Op-Ed | What Consumers Really Think About Sustainability #71


Consumers’ mixed signals on sustainability pose tough but surmountable obstacles for fashion brands, argue Sarah Willersdorf and Robbin Mitchell.

Consumer demand for sustainability is at an all-time high and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. A recent survey of American consumers by Boston Consulting Group found that 75 percent view sustainability as “important” or “very important” with more than one-third reporting they have at some point switched from their preferred brand to a more environmentally friendly alternative. And far from diminishing amid the pandemic, environmental concern is actually on the rise. Seventy percent of respondents are now more aware that our climate is affected by human activity than they were before the crisis began.

But if shoppers are increasingly cognisant of the ecological costs of their purchases, rising to the challenge is easier said than done for the brands targeting them.

Despite growing consumer demand for sustainable goods, it’s not always clear what consumers are actually demanding. Sustainability remains a nebulous concept that means different things to different people and continues to shift as a priority over time. Many consumers struggle to identify what makes a brand or product sustainable to begin with. Some are unwilling to pay a higher price.

Business of fashion