Interest in Sustainability in Fashion Shopping Rises

May 12, 2022

Some 8 in 10 US consumers believe that sustainability is at least “somewhat important” when shopping for fashion, apparel and footwear, according to recent survey results from CGS. This represents a significant rise from about half (51%) who said the same last year and roughly two-thirds (68%) in 2019.

The results indicate that Millennials (33%) are the most likely to believe that purchasing sustainable products is “very important,” with 28% of Gen Z respondents agreeing. This echoes recent research from First Insight, in which Millennials were more apt than Gen Z to indicate a preference for buying from sustainable brands.

However, Gen Z were the most likely to pay a premium of more than 15% for sustainable products, according to this latest research. Overall, 2 in 3 (68%) consumers surveyed would pay more for sustainable products, a figure also up from 2020 (56%) and 2019 (47%).

About 1 in 7 (14% of) respondents are purchasing from businesses with sustainable practices. Roughly one-third (34%) believe a sustainable brand promises eco-friendly practices and reduces waste, and a similar figure (32%) believe commitment to ethical labor practices should be a priority for brands. Consumers want a lot from brands on the sustainability front: close to 9 in 10 adults in a recent survey said that brands should do a lot more to reduce their carbon impact, and likewise almost 9 in 10 said that sustainability should be standard business practice.

Of course, it helps if consumers know what brands are up to. Almost 4 in 10 respondents to the CGS survey would be motivated to buy more sustainable products if they received more information around the initiatives. And while the percentage of consumers who believe brands offer enough transparency into their sustainability practices has risen from 2020, it remains at about one-third (34%).

There is of course some concern about greenwashing, with many US adults believing brands try too hard to make it look like they care about things besides their own bottom line. A recent survey of executives around the world conducted for Google Cloud found 58% agreeing that green hypocrisy exists and that their organization has overstated its sustainability efforts, with two-thirds (66%) also questioning the sincerity of their organization’s sustainability initiatives.

Practicing rather than preaching seems to be an answer, and an important one: 4 in 5 consumers in the US say they’d stop using a product they discovered damages the environment.

About the Data: The CGS results are based on a survey of more than 1,000 US individuals across generations. The Google Cloud results are based on a survey conducted by The Harris Poll among 1,491 executives across 16 countries.

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