.

The data comes from Bain & Company and WWF Italy’s latest report, which says shopping and purchasing trends among global fashion consumers are shifting towards sustainable practices in the coming years, creating new opportunities as well as challenges for fashion brands.

Research from ‘How Brands Can Embrace the Sustainable Fashion Opportunity’, Bain and WWF find 15 percent of global fashion consumers are already highly concerned about sustainability and consistently make purchasing decisions to lower their impact. But the report concludes that this percentage is will quickly grow to more than half of fashion consumers as more shoppers gravitate toward sustainable practices.

65 percent of consumers care about the environment

The report, which examines consumer behaviors related to sustainability and fashion, shows that of the nearly 5,900 fashion consumers across six countries (China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US) that Bain surveyed, approximately 65 percent said they care about the environment, but only some regularly prioritize sustainability in their shopping.

“Sustainable shopping is an inevitable change. Concern for sustainability is strong among younger generations – and growing overall. Hence, fashion brands need to embrace the sustainability conversation and make sustainable purchasing easier for all consumers. Brands that proactively design sustainability into their strategy and operations will cement their relevance and capture a windfall of unmet demand, now and into the future,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, global head of Fashion & Luxury at Bain & Company. “In fact, everyone will benefit from a commitment to sustainability from the fashion industry”.

Distinguishing sustainable fashion is a challenge for shoppers

In the report, Bain and WWF found a third of consumers unable to distinguish sustainable products or brands from those that aren’t. That challenge increases with age. One out of three Baby Boomer and Silent Generation respondents said they don’t know where to find sustainability information for brands or products. By comparison, only one out of five Gen Z and Gen Y/Millennial respondents reported the same difficulty.

Be transparent

In order to accelerate sustainable shopping, in-store displays, labels, and product descriptions need to be clear, easily available, and reliable, says the report. Best-in-class brands already include supply chain and partner information, material descriptions, and stories about the communities involved in the making of their clothing. Shedding light on their production processes engages consumers in a genuine and transparent way. Product packaging is another means to communicate (and practice) sustainability.

Appeal to value-driven shoppers

Brands can capitalise on the quality and durability aspects of sustainable fashion and appeal to value-seeking shoppers, as long as they achieve durability without compromising any social or environmental factors. By positioning durability as an element of sustainable fashion, brands offer consumers a win-win situation.

Sustainable shopping should be easy

Many shoppers follow the path of least resistance; their shopping habits are driven by convenience rather than social impact or public opinion. But with simpler and more convenient options, they would increase their sustainable purchasing.

Have a sustainability mission

Brands that proactively design sustainability into their strategy and operations will cement their relevance and capture a windfall of unmet demand, now and into the future. Most consumers want to purchase more sustainably; they just need help doing so.

“Fashion brands are on the cusp of a great opportunity but are often overwhelmed by complexity, especially along lengthy supply chains. Brands have a social role in this epoch-making change: they are called to address the information gap, engage consumers on product durability and impact; and make sustainable purchases more convenient and appealing. This will make them successful, while help shifting consumers toward more sustainable consumption,”, concluded Federica Levato, senior partner at Milan’s office and EMEA Leader of Fashion & Luxury at Bain.

Article source: 'How Brands Can Embrace the Sustainable Fashion Opportunity,' Bain & Company and WWF Italy

Bain&Company
Sustainable Fashion