interest in environmentally responsible business practices grows globally,
researchers are interested in how that interest translates into consumer sales.
Researchers from the University of Missouri (MU) have found that United States consumers are more willing to buy
clothing made from sustainably grown U.S. cotton than apparel produced
using conventional practices in an unknown location. Jung Ha-Brookshire, an
assistant professor in the Textile and Apparel Management Department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at MU, says
transparency is the key.
important for the apparel industry to remain transparent about its products,
especially if they are produced in a sustainable manner,” Ha-Brookshire said. “We have shown that consumers want to know where their clothes come from and
would rather buy sustainably produced clothes. Many apparel companies use
sustainable practices; however, they don’t promote them very well.”
and fellow researcher Pamela Norum, an associate professor and director of
graduate studies in the Textile and Apparel Management Department at MU, define
sustainable cotton-growing practices as using fewer pesticides and less water,
land, and energy compared to traditional practices, which result in a decreased
their research, Ha-Brookshire and Norum surveyed 500 respondents nationwide.
They found that not only were consumers more willing to buy sustainably
produced cotton apparel grown in the U.S. over nonspecific cotton apparel, but
consumers were willing to pay up to five dollars (16.7%) more for a $30 cotton
shirt produced sustainably in the U.S.
believes these results show how important it is for U.S. cotton growers and apparel
companies to promote themselves.
apparel industry and specifically U.S. cotton farmers are missing a
big opportunity to promote their brand,” Norum said. “Consumers want to buy
sustainably produced cotton and they want to buy U.S. cotton. Many U.S. cotton
farmers are using these sustainable practices but aren’t communicating that
fact well enough to the public. If they would increase transparency about
cotton production consumers would be more likely to buy their products.”
studies by Ha-Brookshire and Norum were published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing and Clothing and Textiles Research Journal.