An MSc student has been in touch to ask that I publicise her dissertation questionnaire. She is conducting research on consumers’ purchase intentions and the marketing of vegan and animal friendly fashion.
If you are female and over the age of 16 she’d love to hear from you! It takes around 10 minutes to complete and all participants have the chance to win a faux leather Ipad case by vegan fashion label Denise Robool.
I got my MPhil survey results back months ago (how time flies!) and I’ve been busy analysing and drawing conclusions from them.The online survey was the second part of my MPhil methodology for the communicating ethical fashion project and I targeted individuals within the age range of 18 to 30 who either work or study at the University.Choosing the sample was hard enough because ideally I would have liked to have had a sample representative of the whole of the UK, but of course that would be near impossible for just myself to complete.The reason for choosing the sample I did was because I had easy access to this group, young people generally shop regularly, and they have a whole lifetime of shopping ahead of them.They can more easily be moulded perhaps . . . the new ‘sustainable’ generation.
I had 89 responses which I was slightly disappointed with, however that changed when I began analysing!I had to get to grips with statistical testing for the first time, something I am keen to get better at if I want a career in research.I coded qualitative answers into themes, worked out means, medians, calculated scores and compared variables.Although I had touched on many of these areas before, it was still a steep learning curve.
As expected, it is difficult to draw significant conclusions from a fairly small sample; there were certainly no statistically significant points to variable changes.However, it was encouraging to see a strong ethical agenda and environmental awareness.When it came to shopping for clothes, the majority were regular and engaged consumers.There is definitely potential there to lead them to greater tools of communication.I was surprised how many respondents had heard of a number of ethical brands, not just People Tree but the smaller brands too.That said, not many had shopped with these ethical brands.A fair number of respondents described ethical fashion as bland, unfashionable, expensive, or hippie-ish, not an unusual connotation but still frustrating as there are so many beautiful/cool ethical garments out there.There was a reasonable awareness of terms like ‘organic’ and ‘fairtrade’ which was great, but a lack of specific responses.
To be honest, consumers shouldn’t have to be the ones making sacrifices, all garments should be ethical.
I have now finished designing the questionnaire for my thesis. My thesis question,
How are fashion companies currently communicating to consumers the environmental and social impacts of producing a cotton garment at the point of sale? has required two main research methods – case study, and survey.
The aim of the survey is to find out what the public know about sustainable textiles, and their priorities when shopping. Choosing the sample was difficult because ideally, it would be representative of everyone in the country, but that’s too much work just for me! I chose a sample of 18 to 30 year olds because they are the most likely to shop regularly and buy fast fashion, but also they are part of a generation which is having to think more sustainably and will have to change their habits as time goes by. I’m hoping to get a good couple of hundred responses at least. I’m really interested to see what answers people give, because as this has been my life for the last year, its easy to forget that not everyone thinks in the same way as me, or even cares!
The research I have been working on for the last year is aiming to identify how fashion companies are currently trying to communicate ethical/sustainable attributes to the customer at point of sale.It came from the idea that when we buy a bag of crisps, for example, we are given detailed knowledge of the ingredients, nutritional information, and even perhaps the type of potato used so we can make an informed choice whether to buy it.When buying a t-shirt however, we’ll get the fibre content communicated to us, and maybe the country of origin (this, by the way, is almost meaningless, does it mean where the cotton came from? Where the t-shirt was manufactured?Or perhaps where the label was sewn in?) but precious little else.We, at the University, wanted to find a way of letting the customer see exactly where their garment had come from, what chemicals and processes were used, and its carbon footprint, all before making the decision whether to buy.
A study by Defra found that people acquire the information that influences their clothing decisions during the activity of shopping itself, as well as from conventional media.I think this is unexplored potential.The last year has involved studying the literature, approaching ethical fashion companies, and considering different research methods.For my MPhil work I have focused the work on two case study companies, and a consumer survey.The biggest issue for me, before developing any kind of point of sale communication, was finding out what the average consumer actually knows about the fashion supply chain.This brings me to the point I’m at now; developing a survey study.Surveys seemed so simple at school, but when faced with the need to produce a rigorous methodology and research design, I have realised the problems that could occur if the design isn’t just right.Preparation is everything!I’ll update my progress as it happens.