Consumers Care About Sustainable Materials — So Put That Information on the Label

2020 has presented consumers with a number of concerns, but a new survey by textile manufacturer Lenzing shows that sustainability is still a priority for shoppers. The study of 9,000 consumers across multiple countries showed that 44% of consumers ranked material type in their top three purchase considerations — more than any other factor, including price and brand reputation.

The “Global Consumer Perception Survey on Sustainable Raw Materials in Fashion and Home Textiles” spoke with respondents from nine countries: the U.S., U.K., China, Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Germany. There was a consistent consensus on the importance of sustainability, with a large majority advocating for sustainable raw materials as part of living a more sustainable lifestyle (86%) and making those purchasing decisions themselves (80%).

Transparency was also a running theme of the survey. While over 70% of consumers said that they would actively educate themselves on sustainable production processes, the most common way to understand an item’s environmental impact was to read product label hangtags (over 85%) – especially when purchasing apparel (88%).

“We are thrilled to see more consumers embrace a sustainable fashion lifestyle by making informed purchases based on research and reading product labels,” said Harold Weghorst, VP of global brand management at Lenzing. “Consumer interest in eco-friendly and biodegradable products aligns with our ongoing commitment to bring brands and consumers more sustainable and biodegradable options to the clothing and home textile industries.”

This finding presents an opportunity for brands to use their labeling to more effectively share their sustainability story. Not only did consumers report an interest in textile provenance, but the majority also declared that they would spend up to 40% more on apparel and home goods that had sustainable product descriptions.

Photo of clothing hangtag 100% organic
Labelling that clearly conveys environmental benefits or impact can increase consumers’ willingness to buy.
CREDIT: terovesalainen - Adobe Stock

Sharing this product information does not need to involve high-tech tracing efforts; Lenzing found that word choice alone has a powerful impact. More than half of respondents said they would be more likely to purchase products that were described as “eco-friendly” or “natural,” while “recyclable” and “biodegradable” performed even better (over 60%). By actively including this language on appropriate products, brands can enhance their appeal to the 80% of shoppers who described themselves as “extremely or very interested” in sustainable clothing.

Transparency was also reported to encourage customers to view a brand as trustworthy. Shared information about ingredients fostered trust in 83% of consumers; material origin achieved 82%. But consumers also wanted to see the bigger picture: overall brand environmental impact (87%), production processes (82%) and sustainable practices (81%) were described as important to build brand confidence.

“The findings of this survey prove the value of Lenzing’s ongoing efforts in driving the sustainability dialogue across the textile supply chain, from yarn makers to consumer brands,” said Florian Heubrandner, VP of global business management textiles at Lenzing. “This survey provided us, our partners and brands with insights to curate more targeted strategies and programs to drive sustainability, not only on raw materials, but also product afterlife.”

As a textile manufacturer, Lenzing has established its own three-pillar approach to support its brand partners in their transparency initiatives. By combining special fiber identification technology, a blockchain-based tracking system and proactive supply chain collaboration, Lenzing aims to equip brands with all the information necessary to share with their customers and build that trust.

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