Japanese global apparel retailer, UNIQLO and the School of Fashion and Textiles at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have collaborated to conduct a survey on consumer perceptions of sustainable fashion in Hong Kong and Macau, which investigates the views and perceptions of consumers in the two regions on sustainable fashion and the changing consumption patterns caused by the pandemic.
The study results revealed that overall customer views toward clothing retail companies in Hong Kong and Macau are linked to the brand's vision and activities related to the SDGs. Consumers have become more concerned about sustainable fashion in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 80% of respondents saying they would consider a brand's position and approach to sustainability issues when selecting clothing, and more than 60% saying they would be willing to pay a premium of 10% to 20% above the original price for a sustainable fashion product.
While more than 70% of consumers are positive about sustainable fashion products and agree that sustainable fashion is a good idea, the percentage of those who like sustainable fashion products is relatively low (around 60%), indicating that the appeal of such products needs to be strengthened further.
Approximately 45% of respondents are likewise cautious in their trust in clothes retail brands. According to the survey results, the pandemic has altered consumer purchase habits in Hong Kong and Macau. Better awareness and comprehension of sustainable fashion items and brand initiatives, in particular, were shown to improve customers' willingness to acquire these products.
As sustainable fashion becomes more significant and popular, there is a larger need for consumer education and marketing, as well as for garment retail firms to modify their business models in response to customer expectations.
According to survey data, more than 80% of Hong Kong and Macau consumers comprehend the idea of "sustainable development," and around 56% are aware of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations. Although Hong Kong and Macau consumers are more aware of the SDGs (56%) than global consumers (49.7%), more than 40% of respondents are still unaware of the concept, indicating that the Hong Kong and Macau markets must continue to communicate the concept of sustainable development.
In terms of brand commitment, studies show that Hong Kong and Macau consumers prioritize brand commitment to two SDGs, namely "clean water and sanitation" and "zero poverty." Consumers in Hong Kong and Macau, on the other hand, are less concerned with the SDGs of "excellent education," "responsible consumption and production," and "living on land," which are considered the most important by worldwide consumers.
Respondents identified the three most significant aspects when choosing a fashion brand, especially after the pandemic's breakout, including decreasing waste and environmental footprint in the production or sales process; balancing product function and environmental effect; and sourcing in a humane approach.
According to the poll, 64 percent of respondents say the epidemic has made them more likely to purchase durable apparel. During the epidemic, respondents stated they paid more attention to practicality (66.4 percent) and product quality (50.7 percent), followed by price (47.7 percent), appearance (35.4 percent), and personalization (30.1 percent ). According to 43% of respondents, items with a long life cycle are crucial criteria for firms to achieve the notion of "sustainable fashion."
Di Fan, assistant professor at PolyU’s School of Fashion and Textiles, who coordinated the survey, said that in recent years, a rising number of fashion firms or industry professionals have been paying greater attention to sustainable development. They have witnessed the competition of garment retail firms steadily shift from product design and pricing considerations to sustainability issues, making sustainable fashion more of customer concern.
He added that this shift in consumer buying habits can have a favorable influence on the fashion industry's current economic model and that this shift in behavior demonstrates a broad knowledge of the fashion industry's environmental pollution. The poll, designed by PolyU's School of Fashion and Textiles, was performed between late March and mid-April 2022 among 1,498 customers from various age groups and vocations on their impressions of sustainable fashion in Hong Kong and Macau. This combined presentation of consumer survey data signifies the start of a long-term partnership between UNIQLO and PolyU's School of Fashion & Textiles.
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