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The myth of millennials socially responsible buying choices

Millennials are demanding socially responsible products and they will switch brands in favour of those with values that match their ethics. A majority of millennials are of the view businesses should be socially responsible and give back to society some of their hoarded profits. Given their annual purchasing power, which is forecast to touch $3.39 trillion this year these 20- and 30-year olds have in their hands consumer power that has to be taken into account. Despite the trumpeting of millennials’ desire for sustainable, responsible fashion, there is not much data to back that up.

New research records that price and ease of purchase (95 per cent) far outweigh any claims of sustainability (34 per cent) when influencing Millennial shoppers when spending on fashion. A report by LIM College professors Robert Conrad and Kenneth M. Kambara titled ‘Shopping Trends Among 18 to 37 Year-Olds’, revealed that millennials are more interested in a product’s brand name (60 per cent) and uniqueness (92 per cent) as against sustainability when sourcing which fashion items.

Kenneth said in a press statement that there simply aren’t enough apparel and footwear options on the market that meet the total demand for a unique, sustainable product that’s priced attractively and easy to acquire.

“There are only a handful of eco-friendly youth-oriented brands such as Anek, Everlane, Nudie Jeans, Patagonia, People Tree, Reformation and K.O.I. and none have the scale or variety of fashion offerings to meet millennials’ requirements for ease, price/value and uniqueness.” Apparel brands such as Eileen Fisher may be seen as ‘ethical’, but lack the mission-critical under 35 appeal. Further, the fashion industry’s greed for low-cost sourcing makes it that much more difficult to ensure which brands are truly socially/ethically responsible in their end to end supply chain.

Robert Conrad said fashion industry’s current approach is backward, bringing to market “what they want to offer, rather than what millennials want.” Brands must listen to what millennials are saying and develop products that resonate with this class of conscious consumers.

 
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