Between February 1st and April 20th COSH! asked 630 people about their current shopping behaviour and their desire to buy sustainable clothes.
Who are these 630 people? Well, for this market research COSH! was looking for willing respondents in its own community, the personal network of COSH employees and casual website visitors.
Note: The respondents did not know beforehand that this was a survey on sustainable fashion, but they did know that they were being asked to answer questions about shopping.
You can read the results of that survey below.
53% of the respondents belong to generation Y. These millennials were born between 1980 and 1995. Because this generation grew up with rapid technological progress, we also call this group the digital natives.
The second largest group of respondents is generation X. They represent 31.3% and are sometimes referred to as the lost generation. They were born between 1960 and 1980.
12.3% is Gen Z, the respondents born after 1995. Because they have been familiar with digital technology since birth - and even depend on it - we also call them the technoholics.
The last and smallest group of respondents (2.4%) are from the baby boomer generation. They were born between 1944 and 1960 and were the first generation to develop different youth cultures and subcultures.
2. WHICH CRITERIA DETERMINE WHICH CLOTHES YOU BUY?
The three main motives are quality, style & aesthetics and colour. This is followed by necessity and price. Whether the product is ecological and whether it is made in good conditions, follows only after the criterion 'price'.
Remarkable: 16% of respondents consider the affinity with a brand to be important and 11% choose to shop in a fixed shop. These criteria are more decisive than posts on social media, influencers (3%) or advertising messages (1%).
Via the COSH! Instagram account, we asked the followers to describe their style in a few words. Fun, bohemian, unisex, feminine, playful, classy, street style, alternative, pure, vintage and edgy. (Information can be viewed in the stories stored on the Instagram account of COSH!)
3. WHERE DO YOU SHOP?
Question: Which brand is your last purchase from?
Second hand (8%), H&M (4%) and Armedangels (2%) are the top 3 brands. All other brands occurred less than once per hundred respondents.
Conclusion: Most respondents' latest purchases were unsustainable and come from different budget categories. From this we conclude that we can still introduce many people to sustainable brands.
Question: Do respondents currently shop online or in actual stores?
Striking: 75% of the respondents buy clothing in a store and only 25% do so online.
If you know that people are loyal to a brand and a retailer (see Q4), it is important for sustainable retailers to reach that target group - and new buyers. This is difficult with Instagram, although many sustainable retailers try to do so anyway.
COSH! is the go-to platform for customers who want to change their purchasing behaviour and/or have just become aware of sustainability and the problems in the fashion sector. They are looking for a hold and want to discover quickly and without too much research which sustainable or circular brands are for sale in their neighbourhood, within their style and budget.
4. BRAND COMMUNICATION
- 70% of the respondents consider transparent communication to be important (rather), but this is not reflected in their clothing choices (see Q7).
- There is a gap between the brands that communicate clearly and transparently to their customers and the brands that do not. Possible explanation: do large brands have a large marketing budget and can they therefore communicate about all the small sustainability efforts they make?
Conclusion: it is important for brands to be transparent about their sustainability efforts and to communicate this clearly to (potential) buyers and interested parties.
5. PROBLEMS IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY & SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS
Question: Did the Belgians and the Dutch recently see in the media what problems the fashion industry brings with it?
63% of the respondents follow accounts on social media that report the abuses in the fashion industry, or received this information via other channels, such as printed press or online magazines. They discovered COSH! during a COSH pitch, at a sustainable fashion event or via one of the COSH! ambassadors.
The other 28% do not follow media and got to know COSH! via Google or on the advice of friends / their network.
Conclusion: 37% of the respondents can be made more aware of sustainable fashion brands and their points of sale.
6. THE ISSUES IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY
Question: What issues are the respondents already aware of?
Most known problems: poor working conditions, child labour, unsafe factory buildings and the use of environmentally harmful dyes and pesticides.
Only half of the respondents knew that many fast-fashion chains (and major brands) burn unsold clothes.
25% are unaware of child labour and poor working conditions.
38% do not know that microplastics are released when you wash synthetic fabrics.
40% do not know that synthetic fabrics are not biodegradable.
Conclusion: Here too, COSH! can still make many people aware of the issues in the fashion industry.
Question: Are Belgians and the Dutch waiting for sustainable and ethical fashion?
10% of those surveyed are hard sustainable fashion fashion fashionistas (and male experts), but 90% still needs to discover new sustainable brands and retailers.
23% of people would like to change but don't know where to start. COSH! can be a starting point for them towards sustainable fashion and sustainable shopping.
COSH!'s go-to platform can give them a good overview of sustainable brands and retailers, making it easier for them to find what they are looking for.
For 8% of the respondents COSH! can mean a lot. They think that sustainable fashion falls outside their budget. Thanks to COSH! they get to see different options of brands and retailers that do offer sustainable fashion within their budget.
With a smaller budget COSH! can't always offer the most sustainable brands and stores, but it is a step in the direction of sustainable fashion. That's why it's important that this group of people is aware of COSH!
7. WHERE TO LOOK?
According to COSH users, it would be most useful to start in Amsterdam and Ghent.
The complete overview:
Belgium: Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges, Kortrijk, Leuven, Mechelen, Ostend, Roeselare
The Netherlands: Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam
Note: These answers are probably determined by the location of the COSH! community.
8. DIFFICULTIES IN THE SEARCH FOR SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING + SOLUTIONS
What does the community of COSH! now encounter when they want to buy sustainable clothing?
The biggest difficulties are: the difficult search (26%) and insufficient supply in the neighbourhood (20%). 14% of the interviewees think that sustainable clothing is too expensive.
COSH! can help here by showing the community where they can shop sustainably in the neighbourhood, without it taking them a lot of time to find out where. COSH! can also propose sustainable alternatives to the community, within their budget, so that they too can make a sustainable(er) choice of clothing.
Question: How difficult do the frontrunners (respondents who have already started looking for sustainable fashion) find it to find the sustainability information of a brand? (0 = easy, 5 = very difficult)
The largest group (35% + 29%) find it very difficult to find sustainability information while shopping.
Question: How does the community want to receive tips about sustainable fashion?
- 68% want to be informed by means of window stickers that a sustainable fashion offer is available in a shop.
- Only 37% want an app on their smartphone (for physical shopping), and despite the fact that they usually shop physically, they still want an online solution.
- 54% want to get information online. This means that more than half of the people would use what COSH! has to offer.
- 23% find a chatbot interesting.
- 1% know all the most sustainable clothing brands. The other 99% could help COSH! to make sustainable(er) clothing choices.
9. SUSTAINABLE BRANDS AND RETAILERS
Question: Which 3 sustainability factors does our community consider important when buying clothes?
Respondents who have already bought sustainable clothing take various factors and values into account.
The top three: second-hand clothing, clothing that can be reused as a raw material and renewed materials.
With COSH! shoppers can filter and enter their preferences, such as these sustainability factors.
Question: Which sustainable shops do the interviewees know?
2/3 of the interviewees can name one or more stores with a sustainable clothing range. This always means that COSH! can still introduce many people to sustainable clothing stores. An example: COSH! can still get introduce 82.7% of the respondents to Supergoods.
Question: Is the COSH! community aware of sustainable brands?
Some of the answers to this open question:
- "What is sustainable? Which factors determine whether a garment is sustainable? Is organic cotton sustainable? A garment made by artisan craftsmen? I know a number of expensive positive impact brands but I can't afford them. I don't know of any garment brands around 80-120 euros." Ilse - Mortsel
- "Different brands already found online but expensive to buy." Marilyn - Kortrijk
- "I know there are two shops here in Bruges, but they're not my style. My mobile phone is switched off during shopping, but via the website at home, I would like to see it. So I would rather see information on the website." Francine - Bruges
- "A lot of them present themselves as such, but the sustainability is disappointing in reality." An - Amsterdam
- "C&A uses organic cotton, and that's about all I know." Floris - Alveringem
Our market research shows that:
people are looking for sustainable fashion, in their style and within their budget;
many people don't know where to buy sustainable clothing;
transparent communication about a brand's sustainability efforts is important for consumers and retailers
COSH! is an answer to the increasing demand of consumers for sustainable brands and their points of sale.
As a go-to platform COSH! offers fast, clear and transparent information about sustainable clothing brands and their points of sale. COSH! takes into account the important factors such as the style and the budget of the consumer (together with other personal criteria) in order to offer the consumer (more) sustainable clothing alternatives.
In this way COSH! makes sustainable shopping easy.
COSH! = COnscious SHopping made easy!
Take a look at our brand checker and discover in a few clicks which sustainable brands are right for you.