Consumers willing to pay more for sustainable apparel if business is transparent, study finds

Aug 17, 2011

The public often views the apparel industry as lacking transparency, sustainability and ethical practices. Scandals like child labor, sweat shops, and environmentally damaging manufacturing methods have alienated many consumers from the industry. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that consumers are willing to support apparel companies that do have employ sustainable and ethical practices; but those businesses have to prove it.

Gargi Bhaduri, a doctoral student, and Jung Ha-Brookshire, an assistant professor of textile and apparel management in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri, surveyed apparel consumers to find out if they were willing to pay a premium for products produced using sustainable and ethical methods. She found that consumers would be willing to pay 15 to 20 percent more for such products. However, she also found that consumers are likely to remain skeptical about apparel companies' claims of transparency and sustainability.

"While consumers seem willing to support businesses that do practice sustainability and ethics, general distrust in the transparency of all apparel businesses tend to keep consumers from on those businesses with sustainable practices," Bhaduri said. "To solve this issue, consumers seem to demand a universal standard authorizing agency to verify the claims of the businesses with transparent practices."

Bhaduri and Ha-Brookshire found that consumer of corporate transparency stems from the suspicion that sustainability claims are falsified or exaggerated by apparel companies as marketing ploys. Their study suggests that consumers feel the need for authentication of these businesses' claims from one standardized and objective authority, like the government, whom they can trust.

"The apparel industry is one of the most globalized modern industries," Bhaduri said. "Multiple countries are involved in manufacturing a single garment, making it almost impossible for consumers to know all the suppliers involved in apparel manufacturing. Because of this, if a business wants to establish a relationship of trust with consumers, it is up to the business to supply finished goods with visible and accessible information concerning the global manufacturing processes."

Bhaduri and Ha-Brookshire also found that consumers want information regarding product sustainability to be available conveniently. They suggests the use of such as hangtags, care labels, and point-of-purchase tags with clear information about their sustainable practices so can make an educated purchase decision.

Explore further: The significance of digits: just how reliable are reported numbers?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Item-Level Tagging with RFID Technology

May 17, 2007

Imagine shopping without money, sales clerks or even cash registers. All you have to do is walk in, find your items and walk out. In the not-so-distant future, special technology within retail stores may help ...

Recommended for you

Consumer sentiment brightens holiday spending

17 hours ago

Consumer confidence posted its fourth consecutive monthly gain in November, rising to its highest level since July 2007, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

Over-identifying restrictions in economic analysis

Nov 25, 2014

The analysis of empirical economics has long made use of a tool called the generalized method of moments (GMM). This method is used as a generic way of estimating parameters in an empirical model where the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.