Bridging the Attitude-Behaviour Gap in the Fashion Industry: Implications and Prerequisites for Fostering Sustainable Consumption

Elsa Sahiti & Tobias Laurentz Thomas Dickmann

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Purpose: This research tries to shed a light on current consumer behaviour and consumer perception of sustainability in the fashion industry. Since the fashion industry is inherently unsustainable and consumers are not yet acting on their sustainability awareness, this thesis seeks a way forward in fostering sustainable consumer behaviour. By examining this so-called attitude-behaviour gap through the lenses of the participants, the research formulates prerequisites for needed changes to move towards sustainable consumption. These prerequisites entail a variety of changes by different stakeholders including governmental regulation, social roles of businesses as well as changes in the consumer culture. Moreover, the prerequisites and outlook of this thesis can serve as basis for managerial implications. This could guide companies in understanding what the consumer expects and demands from them in a more sustainable future.
Methodological and research approach: To investigate industry changes necessary to foster this change, an abductive, exploratory, qualitative research was conducted. Through qualitative shopping experiments and a subsequent focus group discussion, data was collected and analyzed using the Thematic Network Analysis. This focus on the participants perception enabled the researchers to identify and formulate prerequisites for change in the industry.
Results: The key findings of this research suggest that consumers expect multi-stakeholder involvement in turning the fashion industry into more sustainable practices. The participants examined a need for increased focus on regulation, increased sustainable product availability and production practices by brands and companies, as well as a need for more education and infrastructure to support sustainable consumption. A need for change in consumer culture and behaviour was examined to be a subsequent step to these industry changes.
Limitations: Several limitations arising from the critical research paradigm, the qualitative method as well as pre-existing beliefs and knowledge among the researchers are given that potentially influenced the analysis and interpretation of data. Having these limitations in mind, the researchers tried to minimize the effects of said constraints by adopting an objective view.
Value: By following the outlined approach, this study is - to the researchers’ knowledge - the first to take the point of view of the consumer to investigate how the attitude-behaviour gap can be closed for the fashion industry. Both current obstacles that prevent consumers from acting more sustainable as well as needed changes to overcome those obstacles are the main focal points of this research. Therefore, it further brings value to the different stakeholders to understand consumer expectations.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final ThesisMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages113
SupervisorsJesper Clement