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Fashion customers want to purchase more from retailers with strong environmental practices but the price has to be right

Posted: 11/12/2019

Although more than three quarters of consumers would like to shop more from retailers with strong environmental values, only 39% would be willing to pay more for ethical brands, according to a new report. 

The report is the second in a series on Understanding and Influencing the Customer Journey for Fashion from law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper and specialist consultancy Retail Economics. It focuses on purchasing, the second stage of the customer journey, and examines the key trends that are changing the landscape for fashion retailing and raising the bar even higher for retailers to win and keep customers. These trends include the continuous rise in online sales, the increasing influence of social media, the ongoing customer desire for the new, and the shift towards conscious consumption to extend the lifespan of fashion.

But meeting the twin demands for “fresher fashion faster” for wannabe social media stars and sustainable and ethical strategies for the rapidly rising numbers of ethically conscious customers adds yet another layer of complexity and challenge for those retailers who are already struggling to respond to rapid shifts in consumer purchasing habits.

Generation Z (18-24 year olds) is the most fashion-conscious group with 31% buying clothes at least once a fortnight – compared to just 8% of Generation X (45-54). But two fifths of shoppers have donated or traded-in second-hand clothing to a retailer and 72% of those who have not donated would consider doing so in the future.

Matthew Martin, Penningtons Manches Cooper’s co-head of fashion and luxury brands team, which acts for a number of high profile brands including Farfetch said: “With fashion retail sales under pressure as consumers remain cautious in regards to discretionary spending, business models that attract a new type of customer looking for pre-owned clothing, or that provides access rather than ownership, is a strategy that an increasing number of retailers are adopting to bolster revenue and extend the lifespan of clothing at the same time.”

Commenting on the report findings, Richard Lim, chief executive officer, Retail Economics, said: “There’s no escaping that fashion retail is increasingly moving online. And consumers have never had so much access to media to inform purchases, from online reviews to social influencers. But the rapid rise of social media has driven a desire – or perhaps pressure – to be seen in fresh outfits more often, which is being supported by fast fashion retail.

“At the same time, consumers are becoming more concerned about their impact on the environment. The balance between price and sustainability certainly leaves a curious place for clothing rentals and pre-owned markets, as shoppers and retailers attempt to ‘do the right thing’, simultaneously increasing the lifespan of clothing before it hits landfill and providing a value alternative.”

The report used data collected through a consumer survey conducted by Retail Economics of over 2,000 nationally representative individuals in September 2019.

FIND OUT MORE: To download the report, please click here.

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