How do retailers and brands overcome consumers’ ‘green’ skepticism?
A new survey finds U.S. consumers want to make more environmentally-friendly choices when shopping for apparel, but many are held back by a lack of availability and trustworthy information on what makes clothing more (or less) sustainable.
The survey of about 2,000 U.S. consumers from clean manufacturer Genomatica found that 86 percent believe sustainability is a good goal. Nearly three in four (72 percent) have heard of environmental sustainability issues in the fashion industry — listing excess consumption, carbon emissions and water pollution from dye processes as issues they’re aware of.
Forty-two percent, however, are confused about what makes apparel sustainable.
Other findings also point to consumers’ related frustrations:
- Eighty-eight percent of consumers don’t immediately trust brands that say they’re sustainable and half (51 percent) believe “greenwashing” is common in the fashion industry.
- Fifty-five percent want apparel brands to help them understand how their products are more sustainable than alternatives.
- Half say that a sustainability label would help them identify sustainable clothes while shopping.
In other categories, a recent survey conducted on behalf of Whole Foods found 75 percent of Americans say, when grocery shopping, it’s important to them that products are responsibly sourced, but 65 percent are confused about how to determine if it’s accurate of such products.
Whole Foods released the survey while launching its “Sourced for Good” seal for products certified by groups such as Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade America, Fair Food Program and Equitable Food Initiative.
In the beauty category, a recent study commissioned by haircare brand weDo/Professional found 57 percent of U.K. respondents consider themselves to be sustainable and ethical shoppers, but 61 percent struggle to tell if hair and skincare products are ethical from the packaging and 55 percent don’t usually check the eco credentials of makeup and hair care as they feel they have “no choice” but to buy items that aren’t sustainable and animal friendly.
The confusion appears similar to complaints over organic and natural labeling in food, although sustainability spans across industries and appears more complex with many linking the movement solely to environmentalism.
- Survey: 1 in 3 U.S. consumers would do all their shopping at a sustainable clothing store, if only one existed – Genomatica
- Whole Foods Market launches Sourced for Good seal to help customers identify products that support workers, communities and the environment – Whole Foods Market
- Ethical Buying Habits: An Insight into the Minds of Sustainable Shoppers – weDo/Professional
- Why everyone is confused about what ‘eco-friendly’ actually means and what companies can do about it. – Fast Company
- Global sweep finds 40% of firms’ green claims could be misleading – ICPEN
- Study: Consumers confuse natural and organic labels – Produce Grower
- American consumers confused over term “organic” – Food Engineering
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you generally find yourself skeptical of sustainability claims made by brands and retailers and do you think others do as well? What steps can brands and retailers take to address this skepticism and build a competitive point of difference in the marketplace?