Sustainability for more money in fashion has a hard time

Only one in three customers is prepared to pay a premium for sustainable fashion. And when they do, it is in the expectation that the products will last longer. However, those who are prepared to pay more for it spend an average of 20% more.

When it comes to buying clothes and shoes, sustainability plays a secondary role. According to a recent study, this also affects customers' willingness to pay. Around two-thirds are not prepared to pay a premium for sustainable fashion. But those who are willing to invest often spend significantly more. Retailers need to adapt their marketing accordingly.

Product life is important for sustainable fashion items

64% of fashion shoppers are not willing to pay more for sustainable fashion than for standard items. However, those who are willing to pay will pay 20% more on average; 13% would even pay 50% more. In fact, sustainable fashion is not a mass product. This is according to the 'Simon-Kucher Global Sustainability Study'. When it comes to buying clothing and shoes, shoppers look first at price and durability. This is followed by product quality and whether the items are easy to care for and ethically produced. Sustainability ranks fifth in the list of purchasing criteria.

Durability of the products must be prioritized

Consumers who buy sustainable clothing are also most concerned with to the durability of the products. 37% of customers rate durability as important, and 45% say it is very important. What can companies learn from this? Product durability needs to be prioritized in commnication. "That's why it's important to place long-lasting products prominently," says Nina Scharwenka, partner in Simon-Kucher's Consumer Goods & Retail Practice. In mass campaigns, , however, sustainability is a secondary argument.

Profitable despite small customer base

According to the study, more than one in ten customers will even accept a markup of 50% or more. "This means that sustainable fashion can become a profitable business even with a small target group," says Dr. Jens Stach, Senior Manager in Simon-Kucher's Consumer Goods & Retail Practice, is convinced.

About the study

The study was conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners in collaboration with the independent market research institute Dynata between July and August 2022 . More than 11,000 consumers in 19 countries were asked about their purchasing behavior and their willingness to pay for sustainability, among other things.

Simon-Kucher is a global management consulting firm with more than 2,000 employees in 30 countries.