Consumer research: has Rana Plaza affected people’s shopping?

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Don’t care, don’t know, or something else?

If you read the headlines about recent consumer surveys on (ethical) fashion shopping in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse, you’d probably think that the coverage of this tragic event hasn’t made a dent in consumers’ consciences or behavior. But, look beneath the headlines and delve into the details, and there’s more to this. Start here…

… According to BBMG’s research, 70 percent of consumers chose practical purchase drivers (price, design, comfort, fit, etc.) as the only considerations when buying apparel, and only 4 percent acknowledged that safe working conditions for garment workers make it into the consideration set when shopping. Another interesting finding was that “nearly 50 percent of these shoppers chose mainstream fast fashion brands as their favorites and 91 percent had no idea where or by whom their favorite brands’ clothing is sewn.” At the same time, BBMG notes consumers are not satisfied with this lack of information and “want more information to help them make better decisions.” So one issue is clearly the lack of information about companies’ level of corporate responsibility. For one thing, we still don’t have sufficient objective measurements or tools to help us understand which companies are more responsible than the others. What we do have are mostly companies’ own reports on their CSR efforts, which can be very subjective to put it politely. In addition, even companies that are recognized (by other parties, not just by their own people) as sustainability leaders usually fail to effectively communicate their sustainability efforts. …

Click for more.

What some academic researchers argue, however, is that what’s missing is an understanding of consumption, the meanings that our clothes have for us. We’ve blogged about this, here and here. It’s something that requires some specialized qualitative research, the kind that we’ll be doing in Exeter’s Guildhall Shopping Centre in a few week’s time. We’ll see.

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