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Sustainability: Do Our Consumers Really Care?

September 18, 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters

One topic that’s not been far from people’s lips is that of sustainability. If it’s not David Attenborough highlighting the many natural problems in the four corners of the world, we’re considering whether to lower our meat intake or switch to an electric car. The same can be said for everyday and fashion consumerism, as many brands are looking towards the more ethical strategies in principles to keep in line with the seeming demand. As COVID-19 has taken over public thinking, do we really still care about being sustainable?

Is anyone interested?

The answers to many of our questions and concerns lies in the consumer data. According to surveys carried out by Emotional Logic, 55% of customers are actually now more concerned about being sustainable as the pandemic has unfolded, with 76% actually hoping the events of 2020 will serve as a turning point towards a more ethically produced future of consumption. However, the idea of continuing to consume fashion in the ways that we once have are beginning to waver, with 71% of consumers citing they will throw their fashion purchases out less frequently, with 65% looking to invest in longer lasting, high quality items. Even when it comes to travel 32% of people will be looking to keep things domestic, adding to the long-term uncertainty of global fashion events such as trade shows.

What can be done to harness this?

Despite this apparent change in attitude, it is still quite clear that many are unwilling to take much action towards it. Sustainability is certainly a growing sector but it is still not the main driver in consumer behaviour, with options such as price, quality and convenience still taking priority. Adding to this, not all ethical issues are seen as having equal attention – people want their change to have an ease about them, being low-risk hopefully producing a higher take-up. With obvious behaviour changing campaigns not as easy to execute, what can brands look to if this is already in their values and ethos?

In short, business can best tackle sustainability by being a leading example and acting on the behalf of the consumer. Yes, the demand for sustainable change is certainly there and continues to remain at the forefront of the customer mind, but that change is wanted in a convenient way. People want to use truly recyclable packaging and trust the system in place to do that, so brands must align with that thinking. There is no question that being a sustainable brand can give businesses the edge in these trying times, with consumers prompted to pick when presented with ethical alternatives. Alongside this, an ethical stance is proving to be fuelling brand growth and innovation, with changes in development producing extra profit when planned wisely. There is an added importance on targeting and segmentation, as not all consumer demographics are after the same types of changes. The road may be a challenging one, but the demand for sustainable action certainly does need to be supplied.

Image source: Shutterstock


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