Why the industry needs to be aware of the rise of the conscious consumer

Driving sustainable messaging within the fashion industry to match market trends is essential.

A new disruptive frontier sweeps retail. One equally as ubiquitous to modern slavery. The buzzword sustainability has become synonymous with fashion on all levels in 2019, the importance for environmental responsibility is here.

The term ‘Plastics Moment’ is a new adage used to describe the enormity of plastic waste. The concept of ‘Plastics Moment’ is very much a harsh realisation of ‘oh no, we’ve mucked up a good thing’ and the fashion industry is said to be going through the same disruption.

On a global scale, the industry has begun to redefine how to assess retail products life cycles and how brands adapt to such big changes from grassroots to top dog. So how will ‘sustainability’ affect the customer experience in the fashion industry?

First things first, the customer buys into the ideals and values a brand demonstrates in order to be recognised amongst other players, and sustainability follows soon after as another pillar to the brand’s core values.

Every level of a brand must understand the importance when selling and or educating customers. A decision to embody sustainable action must be equally reflected internally because the employees are like a tribe. 

There is no doubt that the tribe are fielding a growing number of questions from customers than ever before. These questions reflect design decisions, manufacturing, negative impacts, ethical responsibility and much more. The level of expertise for employees to answer these queries do not have to be exorbitant, but they must be well considered.

The customers landscape is shifting rapidly and we’re moving at a faster pace than ever, with the new target consumer dubbed as the ‘conscious consumer’.

International brands are leading the way in educating customers on sustainable choices. Retailers know the experience begins in-store and the same method is applied in catering for a conscious consumer, they’re delivered an opportunity to learn and interact with sustainable product and they’re incentivised to revisit the store in order to return used garments to receive discounts. The international facilitators grooming customers to use and participate in the services is their tribe. Customers are relishing the different message they’re receiving visiting these stores, why? Because all their needs are being met.

The difference between the international brands is their message to market. Majority of Australian brands have not yet begun communicating the importance sustainability represents and how that change is filtering through. Therefore a special customer experience, especially to the conscious consumer, is failing to be delivered and they’ll choose to shop where they feel most engaged.

A brands tribe can overwhelmingly portray a leadership position very swiftly. The best example of brand values and customer experience is Eileen Fisher and Filippa K. Both are extremely large international fashion brands, who offer both take-back collection schemes and unique customer in-store experiences; including the opportunity to purchase up-cycled or second-hand products. 

The good news, local industry is working very quickly on new business systems and processes to reassess the very nature of sustainability. Although it will remain primarily internal dialogue for the next 12-18 months be rest assured the differences will be felt as we transition from linear to a circular economy.

As you can imagine companies as big as Target, Cotton-On or Kmart must take into consideration the enormity of their supply chain, various categories, departments and stakeholders. Imagine the essence of a tribe as big as theirs will bring to the customer experience and retail scene.

About the author: Known in the industry for her can-do attitude, with a feverous passion for recycling and sustainability, Camille Reed is actively pursuing her goals, the founder of The Australian Circular Fashion Conference. ACFC is an annual event supporting the AU+NZ fashion industry in becoming self-sufficient with sustainable practice. Looked to, as a leader in the field, she is also one of Australia’s most talented and recognised textile design artists. Camille is highly sort after for her textile design expertise and sustainability involvement within the fashion industry australiancircularfashion.com.au





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