Social or environmental labelling- Consumers’ knowledge, attitudes and preferences

University essay from Högskolan i Borås/Institutionen Textilhögskolan

Abstract: Social or environmental labelling- Consumers’ knowledge, attitudes and preferencesEngelska nyckelord: labelling, social or environmental labelling, eco-labelling, sustainability, transparency, fashion consumer, visual/verbal communication, consumer buying behaviour, green consumerism.Sammanfattning på engelska: In the recent years the Swedish fashion retailers have increased their range of various social or environmental labels on their garments which in return has created confusion amongst the fashion consumers. Currently, there are approximately fourteen different third-party labelling standards in Sweden and a diverse range of self-controlled labelling standards. The reason for this increase can partly be explained by the increasing pressure from various actors to act more sustainably and ethically, and companies having realized a competitive advantage by adopting sustainable strategies. This study provides a preliminary exploration into the types of social and environmental labels that are available on the Swedish market and consumers’ knowledge, attitudes and preferences regarding these labels. Based on two focus group discussions held at two different occasions, respondents indicated that environmental labelling of clothing could influence their purchase decision positively if product related attributes (design and quality) have the same standard as non-sustainable clothing. Although consumers’ knowledge about the social or environmental labels is relatively low, they have an increased interest to learn more about the various labels and the potential environmental impact the fashion industry may cause. However, the growing involvement of taking social or environmental issues into consideration does not always lead to consumers actually purchasing eco-friendlier clothes, and thus these two “identities” are not yet compatible with each other.Additionally, consumers respond differently to positive and negative labelling, where negative labelling seems to have a stronger effect on their feelings and may influence their purchase decision. When it comes to the design of the label, visual and verbal communications are additives and a label should also have a numerical rating system, which states how sustainable a garment is in comparison to other garments. Furthermore, the logo should be more coherent with the fashion industry in terms of colours and illustrations. Moreover, consumers think that there is a lack of information at the point of purchase regarding the social and environmental labels and this should be addressed with either QR-code or by providing a simple brochure.

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