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Survey shows transparency is key for clothing and home textiles brands

Lenzing Survey shows that transparency is key for clothing and home textiles brands to win consumer trust and confidence, with eco-friendly and biodegradable being favourable terms that increase likelihood of purchase

2nd September 2020

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Lenzing, Austria


Lenzing Group (Lenzing), a leader in sustainably produced wood-based specialty fibres, has announced the findings from its Global Consumer Perception Survey on Sustainable Raw Materials in Fashion and Home Textiles. The survey, which was conducted in early 2020, assessed the perceptions and behaviour of conscious consumers* towards sustainable clothing and home textile products**, as well as their views towards sustainable raw materials and product features.

To understand consumer interest in sustainable materials and their current knowledge, a total of 9000 respondents across nine countries aged between 18 and 64 were surveyed using online questionnaires. The key findings of the survey provided a glimpse into consumer habits towards pursuing a sustainable lifestyle, their knowledge of the raw materials used in clothing and home textile products, their perception towards brands, and preferred product descriptions.

Lenzing says the findings also reflected the imminent need for closer collaboration within the clothing and home textile industries to provide consumers with more transparent information about the products they purchase, in order to enhance consumer trust and maximize business potential.

Three key findings of the survey are outlined below:

Conscious Consumers actively engage in pursuing a sustainable lifestyle and are constantly educating themselves about raw materials

Almost all (86%) of respondents believe purchasing clothes made from sustainable raw materials is a key component of living a more sustainable lifestyle, and they frequently purchase products from brands that are committed to using sustainable raw materials (80%) or recycled materials (77%) in their products. The survey also revealed that the majority of respondents actively learn about sustainability through researching the production process of products before purchasing (76% in clothing and 74% in bedding and home textiles). They also tend to read label hangtags (88% in clothing and 86% in bedding and home textiles), and most respondents are willing to pay an average of 40% more for clothing or home textile products with descriptions that reflect sustainability.

When shopping for clothing and home textile products, respondents consider the material type to be their most important consideration (ranked in the top three factors for consideration by 44% of respondents), which is above price, design, brand reputation and function.

Products described as ‘Eco-friendly’ or ‘Natural’ with a ‘Biodegradable’ or ‘Recyclable’ afterlife appeal to consumers

When asked about definition of sustainable clothing, respondents considered products being processed or manufactured using humane, eco-responsible production processes and products made from natural, organic or botanic materials as top considerations. Over 80% of respondents expressed that they are “extremely interested” or “very interested” in sustainable fashion and purchasing clothing made from sustainable raw materials.

When asked about their preference for clothing and home textile products, half of the respondents said they would be more likely to purchase a product described as “eco-friendly” or “natural”, whereas over 60% of respondents are more likely to purchase products with a “recyclable” or “biodegradable” afterlife. Given the popularity of such terms, there are opportunities for brands to provide more descriptions and greater clarity to the materials, production processes and product afterlife information to their products as consumer education.

Brands with greater transparency on raw materials and ingredients can gain consumer trust

Most respondents considered brands that are transparent with their ingredients (83%) and the origin of their raw materials (82%) as trustworthy. At the same time, respondents also consider brands that are transparent about their production processes (82%), sustainable practices (81%) and where their raw materials come from (82%) as trusted brands. While respondents believed that knowing what raw materials were used in their clothing and home textile products is important to build confidence in a brand (87%), they also believed that knowing the brand’s environmental impact when deciding to purchase (87%) is very important.

Infographic depicting further information about Lenzing’s consumer survey. © Lenzing.Infographic depicting further information about Lenzing’s consumer survey. © Lenzing.

“The findings of this survey prove the value of Lenzing’s ongoing efforts in driving the sustainability dialogue across the textile supply chain, from yarn makers to consumer brands. Based on the survey, we gained a more comprehensive understanding of consumer perceptions globally. The rating of material type being the top consideration factor when shopping for clothing and home textile products has also echoed our belief that consumers value and actively look out for sustainable products. This survey provided us, our partners and brands with insights to curate more targeted strategies and programs to drive sustainability, not only on raw materials, but also product afterlife. In the long run, we hope to bring optimal value for the clothing and home textiles industry supply chain and help brands achieve new heights, drive sustainability and safeguard our planet.” said Florian Heubrandner, Vice President of Global Business Management Textiles at Lenzing.

Collaboration in the fashion and textiles industry is essential for driving greater transparency

Though sustainability has been a hot topic among brands, to enhance transparency, there is still room for the supply chain to evolve communications on raw materials, production process and product afterlife, Lenzing says. Given consumers are already actively searching for sustainable products, it is important for the industry and brands to revolutionize how technical knowledge is translated into consumer language on websites, product tags and labels, the company adds.

To drive change, Lenzing says it has been taking the lead with a three-pillar approach to increase industry collaboration and shift towards sustainability by ensuring a higher degree of transparency and enabling verification of raw material origin from production process to final garment. The three-pillar approach covers special fibre identification technology, a blockchain-based tracking system, and proactive supply chain collaboration and planning. Such approach is also complemented by Lenzing’s bespoke e-branding platform for manufacturers and brands, providing one-stop support for fabric certification, including fabric testing, identification numbers and hangtags to offer reassurance that sustainability is in every step of the supply chain.

“We are thrilled to see more consumers embrace a sustainable fashion lifestyle by making informed purchases based on research and reading product labels. With rising consumer expectations towards sustainability, over the past few years, we have been transforming and upgrading the Tencel brand experience through proactive engagement programs on sustainable cellulosic fibres,” said Harold Weghorst, Vice President of Global Brand Management at Lenzing.

“Consumer interest in eco-friendly and biodegradable products aligns with our ongoing commitment to bring brands and consumers more sustainable and biodegradable options to the clothing and home textile industries. Derived from sustainably sourced wood, Tencel branded fibres offer breathability, quality and biodegradability to clothing and home textile fabrics that are used in our everyday lives. While we continue to advocate for innovation in sustainable raw materials, we will continue to go beyond fibres and look for new ways to engage brands and consumers, enabling them to embrace sustainability anytime, anywhere,” added Weghorst.

The survey which was commissioned by Lenzing in partnership with Wakefield Research, a market research firm, surveyed online a total of 9000 respondents aged between 18 and 64 from nine countries including China, Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Germany, U.K. and the U.S. in early 2020.

*Refers to consumers who: 1) Are image-conscious and value eco-friendly products; 2) Believe that brands play an important role by acting ethically, producing sustainable products and giving back to their communities; 3) Are influenced by deals, others' opinions and environmentally friendly practices of companies and 4) Have purchased clothes and home textiles within the past 2 years.

**Home textile products include bedding, draperies, carpets, towels, etc.

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