Jun 5, 2023
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Knowledge key for Gen Z who'd return less if they knew about carbon impact

Jun 5, 2023

We’ve heard a lot about how returns are causing a major problem for retailers in the fashion sector at present, but a new study suggests that better communication about the impact of returns could make a difference.

Photo: Pexels/Public domain

The key Gen Z demographic of younger consumers increasingly “wants retailers to communicate the carbon impact of their purchases at each stage of their buying journey”.

That’s according to the latest data from AI sizing and fit platform True Fit.

It spoke to 1,000+ UK shoppers and found that “as green retail demands become a key battleground for generating sales and driving loyalty among Gen Z shoppers, 31% now want the sustainable credentials of a garment clearly stated on the label”.

And 25% said brands should show the CO2 ‘price’ for each item, alongside the shop price, to help inform their buying decisions. 

As many as 62% of the Gen Z respondents felt retailers could help them shop more sustainably “by not offering fast fashion altogether or moving towards offering slow fashion collections, featuring more sustainably manufactured garments that are made to last”.

That’s interesting because the ethical fashion market is predicted to be worth as much as $10 billion as soon as 2026 and 67% of Gen Z would consider swapping fast for slow fashion “to be more environmentally-conscious in their buying choices”.

Recent BFC data showed 23 million garments being sent to landfill or burnt last year and True Fit’s research showed that sustainably minded Gen Z shoppers "would be motivated to return less if they were aware of the carbon ‘cost’ associated with their return”. Some 21% agree that being made aware of the carbon emissions associated with an online fashion return “would encourage them to send less back”.

Some 33% of Gen Z shoppers said they want retailers to make it easier for them to return less so their carbon footprint would be smaller, while 65% said improved sizing information or personalised fit recommendations would help them choose the best fitting item, ensuring they returned less in the first place.

True Fit’s COO Jessica Arredondo Murphy said: “Two important things we have all learned about returns in the last five years – they are not going to go away, and there is no single magic bullet that will solve them. That being said, it is worth starting with the imperatives for action. While once this was mostly about protecting profit margins, now we are talking about the very real need to address returns for the sake of a sustainable future for fashion in the context of its environmental footprint and the growth of e-commerce.”

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