Consumers willing to buy sustainable US cotton, researchers find

Feb 06, 2012

As the interest in environmentally responsible business practices grows globally, researchers are interested in how that interest translates into consumer sales. Researchers from the University of Missouri have found that United States consumers are more willing to buy clothing made from sustainably grown U.S. cotton than apparel produced using conventional practices in an unknown location. Jung Ha-Brookshire, an assistant professor in the textile and apparel management department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at MU, says transparency is the key.

"It is important for the to remain transparent about its products, especially if they are produced in a sustainable manner," Ha-Brookshire said. "We have shown that consumers want to know where their clothes come from and would rather buy sustainably produced clothes. Many apparel companies use ; however, they don't promote them very well."

Ha-Brookshire and fellow researcher Pamela Norum, an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the textile and apparel management department at MU, define sustainable cotton-growing practices as using fewer pesticides and less water, land, and energy compared to traditional practices, which result in a decreased environmental impact.

For their research, Ha-Brookshire and Norum surveyed 500 respondents nationwide. They found that not only were consumers more willing to buy sustainably produced cotton apparel grown in the U.S. over nonspecific cotton apparel, but consumers were willing to pay up to five dollars (16.7 percent) more for a $30 cotton shirt produced sustainably in the U.S.

Norum believes these results show how important it is for U.S. cotton growers and apparel companies to promote themselves.

"The apparel industry and specifically U.S. cotton farmers are missing a big opportunity to promote their brand," Norum said. "Consumers want to buy sustainably produced cotton and they want to buy U.S. cotton. Many U.S. cotton farmers are using these sustainable practices but aren't communicating that fact well enough to the public. If they would increase transparency about production would be more likely to buy their products."

The studies by Ha-Brookshire and Norum were published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing and Clothing and Textiles Research Journal.

Explore further: Why companies don't learn from their mistakes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cotton's potential for padding nonwovens

Sep 09, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have conducted studies to investigate the use of virgin cotton in nonwoven materials and products. The work was led by cotton technologist Paul Sawhney and his colleagues at ...

Recommended for you

Predicting human crowds with statistical physics

Feb 27, 2015

For the first time researchers have directly measured a general law of how pedestrians interact in a crowd. This law can be used to create realistic crowds in virtual reality games and to make public spaces safer.

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

Feb 27, 2015

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

Broken windows thesis springs a leak

Feb 27, 2015

The broken windows theory posits that minor misdemeanors, like littering or graffiti spraying, stimulate more serious anti-social behavior. LMU sociologists now argue that the idea is flawed and does not ...

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.