Buying a skirt, shirt or a new purse is just as normal these days as getting a coffee and a croissant in the morning: for ‘5,- consumers buy a coffee at Starbucks and for the exact same price they are buying a tank-top from Primark. Consumers are buying unconscious and care less about the quality and the value of fashion. They do not seem to think about the labour-conditions under which these garments are made:
”Prices profess that these clothes are to be thrown away, discarded as a condom and forgotten before being loved and savoured, teaching young consumers that fashion has no value. The culture of fashion is thus destroyed (Lidewij Edelkoort, 2015).”
One of the world most famous and hugely influential fashion forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort makes a fierce statement about the unconsciousness of the young and future consumers, but there is also research that shows the positivity about the consumer of the future. Will it be the consumer or the brand that takes it to the level of consciousness consumerism by 2035?
Until recently consumers didn’t seem to put thoughts to what they where actually buying. According to Julie Gilhart, former fashion director of department store Barneys NY and one of fashion’s most influential consultants, transparency of information is a key factor between consumers and the brand but not just from traditional news sources. Social media is having a major effect on conscious consumerism. Images of the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar, Bangladesh or a photo of the woman who makes our ’10, – sweater for only a two cents per hour are popping up in our faces through social media at any time of the day. We are standing at the dawn of a new age, as Elettra Wiedeman says, Winner of the 2011 Young Environmentalist Award, the internet is changing the way people relate to these issues. Digital tools are helping us to increase the knowledge of the world, and ourselves, helping us to realise the possibilities of truly conscious consumption, written by Tom Adams, Global head of strategy of FutureBrand. An example of this is Fashion Revolution Day; ”to build connections throughout the fashion supply chain, linking the cotton farmer, the dyer and the seamstress with the consumer,” using Social Media. (SOURCE) Thanks to the internet consumers are asking themselves what to consume, which brands we choose and what personal and aggregate impact those choices might have. According to the BBMG, Globescan & Sustainability report of 2014; Consumers care, and do not hesitate using social media to share their opinion in the future.
Even though there is no doubt that companies are making efforts to become transparent about their practices, Tom Adams, Julie Irwin, professor at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, worries about the pessimism about ethical consumerism that gives companies the idea that they should not peruse the moral high ground because consumers will not reward them for it. Yet, Honestby, a company launched by Bruno Pieters, Belgian fashion designer, knows from experience that it is not true that if the sales of a brand are good, their consumers do not care whether their products were produced in an ethically conscious way. There is a possibility there could be an initial loss from switching business models form old to new, but in the long term using sustainable materials and using an open supply chain can actually increase your profit. ”Its all about smart decisions made by smart, aware people.” (Julie Gilhart, 2014). The most self-confident brands may even be complicit in de-fetishizing the commodity, by recognising the advantages of adoptin the kind of radical transparency that connects consumers with real producers, rather than risking involuntary exposure; Tom Adams. Currently the market share for sustainable brands aren’t as high as other brands, Julie Irwin does not think that today’s sales are the best barometer of conscious consumerism; It just needs better marketing, then we can draw conclusions. ”If low prices is all a company offers, it is easy enough for the consumer to walk away when a lower price comes calling”.
So the question is who will drive this change the consumers as Julie Irwin mentioned, or do brands need to cross the river first. Consumers do know that their actions are effecting other people in this way of consuming, so they do want to change Elettra Wiederman. The ethical consumer exist. Tom Adams shows that the first steps are with the consumer; they are getting more organised and brands need to do the same and prepare for the future where information is mandatory in a consumers buying behaviour. If you give them the information, they will incorporate this into their purchasing. Consumers are very much interested in becoming fully conscious of the circumstances in which they purchases are made, Tom Adams. The BCG forecast a new consumer group the Millenials that expect companies to care about social issue and will reward those that partner with the right cause. The BBMG, Globescan and Sustainability forecast that consumers want companies to give them a feeling of confidence that purchasing sustainable products is the better thing to do. ”Conscious brands must provide us with choices that meet our wants, and increasingly better informed needs”. Tom Adams. By a research done by Made In it has show that country of manufacture itself is more important than ever to consumers in their purchase behaviour. The BBMG, Globescan & Sustainability has shown in their research that a majority of consumers globally agree that they would purchase more products that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible, if they performed as well (75%) and it didn’t cost more (70%)!!ADD REFERENCE BRUNO PIETERS!! Consumers are ready to be part of the solution.
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