The growing consciousness of fashionistas

The growing consciousness of fashionistas

Durability and authenticity have gone from a topic of conversation to key considerations in the purchasing decision of British fashion buyers in just a few years. Brands will need to meet their needs without dramatically increasing their costs, says Martin Jensen, CEO and co-founder of Centra.

10 years ago, sustainability was little more than a frequently asked question on a list of deep pages on a brand’s website, and most activity was less about you the customer and more about the company and how it protected the environment or prevented further damage to it. Either way, it wasn’t really related to the core business from a consumer perspective and was just seen as the price to pay for being a good citizen.

Today, what used to be called corporate and social responsibility has put the environment first and morphed into environmental and regulatory compliance, from what companies once tried to do to what they currently do. While the two acronyms are not interchangeable, the emphasis is now on action.

The immediate consequence of this for anyone responsible for managing a balance sheet is an added cost, a fact that is often overlooked in the general enthusiasm for talking about how change can happen. And while additional costs are inevitable, the lack of a well-thought-out plan will simply eat away at margins that are already tight for many brands and will only get tighter in the current economic crisis.

The journey to sustainability starts with understanding what the consumer wants. Much of the current sustainability conversation has been one-sided, which is why we commissioned a study of over 2,000 UK shoppers, conducted by Savanta in July this year. We also wanted to test some of the assumptions that are currently being made, namely that consumers will pay more for goods if they are durable.

The research comes in our latest report How your brand can unlock its full potential on a global scalewhich shows that while the product itself is the top consideration for 50% of consumers, key brand values, including fashion companies’ eco-credentials and company loyalty to its brand meaning, emerge as increasing consideration factors in purchase journeys.

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

29% of consumers surveyed said sustainability was a key consideration when shopping for clothing. This rises to 36% of 18-24 year olds, part of the growing Gen Z cohort, who exhibit quite different behaviors from their elders. Either way, fashion shoppers wear their hearts – and their values ​​– on their sleeves, and they visibly consume those brands that reflect and shout about their own values ​​and beliefs.

The study went on to show that 65% of shoppers say fashion brands need to embed sustainability into their brand values ​​and 70% say retailers should do more to bring their eco-friendly values ​​to life across their channels. of sales and their points of contact. With the growing demand for eco-fashion, 45% of shoppers say they would buy more from fashion brands that tout their eco-friendly efforts and a further 58% said they would buy more frequently from retailers that are committed to eco-friendly fashion. Protect the planet.

However, against the backdrop of a growing number of stories in the media about ‘greenwashing’, 72% say sustainability claims need to be backed up with meaningful action by a brand before they actually happen. are considering changing their shopping behaviors or retaining a retailer, and 51% said if they perceived a retailer to be greenwashing, it would give them a negative image of the brand.

Transparency is therefore key to gaining consumer trust, and this relates to sourcing, manufacturing and the supply chain – where is this product made? How was it made? There must also be transparency about the human side of the retailer’s business, which is called social sustainability. For example, under what conditions have the workers been employed and how are they treated?

Authenticity is therefore linked to sustainability, which plays on the credibility of the brand’s offer; 25% of UK fashion shoppers said authenticity, when the brand lives up to what it stands for, would also impact their buying decision, rising to 30% of 25-34 year olds. 64% of shoppers now want the online experience to match brand personality and values, which has proven particularly important for younger consumers, reaching 71% of 18-24 year olds and 72% 25-34 year olds. old respectively. More than two-fifths (42%) said that if a retailer’s online shopping experience did not embody brand values, it would cause them to question their purchase decision, while 39 % said it would question their long-term loyalty to a brand.

So when it comes to fashion, that means online experiences need to be at least as stunning as the products themselves, and brand storytelling needs to be consistent and authentic at every touchpoint. This way, the retailer can stay relevant and true to their own brand’s core values ​​as well as those of their customers to drive sales and long-term customer value.

Achieving this, as brands seek new sales opportunities overseas, will require using data to understand the particular preferences of consumers in each territory and, ideally, working with a partner who has experience in the ground. It’s less about the actual product and more about the execution, a key part of the offering that’s often criticized for being unsustainable, but where brands pay close attention to packaging, efficient loading and returns. .

Ultimately, once sustainability and authenticity are built into the brand’s offering, it’s not just about communicating a compelling story to environmentally conscious customers, but about managing costs. construction of this story.

About Centra

Centra is a headless SaaS e-commerce platform for mid-sized to enterprise fashion and lifestyle brands doing direct-to-consumer and/or wholesale e-commerce to the global market. 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 the Nordic countries and is currently expanding throughout Europe. Centra was founded in 2016 and is based in Stockholm, Sweden, with offices in Wroclaw, Poland and New York, USA.

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