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Sustainability as a Trend in Fashion Industry. An Empirical Study about Changing Consumer Behaviour

Master's Thesis 2017 117 Pages

Business economics - Marketing, Corporate Communication, CRM, Market Research, Social Media

Excerpt

Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

Abstract

Theoretical Part

1 Introduction to the Topic of Sustainability as a Trend in Fashion Industry
1.1 Objective of the Present Study
1.2 Structure of the Present Study

2 Fundamentals of Sustainable Fashion
2.1 Concept of Sustainability
2.2 Concept of Fashion
2.3 Fast Fashion versus Slow Fashion

3 Sustainability as a Trend in Fashion Industry
3.1 Corporate Social Responsibility in Fashion Industry
3.2 Life Cycle Assessment of Fashion Products
3.3 Supply Chain in Fashion Industry

4 Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
4.1 Buying Behaviour Process
4.1.1 Activating Sub-Process
4.1.2 Cognitive Sub-Process
4.1.3 Predisposing Sub-Process
4.1.3.1 Involvement
4.1.3.2 Social Determinants
4.1.3.3 Cultural Determinants
4.2 Development of Sustainable Consumer Behaviour
4.2.1 Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability
4.2.2 Conscious Consumer Behaviour
4.3 Drivers of Buying Decision in Sustainable Fashion
4.4 Barriers of Buying Decision in Sustainable Fashion
4.5 After-Purchase Behaviour in Fashion
4.6 Sustainable Fashion Knowledge
4.7 Attitude-Behaviour Gap in Sustainable Fashion

5 Forecast of Future Development regarding Sustainability in Fashion

Empirical Part

6 Hypothesis Formation on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion Industry
6.1 Buying Attributes of Conscious Consumers
6.2 Consumer’ s Sustainable Knowledge on Fashion Brands
6.3 Willingness to Pay for Sustainable Fashion
6.4 After-Purchase Behaviour by Gender
6.5 Impulsiveness of Buying Decisions in Fashion

7 Study Design of Survey on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
7.1 Questionnaire on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
7.2 Implementation of Survey on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion

8 Study Results of Survey on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
8.1 Group Formation for Survey on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
8.2 Hypotheses Results
8.2.1 Buying Attributes of Conscious Consumers
8.2.2 Consumer’s Knowledge on Fashion Brands
8.2.3 Willingness to Pay for Sustainable Fashion
8.2.4 After-Purchase Behaviour by Gender
8.2.5 Impulsiveness of Buying Decisions in Fashion

9 Discussion of Survey Results on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
9.1 Hypotheses Examination of Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
9.1.1 Buying Attributes of Conscious Consumers
9.1.2 Consumer’s Knowledge on Fashion Brands
9.1.3 Willingness to Pay for Sustainable Fashion
9.1.4 After-Purchase Behaviour by Gender
9.1.5 Impulsiveness of Buying Decisions in Fashion
9.2 Limitations of Study on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion
9.3 Implementation for Fashion Industry based on Study on Consumer Behaviour

10 Conclusion of Study on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion Industry

Bibliography

Appendix

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

Appendix F

List of Tables

Table 1: Methods Used in Results Analysis

Table 2: Buying Choices Directly Questioned

Table 3: Ignorance of Green Fashion Brands by Consumer Groups

Table 4: Price Sensitivity of Consumers

Table 5: Significance Test on Attributes of After-Purchase Usage by Gender

Table 6: Significance Tests of Impulsive Bevahiour by Consumer Groups

List of Figures

Figure 1: Response Overview

Figure 2: Group Formation by Consciousness

Figure 3: Group Formation by Gender

Figure 4: Assessment of Attributes in Sustainable Fashion

Figure 5: AHP Output by Conscious and Non-conscious Group

Figure 6: Status Quo of Transparency Level by Greenpeace

Figure 7: Customer Perception of Sustainability of Fashion Brands

Figure 8: Accordance with After-Purchase Usage Attributes by Gender

Figure 9: Impulsive Buying Behaviour by Consciousness

Figure 10: Impulsive Buying Behaviour by Gender

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Abstract

Purpose - A trend in society to take care of environmental issues is observed and the generation born around the millennium shift between 1980 and 2000, so called generation Y, became a growing consumer market in Germany. Fashion is one of the most con- sumed segments by the Millennials, who value transparent production and are sensitive to environmental issues at the same time. This study seeks to provide a current status of the generation Y’s knowledge, attitude and behaviour in regards to fashion consumption with the impact of sustainability

Methodology of Present Study - A literature review and an online survey have been conducted to analyse the consumer behaviour of 84 Generation Y consumers, aged 17 to 37 in 2017

Findings - The major result shows that there is no significant difference in attitude and behaviour towards a sustainable development between consumers that live a conscious life and conventional consumers. Sustainability as a topic has reached Millennials, who should further deepen their knowledge in order to foster a sustainable development in fashion

Keywords - Sustainable Fashion, Fashion, Sustainability, Green Fashion, Eco Fashion, Generation Y, Millennials, Consumer Behaviour, Conscious Consumer Behaviour, Appar- el Industry

1 Introduction to the Topic of Sustainability as a Trend in Fashion Industry

“Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites”- this quote by William Ruckelshaus, a US politician from the 1960s, precisely captures the need to constantly monitor consumption behaviour in order to protect the entailing impacts on the environment in our daily life.

The enormous apparel consumption makes the fashion industry the second largest global polluter after the oil industry (Eco Watch 2015). Fashion consumption turned up its speed beyond recognition (Black 2013, p.23), what forms the exact opposite to sustainable development (Matthews 2011, p.117).

Due to high competitiveness in the sector (ibid.p.1), fashion houses exert pressure on fast and low-cost production that is typically located in under-developed countries (see Fletch- er 2014, p.131; ILO 2014, p.3) such as Bangladesh and India (ILO 2014, p.9). Orders are being made in short-term basis and as a consequence the suppliers cannot calculate the exact workforce needed for long-term employment schemes (Hartmann 2009, p.274). Partly due to this pressure and a low security standard in third-world countries (Fletcher 2014, p.131), numerous fires and collapses happened in garment factories in producing countries (see Burckhardt 2014, p.24, p.62). The biggest disaster in the fashion industry occurred quite recently, when a nine floor garment building collapsed at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 2013, killing more than 1.300 and injuring 1.800 people (ibid., p.16 et seq.).

The incident has been omnipresent in the media, marking a shift towards a more sustain- able consumption (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.129 et seq.). In this context, numerous interna- tional bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) started to exert pressure on the fashion industry (Fletcher 2014, p.132 Concurrently, the general lifestyle has begun to change in Western countries towards fostering more sustainable developments (Piegsa 2010, p.9). The general knowledge in social and environmental issues steadily increases; however such awareness does not necessarily turn into action in the fashion sector be- cause fashion is consumed by emotional rather than rational needs (Strähle 2016, p.2). The fact that some companies had to stop producing sustainable collections due to little demand (The Guardian 2015) but other fashion companies successfully offer sustainable collections, shows, that there is a change towards sustainability in fashion, but slow and incremental (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131). As young consumers belonging to the generation Y - also called Millennials - are a young, growing consumer market (Eco Consumer 2016), the future of fashion and the implementation of a sustainable development depend on their buying preferences and behaviour (see Hill/ Lee 2012, p.478; Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.199 et seq.).

1.1 Objective of the Present Study

The objective of this Master Thesis is to provide a Status Quo of consumer behaviour - specifically generation Y behaviour - when shopping fashion. This consumer group is commencing their professional life (Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.200) and is the generation that consumes the most from fast fashion (Yildiz et al. 2015, p.11). Research on preferences of this consumer group is still limited because it has not been in the focus of consumption yet (ibid., p.12).

There is a slow, incremental shift towards sustainability during the process of shopping.

At the same time, there is a need to change due to a fast growing population, scarce recourses and a high pollution (McNeill/ Moore 2015, p.220).

The present study focuses on the attitude and behaviour of the final fashion-customer and highlights possible changes in purchasing and after-purchase habits, but it does not directly address other possibilities to foster a sustainable development in fashion such as design, fibres and textiles, production, logistics and retail.

As the topic is still young, the literature is scarce (see Gardetti et al. 2013, p.381 et seq. Morgen/ Birtwistle 2009, p.190; Neill/ Moore 2014, p.214).

Thus, the aim of the present study is to provide information on an emergent consumer group becoming more important in a changing fashion-market.

The present study gives some useful insight for fashion designers and entrepreneurs who want to establish an own fashion company, fashion students, fast and slow fashion houses, consulting and marketing agencies.

1.2 Structure of the Present Study

This Master Thesis consists of two parts. The first part examines current literature on sustainable fashion and its consumption behaviour, assembled in order to gain insight into the topic and to reveal the need to mobilize consumer-thinking in the context of sustainability. As research on generation Y’s consumer patterns is limited (Yildiz et al. 2015, p.12), the present study analyses consumer behaviour in general.

The literature review detects the current trend of sustainability in fashion, its limitations and consumer’s behaviour, knowledge and attitude towards the concept of sustainability in fashion. Furthermore, conventional fashion shopping behaviour is examined and con- trasted to sustainable thinking through discussing both the drivers and barriers when shopping fashion. The thesis demonstrates the attitude-behaviour gap that arises from the topics described.

The findings form the hypotheses that are empirically examined in the second part. The main purpose of the present study is to respond on the research question “In spite of sus- tainability being a trend attracting young consumers, do conscious consumers still keep distance to act in a sustainable manner when shopping fashion? ” . To gain new knowledge on this novel topic, an online survey was conducted using Questfox, which examined con- sumer behaviour among Millennials. The empirical output has the function to confirm and complete literature findings.

2 Fundamentals of Sustainable Fashion

2.1 Concept of Sustainability

According to the most popular definition of sustainability (Strähle 2016, p.60) the term can be described as a "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987, S.41).

In today´s literature there are diverse definitions of sustainability depending on various situations and purposes (Sustainable Measures 2010; Nachhaltigkeit Info 2015; Kleine/ Hauff 2009, p.2). Although there is no universal definition (Strähle 2016, p.50), the concept has been deepened by the Earth Carter in 2000 mentioning the need of a sustainable society which respects nature, looks after global human rights, an economic justice, and peace (Earth Charter, 2000).

These values underlie the three pillars of sustainability that are described in the following chapter 2.1.1. They follow the basis of sustainable development in businesses and politics (Kleine/ Hauff 2009, p.10-24).

Three Dimensions of Sustainability

There are three major pillars holding the concept of sustainability. They include social eq- uity, economic health and environmental responsibility (Corsten/ Roth 2011, p.2 et seq.). The social pillar deals with ethical responsibility towards other human beings (ibid.,p.1) through supporting peace, social justice and reducing poverty (ibid., p.97). The terms ‘fair trade’ and ‘fair product’ involve fair production and trade taking social considerations into account (ibid.). The economic pillar fosters global distribution and allocation of resources in a fair way (Klein/ Hauff 2009, p.10); economic assets should be used efficiently to be profitable in the long-term (Business Dictionary 2016; Kleine/ Hauff 2009, p.10) without inhibiting the growth of natural resources (Nachhaltig Leben 2016). In order to protect ex- ploitation of resources (Corsten/ Roth 2011, p.135) and damage of the ecological system (Klein/ Hauff 2009, p.10), the third dimension driven by environmental responsibility fos- ters initiatives such as reuse and recycling (Strähle 2016, p.10).

Because of their unbalanced relationship the pillars can also be termed as the magic triangle of sustainability (Corsten/ Roth 2012, p.1).

2.2 Concept of Fashion

According to the Oxford Dictionary (2017) fashion is “a popular or latest style of clothing (...).” and “the production and marketing of new styles of clothing ( )”. Fashion is in constant change, that is “influenced by the combination of fashion trends and seasonal changes” (Gam 2011, p.178), produced by fashion designers (see Black 2012, p.9). Fashion reflects and connects two major needs of humans. First, the clothing is acquired for a physical, basic need such as covering from cold. Second, for psychological and social needs which are driven by symbolic, cultural and personal motivations. (see Fletcher 2007; see Gam 2011, p.178; see Black 2012, p.15).

Through the psychological role of fashion, the wearer can improve his self-esteem, show his status, freedom, creativity and express his identity, aesthetics and desires (Black 2012, p.8, p.15; Fletcher 2014, p.140-146). Other than clothing1, which meets physiologi- cal needs, fashion demonstrates belonging (Black 2012, p.217) and is associated with consumption, commercialization, materialism and marketing (Fletcher 2014, p.139).

Sustainability as a Paradox in Fashion

In the context of fashion, the dimensions and purposes of sustainability seem paradoxical due to the fact that fashion is based on consumer’s wants (Muthu 2016, p.2 et seq.) and wasteful, fast changing life cycles (Black 2012, p.8).

In fashion, obsolescence is being planned; which is the exact opposite of sustainability (Muthu 2016, p.2 et seq.; Matthews 2011, p.117). Sandy Black has named this oxymoron “The Fashion Paradox” (ibid., p.8).

2.3 Fast Fashion versus Slow Fashion

Most of the consumers do not purchase clothes for the usual four seasons; some retailers, such as Zara and H&M (Hennes& Mauritz) offer up to 12 collections a year (Fast Fashion 2015; Choi 2015, p.130; Fletcher 2014, p.140). The competitive advantage of these fast fashion houses is to bring the latest styles copied from designers in a high frequency into the stores (Kubacki 2014, p.565) by offering a low price to their customers (Avolio et al. 2016, p.718). The speed of production is made possible through an exact observation of consumer’s demands and a close collaboration with retailers (Matthews 2011, p.133).

The sound and the very meaning of the words ‘fast fashion’ recall that of ‘fast food’. The meaning signifies a cheap and easy production in a standardized way in order to target the mass market to be consumed in a fast (ibid.) and impulsive manner (Neill/ Moore 2015, p.213).

Using the term fast in fashion does not only refer to the speed of production but also to the “set of business practices focused on achieving continual economic growth” (Fletcher 2014, p.190). In a nutshell, fast fashion implements all non-sustainable business strate- gies characterized by a complex supply chain (Avolio et al. 2016, p.718 et seq.). Moreo- ver, the business model of fast fashion achieves profits by encouraging overconsumption (Kubacki 2014, p.565).

In the early 2000s slow fashion has emerged as an antithesis of fast fashion (Fernie/ Grant 2015, p.13; Kubacki 2014, p.565; Choi 2015, p.130). However, Fletcher (2007) states that slow fashion should not be understood as the exact opposite of fast fashion, but rather as “a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems”. Every stage in product life cycle2 is being improved (Green Strategy 2016) through the involvement of values (see Köhrer/ Schaffrin 2016, p.7).

Likewise, ‘slow fashion’ is comparable to ‘slow food’ (Fletcher 2014, p.204), where sus- tainable processes in designing, producing and consuming through deliberate slowing down the fashion cycle are being included (Kubacki 2014, p.565; Chan/ Wong 2012, p.195) especially through a shift from time to quality (Fletcher 2007; Köhrer/ Schaffrin 2016, p.7).

Slow fashion is set to design timeless fashion, not being mass-produced and generally having two collections per year (see Choi 2015, p.130). This type of fashion is “designed and manufactured to maximize benefits to people and society while minimizing adverse environmental impacts“(Chan/ Wong 2012, p.195).

The terms ‘organic’, ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’, ‘ethical’, ‘conscious’ and ‘slow’ fashion are often used in literature as synonyms3 (see Gordon/ Hill, 2015, p.xv; Köhrer/ Schaffrin 2016, p.7; Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.16). There is no industry standard to use these terms (Kubacki et al. 2012, p.16).

Specialized literature stipulates that a retailer or an item of fashion should be called sus- tainable only when every stage along the life cycle is sustainable (Strähle 2016, p.10). Nevertheless, the sustainability in fashion is not given as a rule but as a development of constantly lowering the carbon footprint4 in production (Black 2012, p.48). A closed loop5 is still rare in the industry (Strähle 2016, p.176). Rohlfing and Ahlert (2010, p.7 et seq.) point out that in literature sustainable fashion is mostly understood in a broader sense, highlighting the implementation of one or multiple single processes in the value chain, e.g. organic cotton that is being manufactured with conventional methods. To add, more fash- ion retailers that produce in a broader sense, being renowned selling fashionable and cheap6 fashion, (see Choi 2015, p.130) can be found on the market, than totally sustaina- ble fashion companies (Rohlfing/ Ahlert 2010, p.7 et seq.) Thus, for gaining a comprehen- sive overview on sustainable fashion this study also includes companies that produce in a broader sense, such as H&M with its Conscious Collection, and companies that produce in a totally sustainable and transparent manner, such as Patagonia.

3 Sustainability as a Trend in Fashion Industry

The trend of green products has reached the German society and consumers became well aware of fair trade products in general: fair trade sales increased sevenfold between 2005 and 2012 (Zukunftsinstitut 2016). Food and fashion belong to the key markets of the current lifestyle in Germany (Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.16) further described in chapter 4.2.1.

Global clothing production doubled from year 2000 to 2014 through an increase of annual purchases of the average consumer by 60% (McKinsey 2015). Clothing became more affordable through a slower rise in clothing prices compared to other goods (ibid.; ILO 2014, p.8). Consumers purchase fashion more often and wear it less frequently (Fernie/ Grant 2015, p.12). An average party top in the UK is worn 1,7 times (Black 2012, p.21; Fletcher 2014, p.90) and 80% of clothes are discarded before showing any traces of worn- ing out (Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.119).

Expensive production and fast disposal lead to a high pollution. As mentioned before, the fashion industry became the second largest polluter after the oil industry worldwide (Eco- watch, 2015), having an enormous carbon footprint and wasting most of available water (Quinn/ Bradley 2015, p.281; see Black 2012, p.9). To produce an average t-shirt made of conventional cotton, eleven bathtubs filled with water are needed (H&M Sustainability Re- port 2015, p.18).

52% of all clothing retail worldwide is traded in Europe (27%) and North America (25%) (ILO 2014, p.8).

The awareness in Western countries rose after the incidents at Rana Plaza in 2013. The tragedy has been omnipresent in the media; changes in consumer behaviour towards sustainable production (Fletcher 2014, p.132; see Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131) and ecofriendly design (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.132) have been observed. The slow fashion movement “has surged into a small-but-dedicated movement“ after these incidents (NPR 2015, Köhrer/ Schaffrin 2016, p.142). To add, the worldwide demand for organic cotton is constantly rising (Textile Exchange 2016, p.8).

It appears that especially the young consumers of the generation Y became highly aware of environmental and social factors through being the first generation raised with the internet (Hill/ Lee 2012, p.477).

Although the most money since 1970 - almost 75 billion Euros - has been spend on garments and shoes in Germany in year 2015 (Statista 2016a), one of the most known German sustainable fashion companies named ‘hessnatur’ reached its most successful turnover in this year (Planung & Analyse 2016). Almost one third of German consumers had purchased at least one sustainable fashion item in 2015 (Planung & Analyse 2016) and four times more clothes than in 2013 have been collected in H&M stores to be recycled (H&M sustainability report 2015, p.7).

This indicates, that the trend in consuming sustainable fashion is constantly rising (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131). Because of the megatrend following the current lifestyle of LOHAS (see chapter 4.2.1) that involves sustainable values in consumption and because of glob- alisation, a fair and sustainable development is considered becoming a natural conse- quence (Zukunftsinstitut 2016). In comparison to elder generations, generation Y con- sumers appear to be more environmentally and socially conscious (Eco Business 2016).

Furthermore, there is an increasing number of fairs and exhibitions in the fashion and textile sector matching the concept of sustainability (Rinaldi/ Testa 2015, p.14). Since 2011 the fashion trade fair ‘Greenshowroom’ and the fashion show ‘Ethical Fashion Show’, where fairly produced, sustainable clothing is exhibited and sustainable fashion talks take place, became an integral part of Berlin’s fashion week (Die Zeit 2016). The number of exhibitors is constantly rising (ibid.).

Although there is an increased demand on sustainable clothes (Planung & Analyse 2016), the fashion industry is changing very slowly towards a more sustainable development in regards to other creative industries (Black 2012, p.10). The very onset of the movement can still be described as a ‘farmers’ market approach’ (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131). This is because the “nature of fashion appears contrary to the spirit of sustainability” (Black 2012, p.92).

3.1 Corporate Social Responsibility in Fashion Industry

According to the European Commission, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as the “concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis” (Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.18). Furthermore, companies can position themselves through a CSR strategy (Rinaldi/ Testa 2015, p.21).

Internal motivations to turn company structures towards sustainability are a sustainable mission and vision, improvement of the image, development of new consumers, product differentiation (Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.48; D’Souza et al. 2015, p.35) and an extension of the company’s competitive advantage (Rinaldi/ Testa 2015, p.28). Although the German fashion industry has made progresses in implementing sustainable production, it still is under the ‘top 5 flop industries’ (Serviceplan 2016, p.18).

External drivers for companies to implement sustainability are the customer’s rising awareness of production, which has led to a higher emphasis on CSR activities along the life cycle of a product, purchasing decision and information of consumers (Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.24 et seq.) especially in Germany (Serviceplan 2016, p.30; Shen et al. 2013, p.136). Strähle (2016, p.11) argues that fashion companies need to deepen their objec- tives in CSR in order to satisfy more consumers (Strähle 2016, p.11) because sustainabil- ity implemented in the value chain (ibid.,p.8) and a company’s image are seen as a major driver for a company’s success (Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.194 et seq.), in particular when target- ing generation Y consumers (ibid., p.201). This consumer group highly values a transpar- ent communication (Hill/ Lee 2012, p.478) and puts big companies into question (Eco Business 2016). Brands are not as important as an authentic communication (Yildiz et al. 2015, p.12).

On the other hand, many fashion houses promote their company as having a more sustainable image as it actually is (Strähle 2016, p.66). As there is no organization that controls companies and it is difficult to assess intern processes for extern stakeholders, they can use own labels and processes they consider being sustainable -this phenomenon is called ‘green washing’ (Strähle 2016, p.19). Brands can easily polish their image though pretending being sustainable (Strähle 2016, p.66.).

The major aim of an enterprise is to make profit and as consumers are ”not really in- formed about what sustainability actually means” (Strähle 2016, p.66) there is no need to really make changes in the production (ibid.). In year 2012, 48% of German consumers never thought about sustainability when purchasing goods online, 38% stated they once thought about it but did not know if their consumption is making a difference on sustaina- bility (statista 2016d). “Consumers often cannot judge the legitimacy and credibility ( )” (Strähle 2016, p.66) when different information is provided (Hill/ Lee 2012, p.477) espe- cially after numerous scandals in recent years (Zukunftsinstitut 2016). Thus, transparency is essential to build trust (see Köhrer/ Schaffrin 2016, p.7; Zukunftsinstitut 2016). Sustainability in fast fashion houses can be described as a hygiene factor7 (Schenkel- Nofz/ Walther 2014, p.219)- consumers punish unsustainable and unfair producers (Hartmann 2009, p.281) but do not honour sustainable and fair-producing companies (Schenkel-Nofz/ Walther 2014, p.219).

Since Rana Plaza, media and NGOs (Nongovernmental Organizations) have started to exert pressure on companies (Fletcher 2014, p.132) to implement sustainability in production. For instance, Greenpeace (Greenpeace 2016b) raises awareness through its Detox Campaign, which has been signed by 76 international fashion companies in order to eliminate toxic chemicals in production until 2020.

3.2 Life Cycle Assessment of Fashion Products

A life-cycle assessment helps companies to evaluate where in a product’s life the envi- ronment is harmed to which extend (Gwilt/ Rissanen 2012, p.109; Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.17). Furthermore, it reveals the carbon footprint of every process in production and us- age (Muthu 2016, p.17 et seq.). It can also lead to form a strategy in CSR (Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.21).

According to a garment’s life cycle analysis of the fashion brand “Continental Clothing” drying and washing their shirts in the after-purchase use of consumers “almost equalled the carbon footprint of its entire production process.” (Black 2012, p.54; see ibid., p.93; see Strähle 2016, p.58 et seq.; see Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.20). Muthu (2016, p.17) supports these findings stating there is a high energy used when laundering. Consequently, improving laundering and after-purchase behaviour can lead to a higher impact on a sustainable development than changes in production (ibid., p.65). It is even inalienable to change towards a sustainable development (ibid. p.68).

Consumer’s after-purchase knowledge and attitude will be further discussed in detail in chapter 4.5.

3.3 Supply Chain in Fashion Industry

Traditional supply chain management is a coordination of business processes and an op- timization of information, material and financial flows of logistics outside a company’s pro- cesses (Bogatu 2008, p.18) in order to create value for stakeholders (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.129). Through globalization, supply chain management has become more complex (ibid.).

Especially in fast fashion the supply chain is not transparent (Fletcher 2014, p.60), facto- ries subcontract other factories to meet their targets (ILO 2014, p.4). Western brands can have up to 500 suppliers, which again subcontract other factories (Strähle 2016, p.63). The number can increase to 3.000 suppliers (Hartmann 2009, p.274). Besides social ex- ploitation, the environment and nature is being exploited (Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.16, Fletcher 2007). Furthermore, more textile waste is being produced and thrown away by consumers (Strähle 2016, p.63).

The lack of transparency in the supply chain is one of the driving reasons why the concept of economically- and environmentally-friendly garments is difficult to implement in the in- dustry (Black 2012, p.92). For big fashion companies implementing sustainable processes still is seen as “experimental, requiring time and investment before determining its full po- tential“ (Huffingtonpost 2016a). Companies loose flexibility on the market what is one of the key reasons why “sustainability in fashion has remained in roughly the same territory (of product and process improvement) for the past 20 years.” (Fletcher/ Grose 2012, p.76).

Nevertheless, a shift towards a sustainable fashion supply chain is being observed (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.129 et seq.).

As “sustainability in the textile and fashion industry can be controlled along the supply chain“ (Strähle 2016, p.8) long-term relationships with suppliers and a stable value chain are needed in order to foster a sustainable development (Greenpeace 2016a, Fletcher 2007, Kubaczki 2014, p.565).

Big fashion houses as H&M have started to apply elements of slow fashion in their supply chain. H&M is a big fast fashion retailer, operating globally, offering basic and fashionable collections for low prices (Black 2012, p.58). The company has been ranked in the top 25 of most valuable brands globally (ibid.). This achievement shows that the fashion house is successfully meeting the needs of consumers (Strähle 2016, p.66). Although the Swedish company is still far away of being totally sustainable (see Strähle 2016, p.10), the fashion giant makes incremental steps through a yearly sustainability report showing a list of their suppliers (H&M Sustainability Report 2016), major progresses in the Greenpeace Detox Campaign (Greenpeace 2016b), using organic materials, cooperating with sustainable designers and collecting used garments for recycling (Black 2012, p.58). The company has been “nominated for Ethical Corporation’s top ten most innovative internal sustainabil- ity initiatives” (Black 2012, p.58).

Although small changes in supply chain and innovations in order to foster a sustainable fashion industry are already implemented, the development is restricted to business mod- els and production systems of sellers (Fletcher/ Grose 2012, p.74) and the consumption behaviour of buyers (Chan/ Wong 2012, p.195).

H&M’s sustainability specialist Pierre Börjesson further explains that big fashion companies that target a broad market need to produce what consumers want to avoid full stocks and waste (Huffingtonpost 2016a; see Strähle 2016, p.65 et seq.; see Hartmann 2009, p.118). Therefore consumers need to get aware of their buying behaviour (ibid.) in order to make changes towards sustainability in the long run (Strähle 2016, p.68).

4 Consumer Behaviour in Fashion

4.1 Buying Behaviour Process

Buying decisions in fashion are mainly directed by the garment itself (Chan/ Wong 2012, p.195) and by social and psychological drivers of the consumer (ibid.; Gam 2011, p.180). In general, decisions are being made both, consciously and non-consciously (Crommentuijn-Marsh et al 2010, p.8).

To illustrate the complex process of the determinants that influence consumers when purchasing fashion, the framework of the Stimulus-Organism-Response (SOR) Model will be applied. Lee and Johnson (2010, p.36) examined the impulsiveness of buying fashion and concluded that their findings “provided support for the proposed research framework based in the stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) paradigm.”

The neo-behaviouristic S-O-R Model has been developed, to “explain the effects of the physical environment on human behaviours” (Lee/ Johnson 2010, p.32). Researchers have already used findings of this model to predict consumer’s shopping behaviour (ibid.). The model demonstrates observable processes during the purchase process and unob- servable processes inside the organism of the consumer (Foscht et al. 2015, p.28 et seq.).

Observable processes are a stimulus, e.g. an attractive product and a result, e.g. a pur- chase action (Foscht et al. 2015, p.29). As the consumer behaviour and purchase deci- sions are examined, a focus on the organism of the model is being made in this study.

The processes inside the organism are divided into three sub-processes (Foscht et al. 2015, p.33) In the first sub-construct, the activating processes, consumer’s motivation and emotion that form the consumer’s attitude are being examined (Griese/ Bröring 2011, p.71 et seq.).

The second sub-construct consists of cognitive processes that process the information through perception, learning and memory (ibid.).

Activating and cognitive processes are responsible for how the consumer is reacting to the stimulus received (ibid.).

The third construct consists of predisposing processes, where factors as involvement8, groups and culture are being examined (ibid). These can also be described as the “current level of acceptance of products” and the awareness of the consumer (Gam 2011, p.180), which exists before any stimulus (Griese/ Bröring 2011, p.71).

4.1.1 Activating Sub-Process

In the activating sub-process, activation, emotion and motivation are closely linked. The individual receives a stimulus, which can be 1) a cognitive stimulus that e.g. evokes an intellectual conflict 2) an emotional stimulus that is partially innate or 3) a physical stimulus e.g. a very big poster. These stimulate the nervous system, which gives the organism en- ergy so that it can further intake and process the information into a motivation of purchas- ing or not. (see Homburg/ Krohmer 2012, p.29 et seq..; Foscht et al. 2015, p.37; Griese/ Bröring 2011, p.78f.)

Emotions are a subjective interpretation of the organism to a received stimulus (Foscht et al. 2015, p.45) and can evoke impulsive9 and unplanned buying (Aruna/ Santhi 2015, p.21). They have a big influence on processing information, its intake, assessment, for- mation of opinion and consequently on consumers purchase behaviour (Homburg/ Krohmer 2012, p.39). Thus, emotions are closely linked to motivation (Foscht et al. 2015, p.37), which further describes the reason, why a certain product is purchased or not (Griese/ Bröring 2011, p.80).

Fashion is purchased more often impulsively than other product categories (Aruna/ Santhi 2015, p.24); more than a half of purchases in shopping are made in an impulsive manner (Lee/ Johnson 2010, p.31). Particularly young consumers shop impulsively (Morgan/ Birt- wistle 209, p.190).

Unplanned purchase behaviour is being increased through promotional programs that stimulate the individual (Kaushal 2011, p.72; Crommentuijn-Marsh et al. 2010, p.3), especially through a low price and communication of scarcity in fast fashion houses (Cook/ Yurchisin 2016, p.310). Moreover, consumers can get influenced inside the store, e.g. through a salesperson, who can turn their mood into a good one, what fosters impulsive buying and lowers cognitive processes (Lee/ Johnson 2010, p.36).

According to a study of Neuromarketing Labs, emotional reactions of a buyer are a major driver for sales success and decisions are made fast and unconscious (Onlinehändler News 2015). Consequently, buyers decide in milliseconds if a fashion product will be purchased or not (ibid.). When fashion is purchased impulsively, the cognitive control is considered being low (Aruna/ Santhi 2015, p.21).

Clothes can have an emotional importance: they can cheer people up when they are sad (ibid.). Many unhappy humans consume more in order to feel better (Huffingtonpost 2016a). To increase profits, the apparel industry promotes consumer’s low self-esteem, especially to young women (Trautmann-Attmann/ Johnson 2009, p.271) - consequently fashion fosters overconsumption (Kubacki 2014, p.565). When consumers are happy there is no need to over consume (Huffingtonpost 2016a) and sustainable actions take place (Corral-Verdugo et al. 2011, p.101).

On the other hand, according to a theory developed by Sproles (1979) consumers buy new fashion due to psychological and social needs as social belonging, a changing society or the recognition that there is new fashion (Gam 2011, p.180). Regarding the changing values towards a healthier lifestyle in our current society, this could lead to a more conscious behaviour (Gam 2011, p.187).

4.1.2 Cognitive Sub-Process

In the cognitive sub-process, after activation, involvement or emotion, information is being perceived either through already consisting memory or a new intake (Meffert et al. 2012, p.116 et seq.) as previously described. Every individual is reacting differently to stimuli (ibid.). The output is a learning procedure, where individuals assess and connect information with already existing information (Griese/ Bröring 2011, p.82).

Some brands and products are being emotionally charged to teach consumers positive attitude (Baszczyk, p.180). This is called classic conditioning (ibid.). The learned infor- mation is being saved in memory and influences consumer behaviour in the long-term (ibid.).

According to Crommentuijn-Marsh et al. (2010, p.7) consumers are loyal towards their favourite fashion brands when they made good shopping experiences. In addition, “75% of purchase decisions are made in store” usually at already known brands (Kaushal 2011, p.72). Consumers do not want to go through extensive information research and detailed cognitive processing when shopping fashion (Strähle 2016,p.62). They are accustomed to a fast accessible fashion consumption (ibid.).

An attitude towards a specific product or brand is a continuous positive or negative reac- tion to a given stimulus (Meffert et al. 2012, p.124), which is formed in an emotional and subjective manner (Foscht et al. p.69) through past experiences, current concerns, knowledge and social pressure (Gam 2010, p.182). Therefore understanding the Western awareness, social pressure and environmental concerns and knowledge is important to figure out consumer’s general attitude towards sustainable fashion (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.494). In chapter 4.6 the current knowledge of consumers about sustainable fashion and environmental concerns will be further discussed.

4.1.3 Predisposing Sub-Process

The predisposing sub-process is a driver for human behaviour. It consists of social and cultural determinants, personality, attitude and involvement. It is the driver for the other two processes (Foscht et al. 2015, p.134).

4.1.3.1 Involvement

Involvement is the consumer’s intrinsic motivation that is responsible for the search of al- ternatives, processing information and storing information (Griese/ Bröring 2011, p.76).

A low involvement in fashion fosters impulsive buying (Crommentuijn-Marsh et al 2010, p.589). Furthermore, consumers do not want to alter their involvement when purchasing fashion. They are habituated to fast accessible fashion (ibid.,p.62).

Due to higher involvement when purchasing sustainable fashion, e.g. because of search for green fashion items, consumers may find it hard to make a purchase decision driven by green attributes (D’Souza et al. 2015, p.37).

On the other hand, women (Hourigan 2012, p.18) and fashion-conscious consumers have a higher involvement when shopping (Gam 2011, p.180). This means that fashion lead- ers10 look for more information, spend more money and are more likely to adopt new products (Gam 2011, p.180). Consequently, they are more conscious about eco-apparel (ibid. 2011, p.179; ibid. p.189). As 60% of German consumers assess themselves as be- ing fashion conscious (Planung&Analyse 2016) and particularly young consumers have a higher involvement when shopping (Yildiz et al. 2015, p.12), it could be concluded that the involvement in shopping and therefore in conscious purchase decisions rises.

4.1.3.2 Social Determinants

Social determinants consist of groups that form the individual’s social environment. These can be divided into primary groups that have a personal relationship with the individual as family, friends and neighbours and secondary groups as associations, where the individu- al has not necessarily a personal relationship with (Foscht et al. 2015, p.145). Through fashion, group belonging can be communicated (Fletcher 2007; Black 2012, p.8). Especially family and friends influence fashion purchase decisions (Kaushal 2011, p.79). If an individual belongs to a group, where environmental concerns are not being important, he might not choose sustainable fashion (Strähle 2016, p.62). In this context, generation Y consumers behave differently- they are willing to make a difference in their social environment through setting new impulses (Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.199 et seq.) driven by information (Hill/ Lee 2012, p.478).

Consequently, when social pressure, e.g. through media is being executed on an individual to behave in a more responsible and economical-friendly manner, the individual has a higher tendency to buy sustainable fashion (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.494).

Fashion has a symbolic character to the person who wears it (Strähle 2016; p.68), in particular in the Western world, where fashion shopping is driven by consumer’s wants and not necessarily needs (Crommentuijn-Marsh et al 2010, p.7). Clothes are a part of a person’s self-image giving the wearer an identity (ibid.) and belonging to a specific crowd (Fletcher 2007) or differentiating from a specific group (Black 2012, p.8).

4.1.3.3 Cultural Determinants

Culture is formed by shared values, language, rituals, behaviour and attitudes of a society (Foscht et al 2015, p.149 et seq.). Inside a culture, classes may be formed through occupation or salary. (ibid.158).

Humans express their belonging through fashion and products they consume (Fletcher/ Grose 2012, p.79). Clothes act as a social measurement for status (Black 2012, p.8). Due to the celebrity culture, where celebrities wear different robes on different events, the mass market has the desire for novelty (Black 2012, p.23). This urge to steadily consume new robes is an “inherent cultural construct” (Black 2012, p.92). Therefore, and because of media (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.194), consumers steadily search for new identities and so fast fashion delinked the basic role of clothes protecting the wearer (Fletcher 2014, p.140).

On the contrary, a new movement is initiated by celebrities that fosters sharing of clothes (Wachs/ Bendt 2013, p.77).

Women are more into fashion shopping than men (D´Souza et al. 2014, p.35). Especially young girls purchase clothes more often (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.190) and represent the major target group to fast fashion (ibid., p.195). On average, German females have 118 pieces of clothing, while males have 73 (Strähle 2016, p.17). For many consumers, fashion has become a leisure activity, where items are purchased weekly in high amounts (ibid., p.194). To add, particularly young females living in Western countries are expected to focus on their appearance and shop to get attention from others (Trautmann-Attmann/ Johnson 2009, p.271).

Fashion satisfies unhappy consumers (Crommentuijn-Marsh et al 2010, p.7) and boosts a low self-esteem caused by media (Trautmann-Attmann/ Johnson 2009, p.269); in Germa- ny twice as many females are affected by depression than males (Deutsche Depression- shilfe n.y.). Although in literature women are more often associated with shopping, a trend independent from gender to constantly refresh the wardrobe is observed (Strähle 2016, p.57).

4.2 Development of Sustainable Consumer Behaviour

Values are in a constant change and shape the lifestyle, consumer behaviour and prefer- ences of a society (Wenzel et al. 2007, p.20). Since the 1970/ 80s three different phases of green fashion can be observed (Diekamp/ Koch 2010, p.10). First, eco fashion was a niche, communicating “anti-fashion” and “baggy style” in order to demonstrate the oppo- site of the mass-market (ibid.,p.13). There was no fashion design in order to demonstrate and emphasize the natural production (ibid.). The movement was associated with “hippie” culture (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131).

In the 1990s, the second phase, a negative image of eco-fashion arose (Diekamp/ Koch 2010, p.13). Big retailers as H&M were advertising green fashion as being more con- scious than it was (ibid.). Beyond this, demand was low due to weak fashion design and a lack of market acceptance (ibid.). The third and current phase is described in the following chapter.

4.2.1 Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability

The current lifestyle since the end of the 1990’s in Germany is called „Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability“, which consists of economic protection and an own healthy life as well as a healthy environment (Li 2013, p.99; Rinaldi/ Testa 2015, p.13) originated in the Unit- ed States (Rohlfing/ Ahlert 2010, p.15). LOHAS take care of a healthy nutrition, that is being locally cultivated (Wenzel 2007, p.57) and physical exercise, are open towards in- novation and are optimistic for future (Li 2013, p.99). The value of environmental protec- tion is “embedded in their life” (Li 2013, p.99) as well as in their purchase behaviour (Rinaldi/ Testa 2015, p.13).

In Germany almost a third of consumers do follow the LOHAS lifestyle (ibid.), which increased its followers by a third between 2007 and 2015 (Statista 2016c). The trend reached the German society and consumers are aware of fair trade products in general: fair trade sales increased sevenfold between 2005 and 2012 (Zukunftsinstitut 2016). Although food and fashion belong to the key markets of LOHAS (Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.16), the fashion market still lags behind (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.493).

With the emerge of the LOHAS lifestyle, the criteria in purchasing fashion have turned towards fair working conditions and a transparent production (Wenzel 2007, p.63). More than 70% of consumers asked in Germany state that sustainability is important to them (Planung&Analyse 2016). Nevertheless, consumers who follow this lifestyle still want to be fashionable and value trendy fashion (Diekamp/ Koch 2010, p.12) as well as technology, which is the major difference between them and eco-consumers of the first phase (Rinaldi/ Testa 2015, p.14). In the current phase, consumers can choose from stylish fashion whether from luxury houses or young designers resembling conventional fashion. The image has turned positive through the acceptance of eco fashion throughout celebrities (Diekamp/ Koch 2010, p.16 et seq.). Consequently, a consumer trend on purchasing sustainable clothes is being observed (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131) and future industries as well as future fashion industry go green (Zukunftsinstitut 2016).

4.2.2 Conscious Consumer Behaviour

Consumers following the LOHAS lifestyle are a big target group of sustainable consumption through making almost 30% of conscious consumer choices in Germany; 70% are made by other consumers (Statista 2016c). Germany has the biggest bio-market in Europe, where 30% of revenue shares have been turned in bio-products in 2013 and the industry is further booming (bmel 2014).

The most developed industry holding a high amount of conscious consumers is the food segment (Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.15). Here, the biggest consumer group is female (ibid.) and is being associated with young and well-educated consumers (D’Souza et al. 2015, p.35). Furthermore, some studies argue that women are more involved in environmental- friendly lifestyles, decision making and therefore act more environmental-friendly in recy- cling or buying (Connell/ Yvonne 2008, p.61). In comparison to elder generations, genera- tion Y consumers are more environmentally and socially conscious (Eco Business 2016). On the other hand, concerning age different research shows different results: some state that younger, some state that elder generations are more into conscious consumption (Connell/ Yvonne 2008, p.62). This ambiguity has also been found regarding the relation- ship between sustainable behaviour and education. Some studies carry out a positive re- lationship, others where the relationship is non-significant; a negative relationship has not been found yet (ibid.).

In general, it can be said that consumers, that aim to avoid making negative impacts on the environment, are more likely to recycle and behave in an eco-friendly manner (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.494).

Drivers for purchasing green food are health, quality and environment (ibid.,p.16). Fur- thermore, consumers have a direct benefit of their own (Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.15; Gam 2011, p.178). Although the benefit purchasing sustainable fashion is external, through supporting fair wages of farmers for instance, consumers making conscious decisions when purchasing food are being the same target group for sustainable fashion, because they are more likely to make conscious decisions when purchasing fashion (Ahlert/ Rohlf- ing 2010, p.15; Gam 2011, p.178). Particularly consumers who have already purchased sustainable fashion are more likely to purchase sustainable fashion again (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.497).

These consumers are willing to pay a higher price for sustainable goods (Gam 2011, p.178).

Cowan further argues that environmentally conscious consumers do actively look for sustainable fashion despite inconvenience and higher prices (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.493). Although conscious purchases may result from narcissistic reasons to self-present in an ecologically-friendly way (ibid., p.494), making conscious buying decisions in fashion is considered being “an eco-friendly behaviour” (Gam 2011, p.190).

Research on conscious consumer behaviour in fashion needs more research than other products (Gam 2011, p.179; D’Souza et al. 2015, p.35) and contradictious findings are made (Chan/ Wong 2012, p.206). Therefore purchase behaviour of conscious consumers is being further examined in this thesis.

4.3 Drivers of Buying Decision in Sustainable Fashion

Several studies have been conducted to find out the major drivers when purchasing fashion. In the following chapter the most important drivers when buying conventional and sustainable fashion will be described.

According to Beckmann aspects as fitting, style and price (Strähle 2016, p.57) are more important than a sustainable production (Strähle 2016, p.63) when purchasing eco- friendly clothing (Chan/ Wong 2012, p.196). Rohlfing and Ahlert (2010, p.20) found out that the most important criteria when buying a fashion item are price, quality, skin compat- ibility, design, choice, material, environmental compatibility and brand. Moreover, new- ness as well as uniqueness and an easy access are important drivers (Choi 2014, p.104; Huffingtonpost 2016a) in particular for young consumers of generation Y (Morgan/ Birtwis- tle 2009, p.190).

Environmental-conscious consumers behave in a similar manner. “The motivations of purchasing eco-fashion are mainly related to the attributes of product and retail store that are beneficial for them [consumers] to express fashion trends“ (Chan/ Wong 2012, p.195) Chan/ Wong (ibid., p.196) further explain: “Eco- fashion product design presents value of a piece of fashion as fashion consumers prefer fashion clothing that appears aesthetically pleasant“. Even for consumers following the LOHAS lifestyle fashion and design are important attributes (Diekamp/ Koch 2010,p.12).

Buyers state that they are willing to pay a higher price if the product has a high quality (Fernie/ Perry 2013, p.275). Hartmann (2009, p.280) mentions a study of the PR agency Accenture that showed that 85% of German consumers are willing to pay a higher price for garments that have been economical-friendly and fair produced. Results of Chan/ Wong’s study in 2012 (p.206) support this point of view.

To conclude, Kozlowski et al. (2012, p.24) summarizes that “research shows that the characteristics of clothing such as colour and style that create appeal are the strongest predictor for purchasing apparel—rather than the social or environmental considerations”

4.4 Barriers of Buying Decision in Sustainable Fashion

According to Schenkel-Nofz/ Walther (2014, p.219) price sensitivity is one of the major barriers why consumers do not act in a sustainable manner. The price has to be low, es- pecially for Millennials (Strähle 2016, p.57, p.142; Kaushal 2011, p.79). Consumers want a sustainable product to cost the same as a non-sustainable; sustainability is seen as an “added value” with at least the same quality standard having an easy access (Huffing- tonpost 2016a; see Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2009, p.20). In Germany in 2011, 57% of participants stated that they are unwilling to pay more for a sustainable fashion item than for a non- sustainable (statista 2016e). D’Souza (et al. 2015, p.40) found that most of male partici- pants were conscious about sustainable production in fashion but admitted they would also spend less money if the product were the same but less environmental-friendly.

According to a survey conducted in 2013 (statista 2016f), 55% of participants in Austria rejected purchasing sustainable fashion due to uncertainty if the fashion item was sustainable, 51% rejected due to lack of credibility and almost half of participants stated that the price has been to high. Other reasons for not purchasing sustainable fashion have been the lack of transparency of labelling (47%), the low access (46%), low choice (43%) and that sustainable fashion is considered not being fashionable (14%) (ibid.). Even ecofriendly consumers hold a similar view (see Gam 2011, p.179).

4.5 After-Purchase Behaviour in Fashion

Literature regarding after-purchase usage is scarce and needs further research (Gardetti et al. 2013, p.381 et seq. Morgen/ Birtwistle 2009, p.190; Neill/ Moore 2014, p.214). After- purchase behaviour involves laundering (Strähle 2016, p.58), reusing11, reducing and re- cycling (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.190; Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.122). Women do act more conscious in their after-purchase behaviour than men (D’Souza et al. 2015, p.40).

As previously described in chapter 3.2, the after-purchase behaviour in fashion has more negative impacts on the environment than in the entire manufacturing process (Gardetti et al. 2013, p.385; Muthu 2016, p.72).

Due to easy access, low price and low empathy towards clothes through depersonaliza- tion, fast fashion garments are being “discarded long before they are worn out” (Fletcher/ Grose 2012, p.85; Fletcher 2014, p.140; Choo et al. 2014, p.175). In consequence, more pollution and waste is produced (Strähle 2016, p.28; Morgen/ Birtwistle 2009, p.191).

67% of consumers throw cheap clothes away because there is new fashion or they no longer liked the garment (Strähle 2016, p.60). This means that the garment does not communicate the wearer`s values anymore (Black 2012, p.7). To add, fashion items of fast fashion houses are designed and produced to be worn not more than 10 times what fosters throwaway culture (Morgen/ Birtwistle 2009, p.191). Consumers still have little awareness about the need of recycling (Strähle 2016, p.190), especially young consumers belonging to generation Y (Morgen/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196).

Replacing an inexpensive broken garment is more common than fixing it (Strähle 2016, p.190). Reasons therefore are the lack of ability or time (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196). Professional repairing is considered as being too expensive and rare (Black 2012, p.217) and consumers do not want to wear garments that have visible repairs because it is associated with poverty (Gardetti et al. 2013, p.385). The barriers of fixing or discarding garments sink when the item is expensive (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.195) or has an emotional value (Gardetti et al. 2013, p.385).

On the other hand, consumers are willing to donate clothes and to rethink consumption behaviour (Moore/ Birtwistle 2009, p.190) because they understand the need (ibid., p.196) of change. Most of young consumers give used clothes to family and friends, donate them to charity shops or bring them to recycle bins (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.195). If clothing is purchased in second-hand stores or swapped, this may have other drivers than only environmental reasons (Neill/ Moore 2015,p.220). Consumers may look for something unique (Strähle 2016, p.123), cool or unusual (Neill/ Moore 2015,p.220). More- over, they may want to avoid conventional stores (Strähle 2016, p.126) or save money (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196).

Barriers to buy second-hand fashion are that consumers feel reluctant to wear clothes of people they do not know, they associate them with death what entails insufficient hygiene (Strähle 2016, p.127). Moreover, buying second-hand can communicate poverty (ibid.).

Clothes are more often washed than necessary because of consumer’s habits and cleanliness (Gardetti et al. 2013, p.379). Most of the consumers wash their clothes after every usage and do not change their behaviour even if they are aware of the impacts on the environment (Strähle 2016, p.59) because of social standards and cleaning rituals (Kruschwitz et al. 2014, p.275). In Germany, many consumers are unsure about different washing programs (ibid., p.276). Therefore an education is needed (ibid.). Especially media should provide information about sustainable possibilities to dispose and consume fashion to end consumers (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196). Furthermore, women are more involved in water-conservation than men (D’Souza et al. 2015, p.35) what might indicate a better knowledge of laundering after-purchase.

4.6 Sustainable Fashion Knowledge

A higher environmental knowledge of consumption and the effects on the environment define consumption habits and increases shopping of environmental friendly goods and recycling (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.494).

In Germany, the institute for market research Dr. Gieger & Cie found out that 75% of con- sumers think that sustainability is important in fashion and therefore demand more sus- tainable fashion (Planung&Analyse 2016). Although the incidents that have happened in Rana Plaza rose awareness they still do not lead taking sustainability as an important buying criteria into account (Shen et al. 2013, p.145). The general knowledge is still too low (ibid.p.144). When regarding generation Y consumers in particular, the willingness to act and general interest in the environment is high but the knowledge of sustainability is low (Hill/ Lee 2012, p.479).

Many consumers doubt the positive effects on the environment (Gam 2011, p.190) and do not know labels and organizations they can gather information from (D’Souza et al. 2015, p.36). According to a German survey in 2013, 24% of participants did not know what the term sustainability means, most of the sustainable brands are still unknown and consum- ers mostly buy at H&M, Aldi, Lidl and C&A (Planung & Analyse 2016). As sustainable garments are associated being more expensive, most of the consumers think that mainly luxury retailers produce in a sustainable manner (Fernie/ Grant 2015, p.12) and that sustainable fashion is having a better quality than conventional clothes (D’Souza et al. 2015, p.36; Fletcher 2007). On the contrary, Chan and Wong (2012, p.196) state that consumers think that sustainable fashion has a poor quality and uncom- fortable materials. Cowan and Kinley (2014, p.493) support these findings. Moreover, Strähle (2016, p.61) points out that there is a lack in material knowledge.

The general lack of awareness and information is a result of insufficient media coverage (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196). Although many fashion houses educate consumers (McNeill/ Moore 2015, p.220.), particularly young consumers wish further information (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196).

On the contrary, literature suggests that conventional consumers still are not interested in environmental concerns (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.493) and that they are not familiar with fashion production and how used garments can be discarded (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196.). Regarding age, gender and education no differences can be observed (Shen et al. 2013, p.144).

Consequently, lower fashion knowledge can lead to a barrier to accept sustainable fashion products (McNeill/ Moore 2015, p.220).

The described findings are a major reason for the attitude-behaviour gap described and examined in the ensuing chapter.

4.7 Attitude-Behaviour Gap in Sustainable Fashion

According to BTE (Bundesverband des deutschen Textileinzelhandels) an attitudebehaviour gap means that consumers are aware that there is a need for change but they do not act to change (Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.20). Even if consumers are convinced about buying sustainable goods, in many cases, convictions do not translate into action (Neill/Moore 2015,p.213; More/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196) Other than in food industry, in fashion, this consumer behaviour is being observed more often (Chan/ Wong 2012, p.195).

Reasons are explained by the complexity of shopping because the consumer has to think about many different things at the same time (Strähle 2016, p.62). Choices are made with conscious and subconscious factors on a more emotional (Crommentuijn-Marsh et al. 2010, p.2) and impulsive basis rather than when shopping other goods (Aruna/ Santi 2015, p.21). Furthermore, it could result from the fact that the benefit of choosing an envi- ronmental-friendly item does not directly affect the consumer himself when shopping fash- ion, unlike purchasing food (Chan/ Wong 2012, p.195). The closer a product is to con- sumer’s health or body, the more sensitive consumers react (Zukunftsinstitut 2016).

Some consumers, including conscious consumers (Strähle 2016, p.63), do not know if a change in their own behaviour makes a difference on the environment (D’Souza et al. 2015, p.37; Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.494) and assume that it is not in their responsibility to change (Crommentuijn-Marsh et al 2010, p.7).

Furthermore, consumers often overestimate their behaviour and attitude towards a more desirable and give social-desirable answers when asked in a survey but do not translate their stated behaviour into action (Schenkel-Nofz/ Walther 2014, p.219 et seq.). Some even are not aware that they behave differently than they have answered (ibid.).

Other reasons may be the drivers and barriers already explained in the chapters 4.3 and 4.4. Furthermore, social surrounding may influence how the consumer behaves; if the fellows do not value sustainable development, the consumer is likely to not make conscious buying decisions (Strähle 2016, p.63).

The paradox in fashion is also present on the consumer side. “The nature of fashion appears contrary to sustainability.” (Black 2012, p.92).

5 Forecast of Future Development regarding Sustainability in Fashion

As it is predicted that in year 2025 twice as many people will live on earth compared to 1979 (Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.113). Thus, there is a need to change due to scarce natural re- sources and a growing population (McNeill/ Moore 2015, p.220). Millennials are currently solvent young professionals and will have a rising impact on economy in the next years (see Hill/ Lee 2012, p.478; Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.199 et seq.). If the fashion industry keeps producing in the manner they produce nowadays and skip technological advances and implementing values, the consequences would be serious: garment prices would rise due to scarce resources, environmental disasters and riots would take place (Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.206).

3-D printing12, innovative materials13, smart textiles14 and individualisation are major com- ponents of the future fashion industry (ibid.). Although generation Y consumers are al- ready open towards innovative technologies and diverse business models (Wachst/ Bendt 2013, p.77), consumers in general need to learn how to share clothes in new business models as swapping, through joint sharing platforms (ibid., p.102) or flea markets (Redaktion Zukunft 2015). There is a need to make buying decisions in a quantitative and not qualitative manner (ibid.). Companies should foster conscious consumer thinking through educational marketing (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.497), overcoming barriers (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.497; Diekamp/ Koch 2010, p.17; Köhrer/ Schaffrin 2016, p.26) and com- municating the impacts of the attitude-behaviour gap (Schenkel-Nofz/ Walther 2014, p.231).

Although some consumers want to change their consumption behaviour because they got tired of steady buying (Morgan/ Birtwistle 2009, p.119) and their behaviour follows a sustainable development (Zukunftsinstitut 2016), a sudden change in consumer habits is considered being unlikely (Schenkel-Nofz/ Walther 2014, p.231).

Fast fashion will still be consumed and new business models in reuse and sharing are considered being a supplement (Redaktion Zukunft 2015). Experts across private indus- try, academia, media and NGOs have answered two major questions concerning the fu- ture of sustainable fashion (Black 2012, p.63-65). The first question “Can fashion ever be sustainable - or is it a contradiction in terms?” (ibid., p.63) has been discussed. Every consumption has an impact on the environment and therefore fashion can never be totally sustainable (ibid.,p.64). Moreover, as there is no end point of sustainability, the develop- ment will be a process that will evolve forever and fashion will move incrementally towards sustainability (ibid., p.65).

The other question, if the experts are being “optimistic for positive change in the industry towards sustainable fashion” has been answered positively. The experts are optimistic because in recent years, changes in consumer awareness and industry have been present. They have stated that fashion is in a state of flux and people need to further progress the changing attitude in their minds (ibid., p.63-65).

To sum up, fashion companies need to deliver products the consumer requires (Avolio et al. 2016, p.718). Both parties need to face responsibility next to their own goals of maxim- izing profit on the company’s side and customer’s satisfaction of emotional needs (Strähle 2016, p.67). Many changes towards a more sustainable development in fashion have al- ready been observed and should be expanded (Fletcher 2014, p.132; Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131). Media could act as a transmitter and could reach individuals through emphasizing the need for a common change (Cowan/ Kinley 2014, p.494; Morgen/ Birtwistle 2009, p.196) and transparency should be implemented in form of common standards (Zukun- ftsinstitut 2016). Politics and NGOs should encourage changes from production side (Fletcher/ Grose 2012, p.50 et seq.; ILO 2014, p.26 et seq.; Fletcher 2013, p.133).

Quantitative Research

The main target of empirical studies is to generate findings on social behaviour, specifical- ly about human beings, their attitudes and actions (Berger-Grabner 2016, p.110). As this study reaches to find out the current consumer behaviour in purchasing sustainable fash- ion, an empirical investigation is required. Furthermore, secondary data should be updat- ed with primary data because it may not contribute to the research and may be inaccurate (Albers et al. 2009, p.12). Data can be collected through observation and questioning (ibid.).

Empirical studies are conducted in five steps: definition of research problem, planning and preparation to gain data, conduct research, evaluation and practical implementations of results (Berger-Grabner 2016, p.111). In the empirical part of this thesis, hypotheses are being derived, a suitable design in form of interviews is described, implementation and results will be revealed and a discussion and conclusion terminates the study.

6 Hypothesis Formation on Consumer Behaviour in Fashion Indus- try

The first step in empirical studies is to define a research problem. In this study, the re- search problem is the approaching trend of contradictory models of sustainability and fashion and a lack of generation Y’s consumption preferences that might influence the development in the long run. There are diverse methods to gain primary data in order to investigate the problem. The following hypotheses are formulated through an investigation of literature (see Höge 2011, p.26). The leading research question, which guides further investigation and hypothesis formulation and has been derived from the research problem (ibid.), is: “In spite of sustainability being a trend attracting young consumers, do con- scious consumers still keep distance to act in a sustainable manner when shopping fash- ion? ”

6.1 Buying Attributes of Conscious Consumers

In literature, on the one hand, consumers act consciously and make planned buying deci- sions (see chapter 4.2.2). A trend in society towards a healthier lifestyle and therefore to- wards eco-friendly clothing is noticed (Zukunftsinstitut 2016; Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.16). Consumers living a sustainable life are more likely to make purchase decisions in fashion driven by green attributes (Ahlert/ Rohlfing 2010, p.15; Gam 2011, p.178). In Germany, the LOHAS lifestyle is a growing trend (Statista 2016c) and the profits in eco-fashion in- crease (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.131).

[...]


1 Further usage of the term ‘clothing’ will be used synonymously with ‘fashion’ and ‘garments’ in this study if not explicitly distinguished

2 The life cycle of apparel is complex and includes “resource production and extraction, fibre and yarn manufacturing, textile manufacturing, apparel assembly, packaging, transportation and distribution, consumer use, recycling and ultimate disposal” (Kozlowski et al. 2012, p.17).

3 These terms will be used synonymously in this study

4 Measurement of the impact of production and usage of a garment shown in tons of carbon dioxid (see Business Dictionary 2017a)

5 A system, where products are circulated with maximal usability and minimal impact on the environment (Kern/ Vogt 2016, p.123)

6 “Depending on the price-sensitivity of the consumer” (Choi/ Cheng 2015, p.130)

7 The „two-factor theory“ of Hertzberg reveals that some not present factors can lead to displeasure but if they are present they do not automatically lead to satisfaction (Business Dictionary 2017b).

8 Degree, to which an individual is engaged in information seeking to buy a product or solve an issue (Foscht et al. 2015, p.137).

9 Hedonic, not planned purchase that results from a sudden desire (Lee/ Johnson 2015, p.30)

10 Consumers that adopt fashion early (Gam 2011, p.180)

11 Reuse of discarded garments is a way to act in a sustainable manner while saving money (Strähle 2016, p.126).

12 An innovative technology, where a printer creates finished products on demand. This may revolutionize conventional production through elimination of manufacturing, transportation as well as storage (Black 2012, p.318).

13 For instance textiles made of seaweed (Wachs/ Bendt 2013, p.54) or pineapples (Ananas Anam 2016).

14 Fashion combined with technical gadgets (Vogue 2015).

Details

Pages
117
Year
2017
ISBN (eBook)
9783668464131
File size
5 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v367167
Institution / College
University of Applied Sciences Berlin
Grade
1,7
Tags
Sustainable Fashion Fashion Sustainability Green Fashion Eco Fashion Generation Y Millennials Consumer Behaviour Conscious Consumer Behaviour Apparel Industry Consumer Behavior Fashion Industry Slow Fashion

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Title: Sustainability as a Trend in Fashion Industry. An Empirical Study about Changing Consumer Behaviour