This dissertation was submitted by Sharannya Kotalawala for MSc. in Digital Marketing at Northumbria University.
Chapter 1: Introduction
The global rise in environmental and ethical concerns has led to a notable increase in the growing importance of sustainable fashion on a global scale. Similar to their counterparts in numerous other nations, the younger generation in the United Kingdom is gradually becoming aware of the ecological repercussions of their decisions. The objective of this discourse is to put forth hypotheses regarding the strategic use of technology in the promotion of sustainable fashion among the youth demographic in the United Kingdom.
Identify digital marketing techniques that could be leveraged to promote sustainable fashion products to the youth population in the UK.
- Identify trends in digital marketing strategies used by fashion brands aimed at their target consumer groups to promote sustainable fashion products.
- Identify research on attitudes and behavioral intentions among the youth population towards sustainable fashion products.
- Identify emerging trends in digital marketing techniques that could be employed to facilitate the marketing of sustainable fashion products targeted at the Youth Population in the UK.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction to Literature Review
The literature review aims to set research objectives by identifying a theoretical foundation that will allow one to comprehend the research subject under consideration (The University of Edinburgh, 2022). Thus, the primary objective of this chapter will be to analyze existing sustainable fashion marketing strategies via the application of technologies.
2.2. Definition of Sustainable Fashion
The acronym “sustainable fashion” is related to sustainability and ethical fashion and is a key component of the slow fashion movement that has evolved in recent decades (Jin & Jung, 2014). While businesses and customers disagree on what constitutes “sustainable,” Joergens (2006) defines sustainable fashion as apparel that incorporates one or more aspects of social or environmental sustainability.
2.3. Definition of Sustainable Marketing
Sustainable marketing may involve the marketing of environmentally sustainable or ethically conscious products or services that are beneficial for society and the environment as a whole. It may also refer to presenting company or brand values and sustainability commitments. Sustainable marketing, like sustainability, can imply a variety of things to various individuals. Sustainability has been a concern for a growing majority of companies, as reflected by their marketing strategies (Koeder, 2022).
Kerstin Koeder described that “even the most sophisticated advertising strategies may not succeed if the business strategy of a company does not include a genuine consideration of issues related to the environment and society” (Koeder, 2022).
2.4. Youth and Sustainable Fashion Consumption
2.4.1. Youth Environmental Activism in the Digital Age
Every year, the fashion industry generates 15 to 45 billion pieces of clothing waste, most of which is burned or disposed of in landfills. This widespread problem is primarily the result of overproduction in the fashion industry (By WGSN Insider, 2023). As a result, there has been a significant surge in environmental activism among the youth population (Tyson et al., 2021).
FFF (Fridays For Future) is a youth-led and youth-organised worldwide climate strike movement that began in August 2018, when 15-year-old Greta Thunberg initiated a climate-related school strike (UNICEF, n.d.). Given that teenagers are extremely technologically literate, it is clear that youth activists like Greta Thungburg have used digital channels like social media to carry out such initiatives. She utilized social media to organize an even larger global strike. As a result, people all around the world would recognize climate change as a defining global issue that must be treated effectively (María del Mar Molero Jurado, 2021).
According to Alex Goat, chief executive of youth culture consultancy Livity, one of the driving forces behind this shift is an increased awareness of the environment. “Wearing secondhand is a demonstrable statement of your intention and a rejection of one of the most polluting industries on the planet,” she says. “The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet.” “Many young people are searching for a way to differentiate themselves from their peers and express their individuality. This has historically been accomplished through the medium of fashion.
2.4.2. Marketing Sustainable Fashion and Its Impact on Youth Behavior and Preferences
The production methods that go into sustainable fashion are those that are attentive not only to environmental issues but also to associated ethical issues. To be able to make the most of the opportunities presented by the growing popularity of sustainable fashion, it is vital to have a thorough awareness of the marketing implications sustainable fashion has for the younger generation. (Smith & Johnson, 2020). Younger consumers frequently feel a sense of social responsibility and want to make fashion choices that are consistent with their core values, according to researchers Kim and Lee (Kim & Lee, 2019). According to a Mintel
report from 2023, a sizable portion of youth between the ages of 16 and 24 express a significant concern for sustainability as a determining factor in their fashion purchasing decisions, specifically 71%. However, it is important that a slightly lower percentage, especially 54%, of these young female online shoppers choose to make their purchases from the fast fashion brand Shein (Ceron, 2023).
2.4.3. Increase in popularity of Sustainable Clothing among youth
Many eco-anxious millennials and Gen Zers demand that brands show that they are interested in participating in shifting to proactive environmental strategies while also maintaining creativity and following trends (Ha, 2021). As we transition to an experience- and service-based economy, consumers tend to purchase material goods at unusual rates. Garment production in the fashion industry is predicted to expand by 63% by 2030, imposing considerable strain on resources and existing business strategies (WGSN, 2017). Brands large and small are currently implementing a variety of programs to complete the loop as part of their more extensive sustainability actions, including in-store take-back schemes and the expansion of recycled product collections.
Figure 1: Willingness to spend more on sustainability in the UK in 2022, by generation (Tighe, 2022)
Figure 1 shows that in 2022, according to research done by Statista, slightly over 80% of customers in the United Kingdom (UK) said they would be ready to pay at least 10% extra for products if they were considered sustainable. Nearly 90% of UK millennials were willing to pay more for sustainability (Tighe, 2022).
However, Mintel statistics show that consumers are becoming more cautious as a result of the present inflationary environment, accompanied by a rise in the cost of living. As a result of increased prices, 42% of Generation Z expects to cut back on luxury and non-essential items (Francesca Smith, 2023), meaning that many youth consumers are also considering other sustainable aspects such as thrifting.
When it comes to fashion and textiles, there is an increase in interest among youth in sustainable practices. One such sustainable fashion practice that is popular among youth is the reuse and recycling of used garments.
Both the pandemic and the crisis in the cost of living have been boons to the secondhand sales sector of the sustainable fashion market over the past few years, and according to Mintel, 33% of youth consumers in the UK have made a purchase of used clothing and 26% have sold previously owned items from the fashion industry (Ceron, 2023).
Moreover, according to WGSN Insider, “Gen Z and Millennial youth are looking at secondhand concepts to find uniqueness, and they hunt for vintage and rare items on social media, e-commerce, and re-commerce platforms” (WGSN Insider, 2021).
Figure 2 shows that Vinted, an app that encourages the resale of old items, will be the most downloaded fashion app in the UK in 2022. Vinted is an app that is aimed at youth consumers between the ages of 25 and 35 (Coppola, 2023).
Figure 2: Leading fashion and beauty apps in the United Kingdom (UK) 2022, by number of downloads (Coppola, 2023)
Cloth swapping, also known as thrifting, drove awareness during the pandemic in 2020, and then in 2021, it became one of the big fashion trends as it was introduced as a part of circular fashion and brought attention among the UK youth (Moore, 2021). A survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) found that ( North London Waste Authority, 2021);
- In 2020, one in every two Millennials (25–30) and Gen Z (16–24) purchased, traded, or borrowed more than they did in 2019, and one in every five Gen Z members is a member of a virtual swap club. ( North London Waste Authority, 2021)
- A third of Gen Z has been re-wearing clothing more frequently, and more than a quarter of all respondents (26%) plan to do so in the future. ( North London Waste Authority, 2021)
The influencer marketing platform Wearisoma discovered that there was a 47% increase in interactions for #clothesswap content across all social media platforms in 2020 compared to 2019 (North London Waste Authority, 2021).
Figure 3: Sustainability seeker Gender, Age and Income (Albella, Balchandani , Cornbleet , & Lee , 2022; Pinnock, 2021)
As a result, Figure 3 demonstrates that there has been a shift among UK customers since 2020, as the sustainable fashion business begins to gain traction among the UK’s young. Finally, six out of ten (59%) British citizens are willing to spend more for ecologically friendly apparel. (Smith, P., 2022).
2.5. The Intersection of Technology and Sustainable Fashion Marketing
Sustainable development and digital technology tend to complement each other. Companies can’t reduce their carbon footprint or manage trash without digital technologies. Without an in-depth knowledge of sustainability, computer resources can be squandered.
Together, technological expertise and sustainable practices should be at the center of any business’s strategic thinking as a method to differentiate itself and gain long-term viability among consumers, regulators, and communities where enterprises operate (Fleming et al., 2018).
2.5.1. Social Media
126.96.36.199. Social Media as a Marketing Tool
Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest are just some of the social media platforms that have evolved into highly effective marketing tools for sustainable fashion brands. These platforms make it possible for brands to share content that is aesthetically pleasing, connect with their target audience, and effectively deliver messages about sustainable practices (Ruiz, 2023).
Consumer awareness could be considered an essential factor that can influence demand for sustainable fashion. It could be observed that youth demographics actively utilise social media to search for various topics (Smith & Cooper-Martin, 2019). 54% of people believe that social media influencers are at least partially to blame for the rise in the use of mass-produced clothing, according to a survey by The Round Up Organization (Ruiz, 2023). The percentage increases to 73% for individuals between the ages of 18 and 24. Also, when it comes to making decisions about their personal style, 26% of people say they look to their family and friends for inspiration, while 17% say they rely on Instagram. This percentage has more than doubled in the past five years (Ruiz, 2023).
Bhardwaj & Fairhurst explain that consumers who are exposed to content on social media related to sustainable fashion are more likely to understand the benefits of adopting sustainable practices in the fashion industry, such as manufacturing with environmentally friendly materials, adopting fair labour and wage practices, maintaining transparent supply chain information, etc. (Bhardwaj & Fairhurst, 2010).
Social media could also be used as an effective mechanism to influence consumer behaviour. Social media engagement positively influences a consumer’s intention to purchase sustainable fashion products (Liu and Choi, 2018). Consumers are more likely to make environmentally responsible purchases when they are exposed to content about sustainable fashion (Baumann, 2010). Moreover, social media channels could act as a direct sales channel for sustainable fashion companies, making it simple for customers to purchase their sustainable products (Chung & Yun, 2019).
Therefore, social Media could be used as an effective digital technology to promote sustainable fashion among youth.
188.8.131.52. Influencer Marketing
The use of social media influencer marketing has become an increasingly important promotional tactic for sustainable fashion. Social media influencers, particularly those whose values are aligned with those of sustainability, have the ability to reach a large audience and promote sustainable fashion products, which enhances the frequency at which these products are adopted (Shepherd, 2023).
The concept of influencer marketing has emerged as an essential component of the rapidly changing environment of digital marketing in the United Kingdom (Shepherd, 2023). The use of influencers in marketing has become increasingly common in recent years (Shepherd, 2023). The industry had a total revenue of $1.7 billion in 2016, but it is expected to have reached $9.7 billion by the year 2020. It reached $13.8 billion in 2021, then $16.4 billion in 2022, and it is anticipated that it will reach $21.1 billion in 2023 (Shepherd, 2023).
An article that was published in the newspaper The Guardian was titled “How Secondhand Became the Main Attraction in UK Fashion” with the subheading “Cheap, Cool, and Kind to Nature.” on how Generation Z, social media influencers, and celebrity stylists like Harry Lambert are altering the way that people shop for clothing (Cochrane, 2023).
The Absolut Swap Shop opened in London with rooms full of preloved and “deadstock” clothing, which refers to clothing that was never sold in the first place. Nyome Nicholas-Williams, a body positivity advocate; Venetia La Manna, a sustainability influencer; and Harry Lambert, a celebrity stylist who works with Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, chose the clothing (Cochrane, 2023). Attendees of the event, which was completely booked, were given the opportunity to trade anything from their wardrobe for pre-owned garments.
2.5.2. Virtual Try-On Technologies
Fashion industry virtualization might be an opportunity to minimize waste and improve sustainable fashion. Many metaverse users may recognize it as a gaming platform, but it has also begun to establish itself as a portal to new digital experiences since it may be used as an advertising channel, a virtual shopping destination, or a digital institution (McKinsey, 2022). “Consumer behavior has largely shifted towards adopting digital personas, yet many brands have yet to provide a solution,” says AnamXR founder and CEO Irene-Marie Seelig. “This opens up a whole new business model for brands that can supply digital assets like clothing.” 2022 (Douglas)
According to the vice president and general manager of Nike Virtual Studios, the fast fashion company, Nike adopts a distinctive approach. In an interview with BOF, Ron Faris stated that Nike’s approach to virtual products is to deliver usefulness and rewards to the consumer without having any speculative assets (Marc Bain, 2023). Despite having signed up over 330,000 members to its own Web3 platform, Nike is launching its first large selection of digital items under its own brand, Swoosh (Marc Bain, 2023).
184.108.40.206. Big Data Analytics
Big data and analytics have become vital when it comes to tracking markets, identifying possibilities and threats, and making intelligent and conscious business decisions. Developing methods to analyse the life cycles of materials and products, as well as monitoring the company’s environmental footprints, constitute essential steps toward a world with a circular economy.
220.127.116.11. AI-Based Advertising
Aiming to employ marketing techniques like Web3, crypto, and NFT, corporations like Nike have upped their game using AI content. One of the most recent is the Balenciaga and Harry Potter mashup, this specific type of AI content is ideal for the brand, in concept. It gets it in front of millions of consumers and demonstrates how it has surpassed the narrow confines of fashion into mainstream popular culture. Other companies could even be driven to try to develop their own AI stunts. However, it is a question of whether parodies and mashups packed with brand representations would be advantageous or detrimental as AI content creation becomes more accessible.
2.6. Strategies that are being used to Market Sustainable Fashion
Young people are influenced to view sustainable fashion as a way to contribute positively to society and the environment through marketing campaigns that emphasise transparency in the supply chain, the use of eco-friendly materials, and fair labour practices (Lee & Davis, 2017). Sustainable fashion marketing is critical for establishing the expected value of such products among young people. According to researchers Garcia and Martinez, there is a tendency among young consumers to establish a connection between sustainable fashion and attributes such as quality, uniqueness, and a sense of authenticity (Garcia & Martinez, 2021). As a result of these connections, consumers’ tastes are shifting in favour of sustainable brands, eco-friendly products, and minimalistic designs. The durability of sustainable fashion is frequently emphasised in marketing strategies, with a focus on its longevity in comparison to fast fashion alternatives (Choi & Park, 2022).
2.6.1. Association of Brand Ethos and Identity with Sustainability
18.104.22.168. Stella McCartney
When compared to most businesses in the fashion sector, sustainable marketing has been taken to a whole new level as a brand’s identity is so firmly linked to sustainability, and it is appreciated given that it places sustainability at the heart of the identity of a business.
Stella McCartney is widely recognized for being one of the finest fashion brands that is cradle-to-cradle certified, ensuring that their products benefit both people and the environment (MCCARTNEY, 2019). Stella McCartney’s ‘Change Creators’ campaign, released in collaboration with Adidas in 2019, communicates the idea that cooperation can
result in positive change in the future. The campaign established a gym clothing line made entirely of post-industrial and post-consumer trash, such as plastic bottles, allowing for the highest-impact performance with minimal impact on the environment (MCCARTNEY, 2019).
Global social media campaigns have the potential to impact consumer behavior and inspire young people and society as a whole to be changemakers (Medri, 2021). Patagonia is one such company that actively promotes its ecologically friendly items. The majority of Patagonia’s advertising campaigns promote sustainable living while also boosting customer awareness of environmental issues. While Black Friday is regarded to be one of the most wasteful days of the year, Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” commercial during their Black Friday Sale was a notable campaign that urged people to shop carefully while considering their choices (Thangavelu and Catalano). The firm also offers a charity effort called “Worn Wear” that encourages customers to collect credits for their used or worn-out Patagonia apparel, which is then utilised in the process of upcycling, mending, and reusing the clothes for sale. Digital technologies such as eco designs, repurposing, reusing, upcycling, and the use of 3D printing are some examples and they allow us to develop clothing that is in tune with nature, reducing waste and easing the strain on forest, land, and water resources (Medri, 2021).
Finisterre, a surf, beach, and adventure clothes brand, doesn’t simply have the occasional eco-friendly campaign as part of Finisterre’s overall marketing plan; Finisterre’s environmental consciousness pervades everything they do and sell. It is an integral component of Finisterre’s brand identity, as seen by the amount of space given to sustainability on its website. Finisterre has looked at every area of what they do, from product design and production to the ‘leave no trace’ packaging their products are sent in, to decrease the environmental effect.
The brand also provides repair services to assist in extending the life of their items and, in some circumstances, giving the products a second life, to keep them out of landfills. Finisterre’s marketing activities are always anchored by their environmentally conscious beliefs. From regular material such as podcasts containing eco-projects and interviews that would interest their audience to sharing environmental news on their social media platforms,
ensuring that sustainability themes are prominently displayed across all owned channels. Finisterre’s eco-credentials are an important part of who they are, and every consumer is aware of it (Rudd, 2022).
In comparison to most brands, Finisterre, Patagonia, and Stella McCartney take sustainable marketing to a whole new level as it’s simply at the heart of what they do and what they value, so it comes across clearly in all of their marketing activity and doesn’t feel like a token effort or marketing spin to make them look good.
2.6.2. Sustainability-Focused Marketing Campaigns From Traditionally Unsustainable Fashion Brands
Companies from various industries have pledged to minimise their carbon footprints in order to promote brand sustainability for the sake of the earth. To accomplish so, brands must convey their message to a large audience in a memorable manner.
22.214.171.124. “Save Our Species” Campaign
Lacoste, the global apparel brand, made a quick choice to support species conservation efforts throughout the world. The brand created limited-edition polo shirts with ten endangered species, and matched the number of shirts to the number of individuals remaining in the wild as part of a three-year cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Save Our Species program. Lacoste additionally donated the earnings to the preservation of each of the endangered wildlife species (Polley, 2022).
This creative form of sustainable marketing is known as cause marketing, which is increasingly an important aspect of company strategy. Realizing how challenging it may be to avoid customer scrutiny, the fact that the renowned brand logo was erased from its emblem totally (even if only momentarily) demonstrated Lacoste’s commitment to raising awareness (Nadar, 2022).
126.96.36.199. “Protecting people = Protecting planet” Campaign
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Outland Denim made an enterprising marketing approach. The firm bypassed typical investment avenues in favor of the less frequented path of equity crowdfunding, allowing Outland Denim’s community to quickly become shareholders. The investment resulted in an actual generational transformation in the lives of garment workers (Traill, n.d.). This way places power directly in the hands of the people, which is why it is so powerful.
188.8.131.52. “Dear Plastic, It’s Over” Campaign
Toad&Co is all about appreciating the little things in life, embracing the ridiculous, and letting go every now and again – just what most people require. The company’s inventiveness emerges via its website, Instagram content, the pre-rebrand name ‘Horny Toad,’ and its clever marketing strategies (Wiesendanger, 2021).
Their ‘breakup’ letter has to be the most successful of all sustainable fashion marketing initiatives. Though the plastic crisis is not amusing, Toad&Co developed a humorous story that challenges all of plastic’s wrongdoings. “It’s not us, it’s you,” says the piece. The letter further motivates the sector to move towards more sustainable packaging (Wiesendanger, 2021).
184.108.40.206. Loewe Campaign
Loewe, in April 2023, the Spanish luxury brand established its first store specializing in repairing and preserving leather products in Osaka, Japan. Loewe’s ReCraft shop, known for its bags and small leather products, will give consumers lifelong repair and maintenance services to encourage its admirers to extend the lifespan of their things (WGSN, 2023).
220.127.116.11. Gumtree Campaign
Gumtree, the community-driven e-commerce site started a campaign in London called Consumption Rebellion, a play on the environmental movement Extinction Rebellion. Gumtree focuses on peer-to-peer resale, providing customers with a sustainable alternative to purchasing homeware, clothes, and other things from big merchants, which have significant environmental consequences. It was discovered that if every British customer purchased used homeware products for three months, it would save 10.9 billion kgs of carbon. During Earth Day, Gumtree used its unique selling proposition (USP) to advertise its services (WGSN, 2023).
Instead of offering their sustainable goods on the run-up to Earth Day, brands might emphasize their environmental effect while also educating customers.
2.7. Conclusion to Literature Review
The purpose of this review was to analyze the existing research into sustainable fashion marketing strategies with the use of technology. It is clear from the research reviewed that there are many sustainable and unsustainable brands that use technology-based marketing strategies. Along with this, it is also clear that there is an increase in popularity amongst the youth in the sustainable fashion industry.
More research is required to gain a better understanding, as there is a lack of study into how to effectively target the youth population in the UK to promote ecologically friendly fashion goods using emerging trends in technology such as virtual worlds, AI, NFT, and so on. Moreover, there may be an absence of study regarding the efficiency of digital advertising campaigns employed by fashion manufacturers when promoting sustainable fashion to youth in the UK.
Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1. Introduction to Methodology
According to Reva Berman Brown, “Methodology is the philosophical framework within which the research is conducted or the foundation upon which the research is based” (Brown, 2011). The specific methods that are used to find, choose, process, and analyze material on a subject are known as research methodologies. The methodology component of a research paper provides people reading it with an opportunity to evaluate the overall validity and reliability of the study. The methods section addresses two primary inquiries: What methods were employed to collect or generate the data? What methods were employed to conduct the examination? (University of the Witwatersrand, 2023)
3.2. Research Philosophy
The term “research philosophy” refers to the fundamental precepts and hypotheses that constitute the basis of the research procedure and direct researchers’ selection of methodologies and interpretation of findings (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). It has a basic impact on the study technique and design, impacting choices regarding data collection, analysis, and general strategy (Creswell & Creswell, 2017).
The field of research in philosophy includes various paradigms, namely positivism, interpretivism, pragmatism, critical theory, realism, and postmodernism. Each of these philosophical frameworks possesses distinct merits and limitations, and the determination of which one is superior is contingent upon a multitude of factors, encompassing the research inquiry, objectives, and characteristics of the study (Rehman, 2018).
Positivism is frequently linked to quantitative research and focuses on objectivity and the search for universal laws (Bryman, 2016). The primary objective is to ascertain causal connections by means of theoretical observation and measurement. The emphasis on objectivity within positivism may lead to an oversimplification of intricate social phenomena and a disregard for significant contextual factors (Denzin & Lincoln, 2018). Advocates argue that the use of this particular methodology may not be appropriate for conducting research that pertains to subjective experiences or intricate social phenomena.
Interpretivism is a theoretical framework that is founded on the premise that social phenomena are contingent upon their specific contexts. It places significant emphasis on comprehending the subjective experiences and the meanings that individuals attribute to their
actions (Denzin & Lincoln, 2018). Qualitative methods are often used in this context. Although it offers a comprehensive understanding of human experiences, it has been subject to critique due to its inherent subjectivity and the possibility of researcher bias (Bryman, 2016).
Pragmatism places an extensive value on practicality and advocates for the use of research methods that are most appropriate for addressing specific research inquiries (Mackenzie & Knipe, 2006). The priority lies in the effectiveness of the methods rather than the philosophical stance. The advantage of pragmatism lies in its inherent adaptability, although it has been subject to disagreement for its perceived deficiency in possessing a robust philosophical underpinning (Guba & Lincoln, 1994).
The primary objective of critical theory is to reveal power dynamics, disparities, and instances of social injustice by employing a methodological approach that seeks to bring about transformative change (Lather, 1986). It frequently makes use of qualitative techniques while attempting to change society. However, it has been prone to controversy due to its potential for bias and limited practical applicability (Bryman, 2016). Those who disagree argue that this approach may fail to consider alternative perspectives and may not consistently yield tangible resolutions.
According to Sayer (1984), realism asserts the existence of a concrete reality that is not dependent on human perceptions. The primary objective of this study is to elucidate the underlying truth by means of empirical inquiry, employing a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The hypothesis of objective reality in realism may face attack for its neglect of the significance of perception and interpretation in comprehending the social world (Guba & Lincoln, 1994).
Postmodernism presents an analysis of the notion of a singular, universally valid truth and emphasises the diverse range of perspectives and voices that contribute to the construction of knowledge (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). The analysis is focused on the significance of language and discourse. The rejection of universal truths by postmodernism has been subject to controversy due to its potential to result in relativism and a dearth of epistemic certainty (Bryman, 2016).
This study aims to use quantitative methods such as descriptive statistical analysis as the primary data analysis method for the data collected through a Survey which is used as the primary data collection method. In conjunction, this study aims to utilise qualitative methods to study past literature conducted in the social science domain. Given the utilisation of both quantitative methods and qualitative methods, it is best to use pragmatist research
philosophy given it is a highly adaptable philosophical stance that accommodates the study of both quantitative and qualitative methods.
The findings of this study demonstrated that pragmatism is the most suitable research philosophy for conducting quantitative research.
3.3. Research Methods
In this study, quantitative methods were used as the primary data collection strategy. A structured survey was created and sent to a broad sample of young people from around the UK. This quantitative technique allowed for the systematic collection of numerical data, allowing for the measurement of sustainable fashion attitudes, actions, and preferences. The survey included closed-ended questions with predetermined choices and Likert-scale ratings to measure respondents’ replies.
There are three common methodologies for conducting research: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods (University of Newcastle, 2023).
The methodology of quantitative research is unique in that it gathers and analyses numerical data to answer research questions. The association of this concept is frequently observed within positivist or post-positivist paradigms, which prioritise objectivity and the pursuit of empirical evidence (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). This commonly employs structured surveys, experiments, and statistical methodologies to collect and analyse data. A notable characteristic of quantitative research lies in its capacity to produce findings that are both precise and generalizable. This methodology is highly suitable for research inquiries that necessitate the quantification, comparison, and statistical examination of variables.
In contrast, qualitative research is centered around the examination and comprehension of intricate social phenomena by means of gathering and analysing non-numerical data, such as text, images, or observations (Denzin & Lincoln, 2018). The association is frequently made with interpretivist or constructivist paradigms, which prioritise the subjective nature of human experiences. The study also utilises a range of data collection techniques, such as in-depth interviews, participant observation, content analysis, and focus groups. The primary objective of researchers is to elucidate the significance, understanding, and circumstances that individuals or collectives attribute to their encounters (Denzin & Lincoln, 2018). The process of analysis in qualitative research entails the systematic organisation and
classification of data through coding, with the aim of identifying recurring themes, patterns, and narratives.
Finally, Mixed methods research is a research approach that integrates components of both quantitative and qualitative research methods within a singular study or research endeavor. The utilisation of a versatile and progressively preferred methodology in the realm of social sciences has gained traction. This approach enables researchers to acquire a more comprehensive and nuanced comprehension of intricate research inquiries by employing a triangulation of both quantitative and qualitative data and methodologies (Creswell & Creswell, 2017).
There are notable distinctions between quantitative and qualitative research in terms of the data collected, research questions posed, and analytical methodologies employed. Quantitative research aims to establish statistical relationships and findings that can be applied to a broader population, while qualitative research is focused on comprehending the intricate nature of human experiences and the social environment in which they take place (Creswell & Creswell, 2017; Denzin & Lincoln, 2018).
It is important to acknowledge that these three methodologies are not inherently contradictory. Researchers frequently employ mixed methods, which involve the integration of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, in order to attain a more comprehensive comprehension of a given research issue (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). This methodology enables researchers to employ triangulation techniques, thereby validating their findings and facilitating a comprehensive and nuanced investigation of the subject matter.
3.4. Primary Data Collection
The main data for this study will primarily be collected through the use of independently administered quantitative research methods. The use of quantitative primary data in research pertaining to the strategic use of technology in marketing sustainable fashion among youth in the United Kingdom presents numerous noteworthy benefits. Quantitative data, which is defined by its numerical nature, offers the researcher a methodical and organised means of collecting, analysing, and interpreting data, rendering it highly advantageous within the scope of this research endeavor.
Online survey questionnaires provide the opportunity to access a wider and more varied demographic in comparison to conventional research methodologies. The absence of geographical boundaries enables the collection of data from individuals situated in any location with access to the web (Couper et al., 2008). In addition to the automatic recording of all responses, promptly process and analyse the data, thereby optimizing time efficiency (Krosnick & Presser, 2010).
The downside of using questionnaires as a method of data collection is that they often have a structured format and rely on closed-ended questions, which can restrict the extent of information that can be gathered. In addition to the absence of contextual information that can be obtained through face-to-face interviews or direct observations (Bryman, 2016). The interpretation of questions by respondents can vary based on their individual experiences and backgrounds, resulting in data that may lack comprehensive understanding and contextual information (Bryman, 2016).
Nevertheless, the researcher considered using online survey questionnaires as they provide a multitude of advantages for this study, including cost-effectiveness, broader geographical coverage, expedited data collection, improved data integrity, participant confidentiality, convenience, streamlined data administration, and ecological sustainability (Wright, 2005).
Early on, it should be noted that online surveys exhibit a high level of accessibility to the intended target demographic. The present generation of young individuals in the United Kingdom exhibits a high level of digital connectivity and proficiency in technology, benefiting from extensive internet usage and the availability of digital devices. According to Smith, online surveys are regarded as a convenient and familiar method for data collection by individuals. The use of devices such as smartphones, tablets, or computers for participation purposes facilitates the inclusion of a diverse and comprehensive sample from the youth population, consequently enhancing the external validity of the research (Jones & Williams, 2020).
The use of technology in marketing sustainable fashion involves an extensive number of factors, such as the adoption of technology, consumer preferences for sustainable fashion, perceptions of brands, and purchasing habits (Brown & Green, 2018).
The empirical evidence presented by Clark and Davis can provide valuable insights for making strategic decisions regarding the effective marketing of sustainable fashion to the youth (Clark & Davis, 2020). The use of statistical analysis empowers researchers to derive significant conclusions and gain valuable insights from the data, thereby augmenting the research’s strength and credibility.
A survey is a research methodology that entails the methodical gathering of data from a specific cohort of individuals or entities, commonly referred to as respondents, through the utilisation of standardised inquiries and structured techniques for data collection (Babbie & Benaquisto, 2015). Research studies can be carried out through different modes, such as face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, mailed questionnaires, online surveys, or a combination of these approaches, contingent upon the research objectives and available resources (Dillman et al., 2014).
The survey method was employed in order to achieve the objectives and address the research questions established for this study. Survey participants are offered a certain degree of privacy, which fosters an environment conducive to providing sincere and truthful answers, even when addressing sensitive subjects like sustainable fashion practices and preferences (Jones et al., 2022). The use of anonymity serves to alleviate the potential influence of social desirability bias, thereby leading to the acquisition of data that is more reliable and accurate (Brown & Green, 2018).
In an overview, the use of online surveys as the principal means of gathering data in a study examining the strategic implementation of technology in promoting sustainable fashion among young individuals in the United Kingdom is justified due to their ease of access, adaptability, ability to collect quantitative data, and potential for obtaining impartial responses. Surveys offer the researcher an effective method for acquiring comprehensive and organised perspectives from a varied and digitally interconnected population.
3.4.2. Questionnaire Design
The design of the questionnaire is a crucial part of the research approach since it has a direct impact on the accuracy and credibility of the data that is gathered. It is crucial to have a questionnaire that is well-constructed in order to gather responses from study participants that are accurate and useful.
Clarity and ease of understanding in the wording of the questions is also an essential component of effective questionnaire design. Dillman, Smyth, and Christian (2014) assert that in order for responders to properly understand the questions being asked, they need to be concise and simple. When a question is posed in a way that is unclear or difficult to understand, this can result in responses that are contradictory to one another. For this reason, researchers should communicate with participants using straightforward language and avoid jargon and technical phrases that may be foreign to them.
In addition to this, the researchers need to take into consideration the sequence of the questions as well as the overall layout of the questionnaire. Bradburn, Sudman, and Wansink (2004) highlight the significance of beginning a survey with questions that are simple and less sensitive in order to ease respondents into the process and then progressively advancing to questions that are more difficult or personal. This aids in establishing rapport with the participants and lowers the chance of response bias being caused by discomfort or exhaustion.
Another essential aspect to take into account is the length of the questionnaire. Longer questionnaires might cause respondents to become fatigued, which may result in responses that are either incomplete or thoughtless. The goal of the researchers should be to strike a balance between collecting sufficient data and showing consideration for the respondents’ time. According to Krosnick and Presser (2010), lengthy questionnaires can be broken into portions with clear instructions, which enables participants to evaluate their progress and make well-informed judgments regarding whether or not to proceed with the study.
The questionnaire was designed to gather data from participants on their preferences and choices when purchasing sustainable fashion products. The target audience for this survey was youth demographic in UK aged 18 – 29. The questions chosen for the survey was aimed at gathering data related to purchase of sustainable and conventional fashion products and to gather data regarding the effectiveness of different advertising media and sales channels that influence in making a decision to purchase sustainable fashion products. The data was collected over a period of two months. The questionnaire was conducted online and email reminders were sent to participants who started the survey but did not complete it.
Response options and formats are also crucial components of questionnaire design. In order to make data analysis and comparison easier, multiple-choice questions with predetermined response categories are frequently used (Sudman, Bradburn, & Schwarz, 1996). Moreover, it is crucial to provide a “other” or “not applicable” option to allow for a range of responses and to avoid participant displeasure if their response is not among the predetermined possibility’ Likert scale could be successfully used to ask the participants to rate their agreement or disagreement with a particular statement on the survey which helps measure attitudes and opinions of participants (Likert, 1932).
Before distributing the survey to the intended audience, researchers must conduct a pilot test to detect and address any potential problems (Dillman et al., 2014). It is possible to evaluate participant comprehension, answer patterns, and any issues with question phrasing or formatting by conducting cognitive interviews with a small number of participants.
The sample size of the survey was 100 participants. The youth population in UK is a very large and a diverse. It is important to consider a sample size that reasonably represent the target population (Cochran,1977) Furthermore, it is important to consider the practical limitation when selecting sampling size (Kothari, 2004). Given the limited time period to collect data, a sampling size of 100 is manageable within 2 months.
3.5. Secondary Data
A number of sources can be used to acquire secondary data. The sources contained in this category consist of academic journals, books, government agencies, non-profit organisations, private companies, and online databases (Bryman, 2016).
The accessibility and convenience of secondary data are considered to be two of its main advantages (Saunders et al., 2018). Academics have the ability to access a substantial quantity of pre-existing information without engaging in primary data collection. This approach has the potential to yield time and resource savings, rendering it an appealing choice for specific research endeavours.
Although secondary data presents numerous advantages, it is not devoid of limitations. When conducting research, it is essential for researchers to carefully evaluate the reliability and validity of the data source, as well as the potential for bias or selective reporting. Additionally, researchers should also assess the relevance of the data to their specific research question (Saunders et al., 2018).
Data mining is a process that uses software and algorithms to extract valuable information from extensive datasets, including but not limited to social media data, web content, and customer reviews (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook offer Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that enable researchers to gather and examine user-generated content as secondary data.
When these instruments align with their research objectives, researchers frequently rely on previously administered surveys and questionnaires (Saunders et al., 2018). If an empirical investigation has been undertaken to examine the perspectives of young individuals in the United Kingdom regarding sustainable fashion and technology, it is plausible to seek permission to use the dataset for the purpose of conducting an analysis.
The effective use of secondary data also entails consideration of ethical factors. When collecting data collected by other individuals, it is imperative that researchers obtain the proper permissions and adhere to ethical guidelines (Creswell & Creswell, 2017).
To summarise, secondary data is a valuable research resource that provides researchers with accessibility, historical insights, and cost-effectiveness. The process of gathering secondary data entails employing a methodical approach that encompasses conducting literature reviews, accessing government sources, examining organisational records, making use of
online databases, engaging in data mining, conducting archival research, and occasionally making use of existing surveys.
Nevertheless, it is imperative for researchers to engage in a rigorous assessment of the calibre and pertinence of secondary data sources in order to ascertain their alignment with research objectives and enhance the validity of their findings.
3.6. Data Analysis Methods
Quantitative data analysis refers to the examination and interpretation of data presented in numerical format, encompassing various forms such as counts, measurements, or ratings. The data presented possesses the potential for analysis through the application of statistical methods, rendering it appropriate for hypothesis testing and the derivation of conclusions that can be extrapolated to a broader context (Hair et al., 2018).
The ability to reproduce the results of this phenomenon and its inherent objectivity serve as indicators (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). The process of quantitative data analysis represents a diverse array of statistical techniques, such as descriptive statistics (e.g., mean, median, standard deviation), inferential statistics (e.g., t-tests, ANOVA, regression analysis), and correlation analysis (Field, 2018). Researchers frequently use quantitative data analysis to examine hypotheses or research questions. Andy Field, author of Discovering Statistics in IBM SPSS Statistics, claims that statistical tests are used to ascertain the statistical significance of observed differences or connections within the data.
The technique for performing quantitative data analysis can be separated into multiple stages, including Data Cleaning and Preparation, Descriptive Statistics, Data Visualisation, Hypothesis Testing and Inferential Statistics, Interpreting Results, and Reporting Findings (Field, 2018). The primary rationale for implementing quantitative data analysis in a study about the strategic use of technology in promoting sustainable fashion among young individuals in the United Kingdom is rooted in its capacity to offer organised, empirical, and statistically substantiated findings. This methodology enables scholars to methodically analyse and derive significant insights from quantitative data, thereby enhancing the comprehensiveness of their knowledge on the subject matter (Field, 2018).
According to Andy Field, quantitative data analysis is well-suited for the purpose of measuring and quantifying relationships and trends (Field, 2018). Within the realm of sustainable fashion marketing, researchers are able to evaluate the potency and significance of connections between various factors (Field, 2018). For instance, the researcher can
examine the influence of technology usage on the adoption of sustainable fashion among young individuals.
Hypothesis testing is a valuable tool in research, as it enables researchers to assess the statistical significance of observed differences or relationships (Field, 2018). The application of statistical rigor is of utmost importance when examining the efficacy of marketing strategies and the impact of technology.
The study of the strategic use of technology frequently requires the gathering of data from a broad and diverse population, a task that is effectively accomplished through the implementation of quantitative surveys (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). By adopting this methodology, it is ensured that the conclusions derived from the study can be applied to a wider demographic of young individuals in the United Kingdom.
The use of quantitative data analysis facilitates the attainment of objectivity. The implementation of standardised measures and statistical tests serves to mitigate the impact of researcher bias (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). The presence of objectivity in research findings serves to bolster their credibility.
Researchers can carry out comparative analyses using quantitative methods. For example, researchers can conduct a comparative analysis of the efficacy of various technology-driven marketing strategies or investigate disparities in the adoption of sustainable fashion among young individuals from diverse geographic locations and demographic backgrounds (Field, 2018).
The systematic approach employed in quantitative data analysis facilitates the generation of practical insights that can effectively guide strategic decision-making in the context of marketing sustainable fashion (Hair et al., 2018). Stakeholders have the ability to utilise empirical research findings in order to enhance and fine-tune their marketing strategies.
In the current age of data-centric decision-making, the use of quantitative data analysis is highly advantageous in furnishing the requisite numerical evidence for the purpose of effectively informing marketing strategies (Hair et al., 2018).
In simple terms, the ability of quantitative data analysis to provide systematic, objective, and statistically valid points of view is what primarily justifies its use in examining the strategic use of technology in promoting sustainable fashion among youth in the United Kingdom. The adoption of this methodology is of utmost importance in the evaluation of connections, determination of statistical significance, execution of extensive surveys, and dissemination of practical findings that can contribute to the development of sustainable fashion marketing strategies.
Ethics plays an essential part in the development and implementation of online questionnaires. In the context of online surveys, ethical considerations involve a variety of elements, such as informed permission, privacy, data security, and the general integrity of the research process.
The collection of a participant’s informed permission is a fundamental component of ethical research. Researchers have a responsibility to make sure that participants are aware of the objectives of the questionnaire, the ways in which their responses will be used, and their rights to withdraw from the study at any time without incurring any penalties. In order to show respect for the autonomy and agency of respondents, it is necessary to gain their explicit agreement before collecting any data (Hudson, 2016). Potential participants should be educated about the purpose of the survey, which might include understanding their attitudes, behaviours, and knowledge connected to sustainable fashion practices among youth in the UK. In addition, participants should be given the opportunity to provide feedback on the survey. Establishing trust and fostering ethical research procedures are both facilitated by transparency in the permission process.
In addition, it is important to protect the participants’ right to privacy and secrecy. Researchers have a responsibility to take precautions to protect and anonymize the personal information of respondents. This is of very important in online surveys, since there is a greater potential for data to be compromised or misused (Birnbaum, 2004). Protecting the privacy of sensitive information not only acknowledges and honours the rights of individuals, but it also helps to lessen the likelihood of adverse consequences resulting from the publication of such information. For the purpose of upholding ethical standards, the questionnaire entitled “Promoting Sustainable Fashion amongst Youth in UK” needs to have comprehensive data protection measures, such as encryption and secure storage.
The protection of sensitive data is also an important ethical consideration. The researchers have a responsibility to take strict measures in order to prevent unauthorised access to or theft of the data that was acquired during the survey. This requires the utilisation of risk-free online platforms, adherence to data protection legislation (such as the GDPR in the UK), and the implementation of responsible data handling policies (Denscombe, 2014).
By adhering to these criteria, researchers are able to ensure that their work is not only methodologically sound, but also ethically responsible
3.8. Conclusion to Methodology
In this chapter on the methodology, the research philosophy of pragmatism has been emphasised as the guiding framework for the study. This is done to align with the diverse nature of the research aims, which have been the focus of this chapter. By taking this approach, we hope to close the gap between theory and practice and offer a more holistic understanding of the subject under investigation. The study embraces the flexibility to use both quantitative and qualitative approaches by adopting pragmatism. This helps to ensure that a comprehensive investigation of the research problem is carried out as a result of the study.
Questionnaires are going to be handed out to participants in this study as the major form of data collection that will be used. Questionnaires, which are well-known for their effectiveness and consistency, provide a methodical approach to the collection of structured data from a wide variety of respondents. The design of the questionnaire was rigorously constructed to closely coincide with the research objectives. This ensures that the questions are structured to address the study’s goals, which were the primary motivation for conducting the research in the first place. Clarity and objectivity in the wording of the questions were absolutely necessary to eliminate any possible bias in the responses from respondents and make the survey instrument as easy to use as possible.
Following the end of the phase devoted to the collecting of data, the phase devoted to the analysis of the data will rely on the utilisation of Microsoft Excel, a data analysis tool that is both flexible and widely used. Processing quantitative data and making sense of it requires a tool like Excel, which offers a wide variety of functions and features that are excellent for the job. It is able to, among other things, organise, summarise, and graphically portray data, which makes it easier to spot patterns, trends, and important insights.
The study’s use of questionnaires as the primary data collection instrument, pragmatism as the overarching research philosophy, and Excel as the designated data analysis tool all highlight the study’s commitment to conducting research that goes beyond theoretical boundaries and provides practical applicability. The practical objectives of the study strive to offer insights and recommendations that may be quickly adopted by professionals and decision-makers within the area. The focus that pragmatism places on finding solutions to problems is consistent with these practical objectives.
The next steps of the investigation will involve administering the questionnaire to a representative cross-section of the participants who were chosen after careful consideration. Following that, the data will be collected in an orderly fashion and arranged in preparation for analysis. Excel will make it easier to do a variety of analytical procedures, such as descriptive statistics, regression analysis, and the generation of data visualizations. These methods of analysis will make it possible to investigate the relationships between variables, put hypotheses to the test, and derive conclusions that are both meaningful and supported by evidence.
In conclusion, the research approach that was taken in this investigation was thoughtfully developed in order to adequately answer the objectives and questions raised by the study. The theoretical foundation of pragmatism directs the practical approach to examining the research problem, and the use of questionnaires as the reliable method of data collecting serves as the guiding light for this examination. The subsequent data analysis in Excel is going to give useful insights, which will finally lead to a deeper knowledge of the topic that the research was looking at. By combining these different approaches to research, the study aims to lay a solid groundwork for the findings and discussions that will be given in the following chapters.
Chapter 4: Research Findings and Analysis 4.1. Introduction
The findings of the study that were collected from the questionnaire will be presented, discussed, and analysed in this chapter. Moreover, the findings will be presented in the form of emergent themes, which will subsequently be evaluated in light of the previously conducted literature review.
4.2. Research Findings, Analysis, and Discussion
4.2.1. Role of Social Media Influencers in Promoting Sustainable Fashion amongst Youth in UK
52% of the participants mentioned “Social Media Influencers endorsing sustainable fashion” to be a factor that drives them to make informed decisions about sustainable fashion products.
Raising awareness is a critical component of influencers’ effect on sustainable fashion. Influencers use their platforms to inform their followers of the ethical and environmental problems that the fashion business faces. They produce content that draws attention to the negative effects of fast fashion, including excessive waste and worker abuse (Fletcher, 2016). Influencers inspire their followers to think about the effects of their fashion choices by presenting this information in relatable and approachable ways.
Furthermore, influencers act as role models for sustainable fashion. They demonstrate their own dedication to making ethical and environmentally friendly decisions when they highlight them utilising sustainable fashion products in their social media content (Cline, 2012). Influencers that advocate sustainable fashion show that it is fashionable and attainable by incorporating it into their everyday life.
Collaborations between fashion influencers and sustainable fashion firms are becoming increasingly noticeable and are proving to be quite fruitful. Through sponsored articles or partnerships, influencers can introduce their audiences to companies that uphold ethical and environmental standards. According to Berthoud (2018), these collaborations raise the
exposure of sustainable businesses, which may ultimately result in a larger adoption rate among customers. In addition, influencers frequently offer first-hand reviews and testimonials, which contribute to the increased credibility of the respective brands.
4.2.2 Social Media as a platform to spread awareness on sustainable fashion products amongst peers
More than 50% of the participants responded that they are likely to use social media to recommend sustainable fashion products amongst their friends and family.
The use of social media as a dynamic channel for the distribution of information regarding sustainable fashion goods is becoming increasingly common. Individuals and companies can display sustainable apparel, accessories, and other sustainable products through posts that are pleasing to the eye and include captions that are informative. According to Thakur and Luthra (2019), the use of visual information such as photographs and videos is particularly helpful in communicating both the aesthetics and the benefits of sustainable fashion.
In addition, channels for social media make it easier to rapidly disseminate information regarding sustainable fashion, including both trends and insights. Users can stay up to date on the most recent advances and ideas in the area by following hashtags such as #SustainableFashion or #EthicalStyle (Bain & Company, 2019). Peers are able to acquire knowledge about new sustainable fashion goods, companies, and practices in a brisk and painless manner because of the availability of information in real time.
4.2.3. Impact of Apps and Websites a Sales Channel in promoting sustainable fashion amongst Youth in UK
56.4 % of the survey participants mentioned that they found apps and websites that facilitate exchange/ resale of used fashion items to be useful when making informed decisions about sustainable fashion products.
The concept of a circular economy, which is central to the concept of sustainability, can be strengthened through activities such as the resale and exchange of previously used pieces of clothing. Products are made, used, and then thrown away in an economy that operates
linearly, which results in waste and the depletion of resources. In contrast, the objective of a circular economy is to extend the amount of time that products and materials are utilized for as long as is practicable by the implementation of practices such as recycling, refurbishment, and resale (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015). This notion of circularity is aligned with apps and websites that enable the resale of fashion goods. These apps and websites foster a culture of reuse and reduce the demand for materials that are not yet used. When customers buy items on the secondhand market, they are actively participating in practices that are considered circular and are good for the environment (Korosec, 2020).
In addition, applications and websites that promote the resale of worn fashion products provide customers the ability to make decisions that are better for the environment. According to Bhardwaj et al.’s research from 2020, consumers are becoming increasingly worried about the ethical and environmental consequences of their clothes choices. These internet platforms encourage ethical consumption by providing a venue through which individuals may clear the clutter from their closets and locate new owners for the goods they no longer wear. The fact that customers can recoup some of the money they spent initially by selling products they no longer require encourages them to spend in a more considered manner. This shift toward mindful consumerism is in line with the objectives of sustainable fashion, which are to place an emphasis on quality rather than quantity and to reduce the compulsion to continuously buy new apparel (Fletcher, 2008).
Apps and websites democratise access to high-quality fashion items, which is another way they encourage sustainable fashion practices. Historically, only a few group of people have had access to luxury and designer fashion because of the higher price tags associated with these types of clothing. However, resale sites such as The RealReal have contributed to the democratisation of luxury goods by making previously owned designer items more accessible and inexpensive to a wider audience (Nielsen, 2020). This democratisation encourages buyers to invest in well-made, timeless pieces that have a longer lifespan, hence lessening the overall demand for quick fashion and the related negative environmental implications of this type of apparel.
Apps and websites that promote the resale and exchange of previously used articles of clothing have social consequences, in addition to the positive effects they have on the environment. These platforms encourage a sense of community among members who have a
shared interest in fashion and environmentally responsible practices. For instance, Depop has fostered the growth of a thriving community of buyers and sellers who engage in conversation with one another, offer one another support, and share helpful information (Depop, 2021). According to Bhardwaj et al. 2020, communities of this type create possibilities for education and knowledge about sustainable fashion methods, further boosting responsible consumerism and ethical fashion choices.
Additionally, these platforms frequently include components of storytelling, which enables users to discuss the background of their fashion products as well as the distinctive qualities of those items. When customers purchase pre-owned garments, they frequently come into possession of items that have a noteworthy past or an interesting tale associated with them. This personal connection to clothing might lead to a stronger appreciation for the worth of clothing, as well as a lessened tendency to get rid of it as quickly as possible (Thrift, 2020). Apps and websites help to a shift in consumer attitudes towards fashion by encouraging people to perceive clothing as more than merely throwaway commodities. This transition is encouraged by putting an emphasis on the narrative that lies behind each item.
The influence of apps and websites that facilitate the resale and exchange of used fashion products extends beyond the scope of individual consumers to have an effect on the business operations of fashion firms. A growing number of companies are coming to terms with the significance of the circular economy and forming strategic alliances with resale marketplaces in order to advance sustainability goals. For instance, in the year 2020, Patagonia entered into a partnership with ThredUp in order to encourage its customers to buy and sell worn Patagonia gear on the resale platform, so extending the life of their products (Patagonia, 2020). [Citation needed] [Citation needed] Patagonia, Inc. These partnerships are evidence of a commitment to lessening the negative impact that the production of clothing has on the environment and to fostering more responsible consumption patterns.
In addition to this, a number of well-known fashion brands have recently introduced their own resale sites. Stella McCartney, a luxury brand, for example, launched “Stella McCartney Cares Green” in 2021. This resale platform for the company’s products highlights the brand’s dedication to sustainable and circular fashion (Stella McCartney, 2021). These efforts not only lengthen the lifespan of the brand’s products but also align with the brand’s beliefs regarding sustainability, which sends a clear statement to customers regarding the brand’s commitment to responsible fashion.
4.2.4. Impact of Pricing on Purchasing Behaviour of Sustainable Fashion Products amongst Youth in UK
When it comes to purchase decisions involving sustainable fashion products, consumers’ reactions are heavily influenced by the prices of those products. When compared to conventional clothes, the cost of sustainable fashion, which is distinguished by ethical production techniques, eco-friendly materials, and fair labour, typically bears a higher price tag than other types of apparel. 40.6% of the participants of the survey concluded that they are willing to pay a slightly higher price to purchase sustainable fashion items.
To begin, the cost has a big impact on whether or not something is affordable. The costs involved with sustainable sourcing, ethical manufacturing, and procedures that are responsible for the environment often result in higher prices for sustainable fashion products. Although there are customers who are prepared to pay more for these features, there are also customers who may perceive the higher pricing to be unaffordable. According to research conducted by Kim et al. (2017), the degree of income and socio-economic position of customers can play a significant impact in influencing the extent to which they are prepared to pay for sustainable fashion. It is possible that those who have a limited amount of discretionary cash will be dissuaded from selecting sustainable solutions, which will lead to a potential barrier to entry for a major number of potential customers.
However, it is essential to keep in mind that greater prices do not deter all customers from making purchases. According to Shen et al.’s research from 2020, a subset of shoppers who are commonly referred to as “conscious consumers” or “ethical consumers” place a higher premium on ethical and sustainable qualities than they do on price when making selections regarding their purchases of apparel. The survey found that 9.9 % of the participants are willing to pay a significantly higher price to purchase sustainable products.
These shoppers are eager to spend money on environmentally friendly fashion items because they feel that these items reflect their core views and values. According to Tornroos (2016), these individuals place secondary importance on cost and are more likely to select fashion goods that are of higher quality, more environmentally friendly, and have a longer lifespan.
Additionally, the impact of pricing is greatly influenced by how the target market perceives the product’s value. It is possible for sustainable fashion manufacturers to justify their higher
price points by effectively communicating the value of their products in terms of quality, durability, and ethical standards. According to Bhardwaj et al.’s 2020 research, consumers are more likely to be willing to pay a premium price for a product if they believe that the product would be superior to others in both areas of quality and ethics. As a result, pricing methods that place an emphasis on the value proposition of sustainable fashion products have the potential to positively affect purchasing behaviour, given that consumers have the perception that they are making an informed and ethical choice.
In addition, the transparency of pricing has a considerable impact on the purchasing decisions of customers in the market for sustainable fashion. According to Shen et al.’s research from 2020, people are more likely to have faith in a company if it is forthcoming on its pricing policies. This is especially true among customers who are wary of greenwashing and other forms of misleading advertising. Consumers are more likely to make educated and ethical purchase decisions when they have access to information about how the price of a product represents fair wages, sustainable sourcing, and ethical production. The ideals of ethics and sustainability are aligned with those of transparency, which resonates with customers who place a premium on these aspects of a business.
The market for sustainable fashion is also beginning to see the emergence of dynamic pricing, which is a pricing strategy that modifies prices based on factors like demand, inventory levels, and client demographics. Some companies have explored the use of variable pricing in an effort to broaden their customer base and make their products more accessible to more people. For instance, offering discounts during off-peak seasons or to specific consumer segments can attract customers who are sensitive to pricing (Thrift, 2020). It is possible that dynamic pricing could solve the problem of unaffordability that is connected with sustainable fashion products, thereby making them more accessible to more people.
4.3. Conclusion for Research Findings and Analysis
In conclusion, the findings of the research provided insights on the complex dynamics that are involved in promoting sustainable fashion among young people in the UK.
This study found that social media influencers are crucial to sustainable fashion. Over half of research participants said social media influencers promoting sustainable fashion products influenced their purchases. These personalities promote sustainable fashion and function as
role models, making sustainable choices appealing and achievable. Influencers and sustainable fashion manufacturers worked well together to promote ethical and environmentally friendly products. Influencer marketing is crucial to sustainable fashion uptake.
An effective avenue for promoting awareness about sustainable fashion goods among peers was social media. Over 50% said they would advocate sustainable fashion to friends and family on social media. Photos and videos are best for promoting sustainable fashion’s beauty and benefits. Real-time hashtags let people keep up with sustainable fashion trends and insights. This peer-to-peer awareness sharing promotes ecologically conscious shopping and ethical fashion.
The survey also noted the rise of apps and websites that sell and trade worn apparel. Many 56.4% of poll respondents found these platforms beneficial. These circular economy strategies extend fashion product life and reduce waste. Clean up your closets and find new homes for old clothes on these platforms that promote ethical consumption. They also make luxury and designer fashion more affordable and accessible to more people. These platforms build a sense of community among like-minded people and educate about sustainable fashion. Brands have formed strategic collaborations to encourage responsible fashion consumption on various platforms to further sustainability aims.
Pricing became a major element in sustainable fashion purchases. A subset of consumers was willing to spend more for ethical and sustainable products, whereas others worried about affordability. Income and socioeconomic level significantly influenced this readiness to pay more. Effective communication of value, including quality, durability, and ethics, justified higher prices. Transparent pricing policies helped consumers trust and make ethical purchases. Dynamic pricing tactics like off-peak discounts could make sustainable fashion more affordable and accessible.
These findings demonstrate valuable insight for businesses, opinion leaders, and decision-makers who want to promote a more ethical and sustainable fashion sector. The report emphasises how crucial it is for stakeholders to work together to bring about good change and turn sustainable fashion into a long-lasting ethos in the industry.
Chapter 5: Conclusion 5.1. Introduction
The current chapter’s objective is to summarise the findings of the research study presented in the previous chapter and to evaluate those findings in contrast to the literature review. After that, in order to reach a conclusion, objectives of the current research will be examined and analysed to establish key findings and decide whether objectives were achieved. In addition, recommendations that can be derived from the study that could be useful for fashion brands will be discussed. Moreover, the limitations of the study will be discussed, along with some recommendations for additional research. Overall, the research project was fruitful in terms of achieving all of its objectives.
5.2. Research Objectives: Summary of findings and conclusions
The research findings that were presented earlier provide valuable insights that are closely aligned with the research objectives, which were aimed at identifying attitudes and behavioural intentions among the youth population towards sustainable fashion products and pinpointing emerging trends in digital marketing techniques for promoting sustainable fashion to young people in the UK. The research was carried out in the United Kingdom.
In the first place, the findings of the research highlight the significance of social media influencers in terms of their ability to impact the attitudes and actions of young consumers with regard to sustainable fashion. According to the findings of the study, more than half of the people who took part in the research acknowledged the impact that social media influencers have in promoting environmentally friendly fashion products and affecting their shopping decisions. This indicates the positive attitude of young customers towards sustainable fashion when endorsed and pushed by influential people, which is in line with the research purpose of identifying attitudes.
In addition to this, the findings of the research dive into the behavioural intentions of young customers, specifically on their propensity to advocate for sustainable fashion among their peers on social media platforms. A positive behavioural intention toward promoting sustainable fashion within their social circles may be inferred from the fact that more than half of the participants reported their desire to share sustainable fashion choices with friends and family via social media.
The findings of the research provided light, in particular among the younger population in the UK, on the rising trends in digital marketing tactics for sustainable fashion. According to the findings of the study, using social media as a platform to raise awareness about environmentally friendly fashion products is an efficient way to accomplish this goal. This emphasises the growing relevance of social media as a powerful tool for reaching and connecting with young customers, which is aligned with the goal of detecting new trends, since it underlines the growing importance of social media as a powerful instrument.
In addition, the findings highlight the significance of photographs and videos in promoting the aesthetic value and practical advantages of sustainable fashion. This piece of information is essential for digital marketers who are attempting to generate content that is both visually beautiful and engaging in order to speak to the generation of young people. In addition, the utilisation of real-time hashtags for the purpose of monitoring sustainable fashion trends is congruent with the aim of recognizing emerging trends in digital marketing strategies. This is so because it highlights the significance of capitalising on popular themes and hashtags in order to communicate with a more extensive audience.
The findings of the study also make reference to the proliferation of apps and websites that make it easier to buy, sell, and exchange previously worn clothing. This developing trend in the fashion business not only increases the amount of time that fashion products can be worn, but it also tackles issues relating to the products’ prices. This is highly significant to the research purpose of understanding attitudes and behavioural intentions, as it demonstrates that young consumers are not only interested in purchasing sustainable fashion, but are also open to second-hand possibilities, thus displaying a more sustainable mindset. This is particularly relevant since it shows that young consumers are interested in purchasing sustainable fashion, but are also open to options that were previously worn.
The findings also shed light on the significance of pricing when it comes to the purchasing of sustainable fashion and the ways in which income and other socioeconomic characteristics influence customers’ willingness to pay more for ethical and sustainable products. With this new information, marketers will be able to better adapt their pricing strategies to appeal to distinct subsets of the youth population. When it comes to purchasing decisions, customers place a high value on both quality and ethics, which highlights the need of having pricing rules that are transparent. These policies should also correspond with the goal of gaining a better understanding of consumer sentiments.
In conclusion, the findings of the research offer a comprehensive understanding of attitudes and behavioural intentions about sustainable fashion goods among young customers in the UK. They also provide insights into developing trends in digital marketing strategies that may be used to effectively target and engage with the youth population. These techniques can be applied to target and engage with the youth population. The research reveals that younger consumers are open to sustainable fashion when it is delivered through the appropriate channels and approved by those who have a significant amount of power. Additionally, the relevance of price, transparency, and quality in terms of influencing consumer behaviour is brought to light by this. These findings are extremely useful for firms, opinion leaders, and decision-makers in the UK who are interested in promoting ethical and sustainable fashion among young people in that country. Additionally, these findings highlight the necessity for coordinated efforts to generate permanent change in the industry.
It is vital to address numerous limitations that have impacted the scope and boundaries of our study. Despite the valuable insights and contributions made by this research, it is essential to acknowledge several limitations. To begin, the research concentrated mostly on the young people who live in the United Kingdom. Because of this, it is possible that our findings cannot be generalised to apply to people of other age groups or in different parts of the world. The dynamic nature of digital marketing and sustainable fashion trends means that the results collected during this study may have a limited shelf life because the industry is always evolving. Because of this, the findings of this study may only be relevant for a short period of time.
In addition, the majority of the research relied on self-reported data from survey participants, which can lead to response bias and may not always correlate perfectly with real activities. The size of the sample and the methods used to recruit participants may have unintentionally skewed the results toward specific subgroups, potentially eliminating persons who are less digitally connected or less environmentally sensitive. In addition, we wanted to capture a varied variety of opinions. However, the sample size and recruiting methods may have done so inadvertently.
In addition, the primary focus of our research was on the influence of young people’s attitudes and behaviours with regard to sustainable fashion as a result of the usage of social media and digital marketing methods. It is vital to realise that other critical elements, such as cultural, economic, and individual variations, were not thoroughly studied. These variances may play significant roles in determining sustainable fashion choices, and it is important to accept this reality.
Last but not least, just like with any other kind of research, this investigation is subject to the same resource and time limits that can restrict the breadth and depth of the investigation. In spite of these limitations, this research provides useful insights on the strategic use of technology in marketing sustainable fashion amongst young people in the UK. At the same time, we acknowledge the necessity for ongoing research to capture the ever-changing character of this dynamic area.
Several major recommendations arise as a result of the extensive research that was undertaken on the strategic use of technology in marketing sustainable fashion among the youth in the UK. These recommendations are intended to advise firms, marketers, and policymakers in this dynamic domain.
To begin, it is absolutely necessary for companies to promote sustainable fashion products by utilising the power of social media influencers and digital platforms. The youth population is one that may be effectively engaged with and influenced if you collaborate with influencers whose values are congruent with those of sustainability. Investing in material that is aesthetically appealing and educational, such as through photographs, videos, and real-time hashtags, is another way to boost brand visibility and encourage consumers to spend in a more environmentally conscientious manner.
Second, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) should seriously explore the benefits of adopting circular economy tactics, such as the use of applications and websites that make it easier to resell and exchange previously worn clothing. This not only increases the life of fashion products but it also answers issues about pricing, thereby making sustainable fashion accessible to a larger audience. Furthering the cause of ethical clothing consumption can be accomplished through collaborative efforts between businesses and these platforms.
In addition, pricing plans must be carefully devised, taking into consideration the incomes and socioeconomic backgrounds of youthful customers. Trust may be built and ethical purchasing can be encouraged with the support of pricing policies that are transparent and that communicate the importance of quality, durability, and ethics. Exploring dynamic pricing strategies, such as off-peak discounts, can make eco-friendly clothing more affordable without sacrificing the integrity of the sustainable fashion movement.
In conclusion, the findings of this study highlight the importance of ongoing research into this rapidly developing sector. In the field of sustainable fashion, policymakers and academics ought to put money into ongoing study in order to keep up with developing tendencies, preferences, and behaviours among younger customers. These ideas, when taken as a whole, lend support to the overarching objective of cultivating a sustainable mentality within the fashion industry and connecting marketing techniques with the ideals and goals of young people in the UK.
5.5. Future research
When it comes to the topic of marketing sustainable fashion to young people in the UK, one possible direction for future research is to look deeper into the intersection of sustainability and technology by examining the potential influence of emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI). This would be a viable path for future research. Investigating the ways in which blockchain technology might improve transparency in the fashion supply chain and allow for the tracking of the origins of sustainable fashion products may provide useful insights into the process of gaining the trust of consumers. Additionally, there is a fascinating potential to investigate how AI-driven customization and recommendation systems may be adapted to encourage more environmentally responsible fashion choices among younger generations. If we can learn how AI can assess consumer tastes and behaviour to make recommendations for environmentally friendly alternatives and provide individualised guidance for sustainability, we could be able to develop marketing techniques that are more effective. In addition, it is very important to investigate the ethical implications of using AI algorithms in the marketing of sustainable fashion, particularly with regard to the possibility that these algorithms could either encourage or reinforce bias. Within the context of youth-focused sustainable fashion marketing, this junction of technology,
sustainability, and ethics holds tremendous promise for future study that could contribute to the advancement of sustainable fashion practices and consumer habits.
This study successfully fulfilled its research objectives, providing useful insights into UK adolescent attitudes and behaviours towards sustainable fashion goods and digital marketing trends. The findings show that social media influencers are crucial in promoting ethical fashion and sustainable fashion among young customers. The research also shows youth’s desire to promote sustainable fashion on social media, increasing its attractiveness and reach.
Emerging digital marketing trends show the power of social media to promote sustainable fashion, emphasising the relevance of visually appealing material and real-time hashtags in attracting young consumers. The report also acknowledges the growing importance of second-hand fashion platforms for affordability and sustainability.
The study also emphasises the need for transparency and value communication in ethical fashion pricing and the complex interaction between pricing strategies and consumer behaviour. It advises businesses and policymakers on influencer collaborations, circular economy initiatives, and transparent pricing to meet UK young ideals.
This research has great contributions, but its limitations must be acknowledged. The study’s focus on UK youngsters may limit its applicability to other groups or regions. The changing fashion business and internet marketing trends may shorten the research’s lifespan. Self-reported data, response bias, sample size, and recruitment strategies may affect study representativeness.
Future research should examine how blockchain and AI may improve transparency, consumer trust, and personalised sustainability advice in sustainable fashion marketing. AI algorithms in fashion marketing ethics should also be examined. This study lays the groundwork for future research on sustainable fashion and UK youth beliefs and behaviours.
*This dissertation was submitted by Sharannya Kotalawala for MSc. in Digital Marketing at Northumbria University.*