WARSAW, Poland, April 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Three out of four Polish consumers regard sustainability as an important factor influencing their purchasing decisions, the latest report by Vogue Polska and the Warsaw office of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has found. In practice, however, such preferences do not necessarily translate into concrete individual actions. Although as many as two-thirds of those surveyed expressed a willingness to pay more for sustainable products, the report found that a 20% increase in price reduced initial demand for sustainable apparel by up to 62%.
Approximately 5% of global carbon emissions are generated by the fashion industry.
75% of Polish consumers perceive sustainability as an important purchasing factor.
25% are indifferent to or skeptical about sustainable fashion.
61% say they have limited their use of single-use packaging.
59% claim to support companies that act in a sustainable manner.
40% claim to buy sustainable apparel.
38% say they intend to buy more secondhand clothes after the pandemic.
66% claim to be willing to pay more for eco-friendly and ethically produced apparel items.
Up to 26% would choose an unsustainable option over a sustainable one even at the same price.
A 20% increase in price reduces initial demand for sustainable apparel by up to 62%.
20% to 30% of Polish consumers report difficulty in defining what sustainability means.
On the Verge of Catastrophe
The threat of a climate catastrophe is imminent, and we are running out of time to stop it. «If we continue on the current climate trajectory, we may soon face catastrophic and irreversible changes. By 2050, more than 570 cities could be at risk from a 0.5-meter rise in global sea level, and adverse environmental conditions could displace 250 million people,» warns Oktawian Zając, managing director and partner in the Warsaw office of BCG.
Not only individual companies, but entire sectors of the fashion industry are growing more aware of the seriousness of the situation.
«The fashion industry is a major contributor to the world’s looming climate catastrophe, accounting for 5% of global carbon emissions and nearly 20% of wastewater,» notes Kasia Jordan-Kulczyk, chairwoman of Vogue Polska. «However, these numbers have started to change in recent years, mainly due to pressure from international organizations, the media, and the public.»
Hope Lies in the Consumer
Consumers are the key driver pushing the industry to assume greater responsibility for its environmental impact. Accordingly, BCG and Vogue Polska decided to focus on them in their new report, «Consumers’ Adaptation to Sustainability in Fashion.» It will be the first publication in Poland and one of the first in the world to address consumer price sensitivity in the fashion industry in the context of sustainability.
According to the report, 75% of Polish consumers regard sustainability as an important everyday factor that increasingly influences their daily habits. Among survey respondents, 61% declare that they have reduced their use of single-use packaging, 43% claim to use alternative means of transport such as bikes and public transport, and 31% say that they have reduced their consumption of meat.
Nevertheless, one in four respondents remain indifferent to or skeptical about buying sustainable clothing in preference to nonsustainable garments. Of those who do not shop sustainably, 69% do not view eco-credentials as important factors in their purchasing decisions, and 42% have doubts about the ethical and environmental impact of brands. Others consider sustainable apparel to be either too limited in range relative to regular product lines (21%) or too expensive (20%).
Conscious Fashion—Opportunities and Challenges
Poles are growing more receptive to the idea of using garments longer or giving them a new life. Overall, 40% of consumers say that they buy ethical apparel, and up to 38% indicate a readiness to buy more secondhand clothes once the pandemic is over.
BCG’s price elasticity of demand analysis shows that about two-thirds of Polish consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable apparel. Yet regardless of whether they were shopping online or offline, consumers lowered their initial demand for sustainable apparel by up to 62% in response to a 20% increase in price.
One of the most alarming results from the survey is the finding that up to 26% of consumers would not consider buying sustainable apparel even if it were priced the same as regular apparel. The main reason these consumers cite for their unwillingness to do so is concern about product quality.
Another worrisome finding involves the high percentage of consumers who do not understand what sustainability means. That figure, which ranges from 20% to 30%, signals a clear need for brands to intensify the educational activities that they have already undertaken.
Education as the Key to Change
Despite an increasing awareness that their purchasing choices affect the state of the planet, Polish consumers remain unsure about which products meet sustainability standards. For that reason, firms operating within the fashion industry should make consumer education a central component of their business strategy, according to the report.
The report’s authors recommend a number of additional actions that companies should take to encourage more conscious shopping. These include expanding sustainable product offerings, addressing misperceptions about the quality of sustainable apparel through better communication, and rolling out such new business models as rent, reuse, and resell. At the same time, converting consumers’ declared support for sustainability into real-world behavior is just one of the challenges that brands face. The starting point for each brand should be to transform its supply chains.
The report also contains comments by executives from an array of partner organizations—including Allegro, CCC, FARFETCH, Lenzing, LPP, Mandel, Pandora, TENCEL, and WWF Poland—sharing their experience in implementing green strategies.
A copy of the report can be downloaded here.
About Boston Consulting Group
Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.
Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.
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SOURCE Boston Consulting Group (BCG)