Exploring the motivations to nudge consumer engagement with alternative circular economy consumption models

Elaine Ritch, Noreen Siddiqui, Catherine Canning, Caledonia Gunn

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Our submission is a statement of interest to explore the motivations and barriers of participation in alternative CE consumption models (ACECM). We focus on fast-fashion, as this model dominates fashion consumption, particularly for younger consumers, yet also contributes greatly to environmental degradation (Niinimäki et al., 2020) by encouraging hyper-consumption Kidd et al., 2021; Lazell et al., 2018). While much has been made of the impact of the fast-fashion industry on the environment (Fletcher and Tham, 2019), fast-fashion retailers are yet to meaningfully respond to criticisms of an accelerated supply-chain that encourages frequent consumption with limited lifespan (Ritch, 2020). Retailer responses include encouraging consumers to return unwanted clothing to retailer stores to be rewarded for a voucher, encouraging more consumption (Ritch, 2019). However, recently the volume of donated garments to be exported to developing countries has been illuminated by Brexit border delays (Partington, 2021). Westernised businesses mine developing countries for natural resources, utilise cheap labour for production and return unwanted consumer waste (landfill and donated garments), compromising the environment and displacing local markets. To address these issues developed countries should assume responsibility for ‘closing the loop’ of consumption and disposal by extending the lifecycle of garments and textiles. ACECM offer such opportunities, yet little is known of how consumers engage with ACECM, especially for fashion (Park and Armstrong, 2017), and what would encourage higher involvement and engagement.
We are currently designing the qualitative and quantitative questions for dissemination over the next few months. We intend to begin with hosting four focus groups with students, and this data will be developed for wider investigation through an online survey. The focus groups will utilise convenience sampling, before applying non-probability sampling for the survey. The research will explore ACECM’s, such as collaborative consumption, redistribution models and repurposing, all of which expand the lifecycle of garments and textiles (Becker-Leifhold, and Iran, 2018; Park and Armstrong, 2017). ACECM’s have had success in previous consumption contexts, including social enterprises that operate similarly to library systems (books, toys, and tools) (Ozanne & Ballantine, 2010; Phipps et al., 2012); more recently private enterprises have capitalised on this trend, with car sharing initiatives and garment renting, such as the Lena library in Amsterdam (Ritch and McColl. 2021). Advances within redistribution markets are digitally led, through mobile applications, such as Depop, Vinted and eBay as circular consumer-to-consumer models, as opposed to being driven by the fashion industry. Whilst online redistribution activities are growing in popularity, this is insignificant when compared to annual fashion sales. Currently, only one fashion retailer (Cos, part of the H&M group) provides consumers the ability to resell unwanted clothing through their website. Yet, garment resale opportunities are gaining in prominence, London department store Selfridges opened a permanent ‘pre-loved’ department in 2019 (Marriott, 2019). Both of these examples illustrate the missed opportunity for retailers to invest in closing the loop for fashion sustainability to address the volume of clothing sold and disposed of.
Preliminary results will be available for July 2021.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021
Event2021 Academy of Marketing Annual Conference: Reframing Marketing Priorities Online - Online
Duration: 5 Jul 20217 Jul 2021
https://www.academyofmarketing.org/conference/conference-2021/ (Link to Conference website)


Conference2021 Academy of Marketing Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAM2021
Internet address


  • consumption models
  • consumer engagement
  • fashion


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