Consumers making a fashion statement when it comes to sustainability

  • Covid-19 a catalyst for greater sustainability
  • 41% of online fashion shoppers have changed purchasing behaviour in last six months
  • 35% would not make an online purchase from a fashion company if they discovered its packaging wasn't eco-friendly.

A new survey conducted by global packaging leader Smurfit Kappa has revealed that consumers are making a statement by demanding more sustainable packaging from brands before making online fashion purchases.  The survey, which was conducted with consumers across four European countries, found 41% of online fashion shoppers  have become more eco-conscious when buying the latest fashion online since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The research, which surveyed consumers in Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands and the UK, found nearly half of consumers purchase fashion items online once a month or more, reflecting its increasing popularity among both female (44%) and male (43%) shoppers. 

Consumers are taking action

Consumers are making conscious choices when it comes to online fashion purchases with shoppers indicating they have taken steps in the past six months to ensure their purchases are as eco-conscious as possible. 

The research found:

  • 25% of fashion consumers have researched a brand online to assess its level of sustainability 
  • 35% of fashion consumers stated they would not make an online purchase from a fashion company if they discovered its packaging wasn't eco-friendly
  • 23% of those surveyed have re-purchased from a fashion brand based on its sustainability credentials 

Commenting on the survey findings, Arco Berkenbosch, VP of Innovation and Development at Smurfit Kappa, said: “Consumers want online fashion brands to act responsibly and consider the social and environmental impacts of their businesses.  Fashion brands, and indeed all brands, need to adapt to consumer demands on sustainability or they risk losing customers’ business.

“Across the four markets surveyed, consumer sentiment and focus on sustainability is consistent, highlighting the growing appetite from European consumers that brands should continue to prioritise and commit to improving their practices in sustainability even during the current economic crisis.”

Consumers are eager to learn more

However, online fashion shoppers are facing hurdles when it comes to making the sustainable choice.  The survey found a lack of accessible information (34%), lack of sustainable options (32%) and cost (30%) as the main barriers for consumers to act in a more sustainable way while shopping online.  Over half of respondents (57%) said they would like to hear more about online fashion retailers’ efforts to be sustainable in packaging.  This highlights the level of influence sustainability has on consumers’ purchasing behaviour and how brands’ efforts can either broaden or erode their customer base. 

Consumers are thinking more broadly about the sustainability of their purchase including the packaging.  Brands must rethink the sustainability of their packaging if they are to meet these changing consumer expectations. 

Sustainable packaging a key consideration 

The research found fashion consumers were more likely to rate the sustainability of packaging as having a positive impact on the impression of their purchase over traditional marketing techniques.

A majority of those surveyed stated the efficient use of materials (62%), use of sustainable materials (61%), and seeing a brand’s sustainability credentials (56%) contribute to a positive impression of their online purchase once they receive their package.  Two thirds of consumers (66%) believe online fashion retailers are responsible for ensuring their packaging is sustainable. 

In response to the ongoing growth of eCommerce alongside consumer expectations, Smurfit Kappa has expanded its range of sustainable packaging designed for the fashion e-retail market. With innovative design mechanisms that allow for easy opening and re-sealing on returns, the eCommerce fashion portfolio offers a broad choice of flexible and stylish packaging solutions for goods of all shapes and sizes.  All products are mono-material and easily recyclable and biodegradable.  The paper-based portfolio provides a responsible alternative to brands as consumer awareness and concerns around packaging waste continues to rise.

“The results point to the high influence packaging can have on shoppers and their purchasing decisions, both the opportunity for brand loyalty for businesses that prioritise sustainability and the potential consequences for those businesses that don’t,” said Berkenbosch.

“We are working with our online fashion customers to create innovative sustainable packaging solutions that are the right fit and shape for the item, that protect the product during transit but that will also connect with the consumer when it arrives.  If we are to reduce the level of unsustainable packaging waste, everyone, including brands, consumers and packaging providers, needs to work together to have real impact,” concluded Berkenbosch.

View our sustainable fashion packaging portfolio

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