Millennials Care About Sustainability, But They're Not Shopping That Way

by: Lucy Jones | 3 years ago | News

Two tree huggers captured by Ashley Armitage. Image Source.

Millennials care about sustainability, but they aren’t actually shopping sustainably, and that’s not their fault. At least that’s what a new Business of Fashion report suggests. The publication claims that millennials aren’t able to buy the sustainable clothing that they want because companies either don’t make the product or don’t market it properly.

By the end of 2018, millennials will have more spending power than any other generation so big brands should be paying attention to their values. A number of studies show that sustainability is one of these values. BoF’s 2018 State of Fashion report claimed that 66% of millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Other research, conducted by fashion business school LIM College, found that 90% of millennials believe they can convince businesses and governments to become more sustainable. The same percentage of respondents said they would boycott a brand if it wasn’t sustainable. However, only 34% of the millennials surveyed by LIM College said that they have actually made sustainable purchases. 

The Oeko-Tex Association, an international textile research, testing and certification organisation, has also noticed a gap between intention and action when it comes to millennial’s sustainable shopping habits. The organisation believes that millennials are more aware of the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry than previous generations were. This means that they are more likely to be concerned about harmful substances in their clothing. Of a group of millennials surveyed by Oeko-Tex, 60% said they were interested in certified sustainable clothing and 69% said they check if a company is eco-friendly or sustainable before making a purchase. But, once again, the percentage of millennials putting these ideas into action was much lower with only 37% of the respondents saying they've purchased sustainable clothing. 

This data suggests that millennials believe in sustainability but they aren’t shopping that way. Why? Because companies simply don’t offer a versatile range of sustainable products and, even when they do, they don’t promote those products effectively. According to the Business of Fashion, “the vast majority of brands do not offer the scale or variety of sustainable fashion items to meet millennial expectations and tastes.” These brands also often fail to tick the three boxes that, according to LIM College, are most important to millennial shoppers — ease of purchase, price and value.

The other major factor that prevents shoppers from buying sustainably is bad marketing. “Sustainability information needs to be clear, visible and easily accessible — both in-store and online,” BoF writes. 

“This includes putting details on environmental and ethical credentials in e-commerce product descriptions and on physical product labels and banners in retail stores. Specifically, integrating consumer facing sustainability labels such as the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) or the certified Leather Working Group (LWG) could help.”

They also suggest that e-commerce platforms should give consumers the option to search by sustainable attributes like ‘fair’ or ‘minimal waste’, a service that we currently provide on Well Made Clothes!

We want more millennials to be able to make the sustainable purchases that they want to make. That’s why we provide a versatile range of clothing, detailed brand and product descriptions, and clear shoppable breakdowns of our eight Well Made Clothes values. We hope more brands will adopt these strategies in the near future but, until then, you can satisfy all your responsible clothing needs right here on Well Made Clothes.

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