Consumer Attitudes towards Sustainable Clothing in a Global Context: An Explorative Case Study of Female Expatriates in Denmark

Franziska Sandra König & Kristine Kathleen Bartz

Student thesis: Master thesis


The present Master’s thesis revolves around two current global phenomena: (1) the increasing movement of highly-skilled workers, i.e. expatriates or expats, to foreign countries and (2) the rising global interest in sustainable goods. The aim of this case study is to shed light on the interplay between these phenomena by investigating attitudes of female expats in Denmark towards sustainable clothing (SC) alternatives. The focus lies on exploring the influences of acculturation processes on expats’ identities and consumption, applying concepts of consumer culture theory. The theoretical point of departure lies in consumer acculturation theory, which assumes that values and consumption change when people move abroad. At the same time, sustainability theory suggests that increasing contact with global influences heightens interest in sustainability matters. The issue at hand was investigated in an exploratory case study using methodological triangulation, primarily based on qualitative research methods, i.e. episodic interviews.
The results of the research indicate that international experience, especially residence in multiple foreign countries, influences attitudes towards SC. Those female expats with more international experience tend to display a broadened understanding of SC, including aspects of conscious consumption. They further may show a larger integration of SC into their overall lifestyle. Multiple acculturation processes are assumed to influence this development: repeated confrontation with and acculturation to multiple sociocultural contexts leading to increased cosmopolitan values and diverse cultural identification, as well as an overall acculturation to the global consumer culture (AGCC). Female expats are, thus, argued to show positive attitudes towards SC as symbolic consumption, supporting their identity construction in postmodern consumer culture. Denmark was found to be a facilitating context in this development. Shedding light on global consumer values and identities, the findings of this study signify a contribution to intercultural consumer research that can inform the promotion of SC, as well as other sustainable products.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages375
SupervisorsFumiko Kano Glückstad