Sustainability, transparency and circularity: the state of play according to the Digital Consumer Behavior 2.0 report
The Digital Consumer Behavior 2.0 report by Avery Dennison and GWI explores digital consumer behavior and how technology, rising cost of living crisis, and changing consumer sentiment are transforming the fashion marketplace
The report examines consumer priorities and expectations, but also what information they desire to have from brands. The data are very interesting and some of them cover issues dear to us at Certilogo, such as sustainability, transparency and circularity. However, before talking about them we want to dwell on the role of technology.
Digital Consumer Behavior 2.0: the role of technology
The Digital Consumer Behavior 2.0 reports the opinions of fashion consumers around the world in a time of technological, environmental, cultural and organizational transformation. As Michael Colarossi, Vice President of Innovation and Product Line Management at Avery Dennison, says, "consumers are looking to brands and companies to guide them through change." And technology can be very helpful to them, especially connected products.
Here are 3 interesting considerations about the role of technology:
- New technology (e.g., NFT, VR and AR) add value for consumers. With the pandemic and change in shopping habits, there has been a boom in digital services such as virtual fitting rooms to enhance online shopping. But similar services now allow consumers to evaluate their personal wardrobes, both from a style and economic perspective. In fact, it has become easier for them to understand the value of a garment for resale.
- Technology can help meet sustainability needs. Fashion shoppers want brands to help them make more sustainable purchases. Digital product IDs are key to enabling shoppers to better understand the origin of a garment, but also how to repair, recycle, and resell it. This not only encourages more sustainable fashion choices, but also the adoption of new business models.
Sustainability, transparency, and circularity
Let's take a deeper dive into the report's data on sustainability, transparency and circularity.
Fashion shopping, budget and sustainability
Worldwide, 3 out of 4 shoppers confirm that their budgets for fashion purchases have decreased due to the rising cost of living. In Europe and U.S., the proportion is even higher. This facilitates Fast Fashion which is cheap and continuously churns out collections. So, is sustainability no longer important to consumers? Absolutely yes. In fact, among those who are open to buying second-hand, almost as many say it's due to a change in the financial situation as those who do so for environmental reasons.
Sustainability and expectations
Buyers expect fashion brands to be committed to sustainability and social responsibility. Above all, they want brands to be transparent about production practices. In some markets, for example, Mexico and the U.S., transparency about ethical practices are considered more important than ecological efforts.
As we have seen, technology is helpful in meeting expectations for transparency and avoiding greenwashing. Especially buyers in Europe and Mexico are eager to scan digital triggers for greater transparency on human and labour rights.
Information that buyers want
2 out of 3 buyers worldwide want to have accessible information about a garment's history before their purchase. More than 4 in 10 are interested in knowing what happens to the garment after discarding it. This has generated an increased demand for scannable garment labels through which consumers can make more sustainable decisions.
In general, consumers (especially in China and Mexico) would like companies to help them take better care of their clothes, and understand how to recycle, resell, or repair items they no longer want. This information extends the life of garments with positive environmental impacts.
In addition, more than half of consumers surveyed say they have repaired broken, stained or aged garments, and 6 in 10 say they might do so in the future. This presents an opportunity for fashion brands to give new life to old clothes.
The second hand market
Much of the Digital Consumer Behaviour 2.0 data was collected during the ongoing pandemic at the time. During this period, 4 in 10 fashion buyers said they buy second-hand (mainly in Europe, Mexico, and the United States), and a third said they would be more open to doing so after the pandemic.
The second-hand market is still unexplored territory for many fashion brands, which thus miss out on revenue opportunities. To take advantage, however, technologies are needed to help track the value and authenticity of garments. All it takes, for example, is a QR code leading to a digital product passport to authenticate the product and facilitate verified purchases and, thus, promote more circularity in fashion.
Differences in markets
Speaking of second-hand, the report notes a gap between APAC and the rest of the world: it is more prevalent in Europe (50 percent), Mexico (60 percent) and the United States (50 percent) , and less so in China (34 percent) and Japan (46 percent).
Another gap concerns age: Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to buy secondhand fashion items than Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Gender and income are also important: women and low-income buyers tend to buy more secondhand fashion than men and high-income buyers. Japan and China are two exceptions, though: here it is higher income shoppers who appreciate secondhand items more.
Many fashion buyers say that the ability to authenticate garments is one of the main reasons why they would use digital triggers attached to garments. This is especially true in countries such as China, Japan, and Mexico, where counterfeiting is widespread. This is inline with Certilogo's own research which shows that 81% of shoppers find authentication very or extremely important when buying both new and pre-loved fashion.
Shoppers are concerned about whether the garment they buy is authentic, so they willingly accept digital tools that can help them certify authenticity. Product identification solutions are a solution that will contribute to a more efficient second-hand market.
Nearly a quarter of consumers globally say they have used a fashion rental platform. In the past, this number was higher in China and Mexico. As for the United States and Europe, relatively few consumers use rental platforms, this is because the rising cost of living makes them prefer buying and keeping clothes.