Important findings on consumer buying habits in the Textile Clothing Fashion sector

Ecology and Environment

During the Circular Economy Needs Survey conducted as part of the C-Tex Project, a consumer questionnaire was conducted to get a full picture of the context.
The result of this survey will help companies involved in the production phase to understand what level of knowledge their customers have about the circular economy in the textile sector and what product features might need to be developed or modified. For distributors and brands, on the other hand, it could be useful to understand in which aspects to insist more from a marketing point of view to convey important features of a green or circular product, for example made with recycled material.

The realization of this survey stems from the need to understand whether the efforts made by companies towards the circular economy, for the entrepreneur’s own will, for legislative obligations or brand requests, are also received and perceived by the final customer.
The questionnaire, moreover, concerns green purchasing habits and aims to understand what is the average level of knowledge of customers on sustainability and circularity, and whether or not these aspects influence purchases.
At the end of the survey, short descriptions were included about some types of standards or certifications and the difference between terms such as Organic, Recycled and Regenerate. This decision was made so that this questionnaire could be useful not only for data collection but also for disseminating content of public interest.
The questionnaire was the subject of a thesis for the degree course in Management at the Catholic University of Milan. At the time of data processing, 320 questionnaires filled in voluntarily by people of different age groups were collected.
Purchasing habits
Participants were asked to fill in a “Google form” related to sustainability and circularity of purchases. The questions cover climate change sensitivity and relevant attributes at the time of purchase, level of knowledge about terms used, specific topics and certifications, and factors that increase the propensity to make green purchases.
Despite expectations The first result of the survey is that consumers prefer aspects such as quality, price, comfort and style. Attributes representing circularity (made from recycled materials) and sustainability and branding were found to be of “least interest.”
However, having to choose between two products, at the same price and quality, the choice is mostly influenced by the environmental impact of the products and Made in Italy.
Another category of questions was dedicated to the knowledge of certifications and useful information regarding circularity in the textile sector. In general, the answers of the interviewees show little knowledge of these terms or information, mainly on certification. For example, with regard to OEKO-TEX® standards, most people claim to have seen them before, yet 22% still do not know what they mean or why they are used.
The survey also showed that the level of knowledge regarding the separate collection of the textile fraction is extremely low: 86% of the people who took part in the questionnaire said they were not aware of the new regulations that will be in force from 2022.
Consumers’ suggestions
The most recurring suggestion made by the participants concerns the application of pricing policies (e.g. reduced VAT) that favor the purchase of products with a low environmental impact. This again shows that consumers are discouraged from pricing a sustainable product.
Respondents are in favour of making information on the environmental impact of the product compulsory, so that the consumer can immediately realize what the consequences of his purchase might be.
If you too would like to contribute to this survey on consumer habits regarding the circular economy, we invite you to fill out the short questionnaire, which will allow us to expand the collection of data to refine our purchasing evaluations and provide valuable feedback to the entire textile sector.
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Author: Elena Conti

Multisectoral Research and Innovation Dept.