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CONSUMERS READY FOR STYLE WITH SUBSTANCE

Survey Reveals Market Opportunity for Eco-conscious Clothing Industry

CHICAGO IL and COLLINGSWOOD NJ (February 8, 2012) - New research from the 2012 Ryan Partnership Chicago/Mambo Sprouts Marketing Styling Sustainability consumer apparel survey indicates consumers would increase eco-apparel purchasing if only they could find it.

Despite the challenge, survey data shows that consumers intend to double their eco-apparel purchases this year. In 2011, leading shopper interest were eco-apparel gateway categories such as footwear (23%), active/workout wear (21%), and women's casual wear (21%), with green options purchased by about one in five respondents. While seven in ten (69%) considered eco/sustainability at least sometimes when purchasing clothing in 2011, eco-fashion purchase intent doubles in nearly every category in 2012, with the gateway segments reaching 48%, 47%, and 47%, respectively.

While price will always be top-of-mind, lack of availability appeared to be a strong limiting factor. About one in three (33%) of those who don’t regularly consider sustainability in their apparel purchases said they didn’t buy sustainable because it wasn’t available where they shop and one in four (28%) said they didn’t even know where to purchase eco/sustainable clothing.

“The data is showing a strong interest in eco/sustainable apparel. This represents a growth opportunity, especially if manufacturers and retailers make it easier to find,” said Christine Nardi Diette, group president, Ryan Partnership Chicago.

When shoppers do buy eco/sustainable, more than half (57%) said they became aware of eco-attributes through product tags, while a third (37%) credited in-store information. Fewer than one in four use digital means to seek out eco/sustainable information through online search (23%) and brand websites (22%).

Notably, a majority of shoppers (61%) expressed interest in an Apparel Sustainability Rating or Index. One consumer said, “It would be a tipping point if I were choosing between two products of similar price and quality or might persuade me to buy the more expensive product.”

Diette points out that eco/organic food, personal care and cleaning products have already overcome this eco-awareness hurdle.  “We believe sustainable apparel may be next if the industry can pull together with a similar effort to better market the category,” Diette said.

The survey shows that shoppers seek eco-conscious apparel at mainstream retailers where they shop, suggesting those products represent an immediate growth opportunity for all apparel retailers, not just niche shops. “We believe there’s a case to be made for more consistent and impactful eco-apparel product labeling and compelling point-of-sale signage.  A ‘store-within-a-store’ concept for this category could significantly increase shopper perception of availability as well, eliminating a major barrier to purchase,” Diette said.

Also, the report revealed eco-conscious consumers aren’t willing to trade fit or durability, and rank a number of “sustainable” factors at the same level of importance in their purchase decision, such as “fun” and “fashionable.” With the growing availability of a range of stylish yet sustainable apparel options, today’s shoppers can have it all – if they can find it.

The survey was fielded among 1,000 eco-conscious shoppers. Visit One Green Score for One Earth (www.onegreenscore.com) for additional information.

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