This Week's Obsession: Consumer Sentiment vs. Behaviour 

This Week's Obsession: Consumer Sentiment vs. Behaviour 

Last week, we focused on the luxury industry's crisis. This week, we explore consumer behaviour and why overconsumption persists despite widespread concern for the planet. Interestingly, 90% of luxury consumers claim to consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions. Yet, until recently, luxury consumption was experiencing record growth. So, what's really happening? 

An article in the Harvard Business Review highlights a critical disconnect: consumers who claim sustainability as a factor in their buying decisions often don't act accordingly. On a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being 'I don't care very much' and 5 being 'I care deeply'), those who rate themselves between 1 and 4 make little effort to change their consumption habits. In contrast, those who rate themselves a 5 take significant actions, such as participating in marches, avoiding air travel, and adhering to strict buying limits. Luxury brands may currently rely on the 1-4s, but the article suggests that even these consumers might eventually shift their behaviours.

Those rating themselves as 5s often commit to the "Rule of 5," promising to buy only five new fashion items per year. If this seems daunting, consider this: last year, the average fashion consumer in Britain purchased 33 pieces of clothing. More intriguingly, how much of their clothing do they actually wear?

On average, people tend to wear only a small fraction of their wardrobe regularly. Studies have shown that around 50% of the clothes owned by individuals remain unworn. This highlights a significant gap between the number of items owned and those actually used​.

In practice, many individuals follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time, they wear only 20% of their clothes. This suggests that most of the wardrobe remains underutilised, leading to a large portion of clothing items not seeing regular use​ 

If you're looking to maximize the utility of your wardrobe, consider regular decluttering and focusing on versatile, high-quality pieces that you genuinely love and wear often.  Another is to start to look at different ways to maximise your wardobe by embracing circular models of consumption. 

Renting

Best used for one - off wear due the high cost per use, rental has many positive factors vs. purchasing.  

Renting clothing offers several sustainable benefits over buying. It reduces waste by extending the life cycle of garments, lowers the carbon footprint by decreasing the demand for new production, and conserves resources like water and energy needed for manufacturing.

Additionally, it promotes sustainable fashion practices and supports the circular economy by keeping products in use longer. Renting is also cost-effective for consumers, providing access to a variety of styles without the financial commitment of purchasing new items. Overall, it aligns with environmentally responsible consumption and economic benefits​

Buying Pre-loved or Resale

Buying pre-loved or resale items offers significant sustainable benefits. It reduces waste by extending the life of products and lowering the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing new items. This practice conserves natural resources like water and energy, supports the circular economy by keeping products in use longer, and provides economic savings for consumers. Additionally, it promotes the acquisition of unique and high-quality items, and raises awareness about the environmental and social impacts of overconsumption, fostering more sustainable consumer habits​.

Co-ownership 

For items that you want to wear on rotation, that you want to invest in and keep for longer than a year, the best option is co-ownership.  Co-ownership is when you purchase a share in an item (also known as fractional ownership) and you have access to your luxury items for up to 10 weeks per year. You can sell your share to trade up to new items or when you’d like to recoup your investment.  By sharing the resource you are both driving up the utilisation, a tenet of the sharing economy - your items are being maintained and repaired so their lifespan gets extended meaning they can be used for longer and become the vintage pieces of tomorrow.  

To learn more about the pros and cons of each of these models, read our blog, Which Circular Model is Best?

 Sources: (FashionUnited)​​ (Lifestyle Fifty) Harvard Business Review It's Not Sustainable