The growing conscience of the fashion conscious

The growing conscience of the fashion conscious

Sustainability and authenticity have, in just a few short years, gone from being a conversation piece to becoming important purchasing decision considerations for UK fashion buyers. Brands will have to meet their needs without dramatically increasing costs, says Martin Jensen, CEO and co-founder of Centra.

10 years ago, sustainability was little more than a FAQ on a list pages deep on a brand’s website, and most of the activity was less about you as a customer and more about the company and how it was protecting the environment or causing further damage to it. Anyway, it was not really connected to the core business from a consumer point of view and was simply seen as the price of good citizenship.

Now, what was once simply called corporate social responsibility has brought the environment to the forefront and turned into environmental and regulatory compliance, from what companies once tried to do to what they actually do now. While the two abbreviations are not interchangeable, the emphasis is now on action.

The immediate consequence of this for anyone responsible for managing a balance sheet is additional costs, a fact that is often overlooked in the general enthusiasm for talking about how change can be achieved. And while additional costs are unavoidable, the lack of a well-thought-out plan will simply hurt margins that are already tight for many brands and are likely to get even tighter in the current economic crisis.

The journey to sustainability starts with understanding what consumers want. Many of the current conversations about sustainability are one-sided. That’s why in July of this year we commissioned a survey of over 2,000 UK shoppers, conducted by Savanta. We also wanted to test some of the assumptions currently being made that consumers will pay more for goods if they are sustainable.

The research appears in our latest report How your brand can reach its full potential globallyshowing that while the product itself is the most important consideration for 50% of consumers, key brand values, including fashion companies’ green credentials and how loyal the company is to the brand’s meaning, are emerging as growing considerations in the purchasing journeys.

Martin Jensen, CEO and co-founder of Centra. Image: Central

29% of consumers surveyed said sustainability was an important consideration when buying clothes. This rises to 36% of 18- to 24-year-olds, who are part of the growing Gen Z cohort, who exhibit very different behaviors than their elders. Either way, fashion buyers wear their hearts – and their values ​​- on their sleeves, and they conspicuously consume those brands that reflect and express their own values ​​and beliefs.

The survey further showed that 65% of shoppers say fashion brands should ’embed’ sustainability into their brand values ​​and 70% think retailers should do more to bring their eco-friendly values ​​to life through their sales channels and touchpoints. With demand for eco-fashion on the rise, 45% of shoppers say they would buy more from fashion brands clamoring for their green efforts and a further 58% said they would buy more from retailers committed to protecting the planet.

However, in the context of a growing number of media stories about ‘greenwashing’, 72% say sustainability claims should be supported by meaningful action from a brand before considering changing their purchasing behavior or changing their loyalty to a retailer. and 51% said if they viewed a retailer as “greenwashing,” it would give them a negative image of the brand.

Transparency is therefore key to gaining consumer trust, and this extends to sourcing, production and supply chain – where is this product made? How was it made? There also needs to be transparency on the human side of the retailer’s business, which is called social sustainability. For example, under what conditions were employees employed and how are they treated?

Linked to sustainability is thus authenticity, which adds to the credibility of the brand’s offerings; 25% of UK fashion buyers said authenticity, where the brand lives up to what it stands for, would also influence their buying decision, rising to 30% of 25-34 year olds. 64% of shoppers now want the online experience to align with the brand’s personality and values, which proved especially important for younger consumer demographics, rising to 71% of 18-24 year olds and 72% of 25 to 34 year olds respectively. More than two-fifths (42%) said if a retailer’s online shopping experience doesn’t embody the brand’s values, it would make them question their purchasing decision, while 39% said it would question their long-term loyalty to a brand .

So when it comes to fashion, that means online experiences should be at least as amazing as the products themselves and the brand’s stories should be consistent and authentic at every touchpoint. In this way, the retailer can remain relevant and true to the core values ​​of its own brand and those of its customers to drive sales and long-term customer value.

Achieving this, as brands look for new sales opportunities abroad, will depend on using data to understand the idiosyncratic preferences of consumers in each area and ideally by working with a partner who has experience in field. It’s less about the actual product and more about the performance, an important part of the offering that’s often criticized for being unsustainable, but where brands pay close attention to packaging, efficient loads, and returns.

Ultimately, once sustainability and authenticity are woven into the brand’s offerings, it’s not just about communicating a compelling story to environmentally conscious customers, but also about controlling the costs of building that story.

About Centers

Centra is a headless, SaaS e-commerce platform for medium to large fashion and lifestyle brands leading a direct-to-consumer and/or wholesale e-commerce business to the global marketplace. Leading brands such as Nudie Jeans, Djerf Avenue, Stronger, Eton Shirts and Sandqvist use Centra’s software to deliver next-generation experiences to consumers and wholesale buyers. Centra is the market leader in Scandinavia and is currently expanding throughout Europe. Founded in 2016, Centra is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, with offices in Wroclaw, Poland and New York, USA.

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