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Vogue Polska & BCG: Report „Consumers Adaptation to Sustainability in Fashion” - Edition 2021

Raport Vogue Polska x BCG

75% of 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. Yet similar bold declarations do not necessarily translate into concrete individual actions. Although as many as two-thirds of those surveyed expressed willingness to pay more for sustainable products, a 20% increase in price reduces the initial demand for sustainable apparel by up to 62%.

Click link to download the report or read it below.

On the verge of catastrophe

The threat of the 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, over 570 cities could be at risk of a 0.5 meters sea-level rise, and 250 million people could become displaced due to adverse environmental conditions,” warns Oktawian Zając, Managing Director and Partner at the Warsaw office of Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

These are not only companies, but entire sectors that are growing more aware of the seriousness of the situation.

“The fashion industry largely contributes to the world’s looming climate catastrophe, accounting for 5% of global carbon emissions and nearly 20% of wastewater,” underlines 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 put them at the center of attention in their newest "Consumers' Adaptation to Sustainability in Fashion" report. It will be the first publication in Poland and one of the first in the world to cover the topic of consumer price sensitivity in the fashion industry within the context of sustainability.

According to the report, 75% of Polish consumers regard sustainability as an important everyday factor. It is increasingly reflected by their daily habits. 61% of respondents declare that they have cut down on the use of single-use packaging. 43% of participants claim to use alternative transport means such as bikes and public transport, and 31% say they reduced their consumption of meat.

Nevertheless, one in four of those surveyed remain indifferent or skeptical about buying sustainable clothing over non-sustainable garments. Of those who do not shop sustainably, 69% do not see eco-credentials as important factors in their purchasing decisions, while 42% are put off by doubts about the ethical and environmental impact of brands. Others claim to believe that sustainable apparel is 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 for longer or giving them a new life. 40% of consumers claim to buy ethical apparel. Moreover, as many as 38% of the survey’s respondents have signaled their readiness to buy more secondhand clothes once the pandemic is over.

BCG’s price elasticity of demand analysis has also shown that about two-thirds of Polish consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable apparel. Yet for most of them, regardless of whether they shop online or offline, a 20% increase in price reduces the initial demand for sustainable apparel by up to 62%.

According to the authors, one of the most alarming conclusions of the report is the fact that up to 26% of consumers would not consider buying sustainable apparel even if it was priced the same as regular apparel. Their unwillingness to do so is attributed to quality concerns.

Additionally, it is worrisome that there is a high percentage of consumers who do not understand what sustainability means. It oscillates between 20% and 30%, which signals a clear need to intensify educational activities that had already been undertaken by brands.

Education as the key to change

Polish consumers, although increasingly more aware that their purchasing choices affect the state of the planet, remain unsure about which products meet sustainability standards. That’s why BCG and Vogue Polska emphasize that consumer education and awareness-raising should form the basis of business strategies implemented by firms operating within the fashion industry.

The authors of the report make recommendations on further actions that companies should take to encourage more conscious shopping. These include expanding their sustainable product offerings, addressing the perception of inferiority of sustainable apparel through the better communication of its quality and rolling our such new business models as rent, reuse and resell. At the same time, it must be remembered that turning consumers’ declarations regarding sustainability into actions is merely one of the challenges that brands need to face. The starting point for each of them should be to transform their supply chains.

The content of the publication has been additionally supplemented with comments of partner organizations, including CCC, LPP, Allegro, WWF Poland, Mandel, Lenzing, TENCEL, Pandora, and FARFETCH. The representatives of each of these companies shared their experience in implementing green strategies.

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