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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

In-store apparel shopping and sustainability communication: The interplay between attitudes and context.

Vlasenko, Larisa; Grubbström, Ann

Abstract

Behaviour can be conceptualized as the product of interaction between attitudinal and contextual factors. While there are studies focusing on either one of these determinants, research into the interaction between them is still scarce. This article aims to address this gap by exploring the interplay between consumers’ attitudes and the context of apparel shopping. The theoretical framework of the study is based on goal-framing theory. Interviews with young consumers about their shopping experiences as well as their views on fashion stores’ sustainability initiatives and communication are combined with observations in fashion stores. As a result, three patterns of the interplay between attitudes and context have been identified. The first pattern, extreme and sceptical, includes those who either strongly dislike or greatly enjoy shopping and tend to view sustainability communication in fashion stores negatively. People who are more ambivalent about apparel shopping and may respond positively to in-store sustainability communication make up the second pattern, ambivalent and favourably disposed. The third pattern, susceptible and concerned, comprises individuals who strive to reduce their apparel consumption and therefore are more prone to associate shopping with guilt and regret. They may welcome more sustainability communication in fashion stores but can be suspicious of the brands’ motives behind it. The findings indicate that some customers may construe the presence of sustainability communication in the store as an attempt to shift responsibility for environmental issues to consumers. Hence, apparel brands should try to communicate more clearly how they see their role in tackling environmental issues.

Keywords

goal-framing theory; consumption; fashion stores; shopping experiences; young consumers; attitudinal and contextual factors

Published in

International journal of sustainable fashion & textiles
2023, Volume: 2, number: 1, pages: 83-100