Sustainable consumption and the retailer: will fashion ethics follow food?

Elaine Ritch, Carol Brennan, Monika Schroder, Mike Pretious

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    With ever increasing consumer concern regarding the ethics of production, retailers are addressing these issues and providing alternative solutions to standard products, resulting in enhanced profitability (The Co-operative Bank 2008). This is most prominent in the supermarket sector, where not only are they competing to be the ‘greenest’, but they are judged on the availability of ethical alternatives as well as encouraging consumers to behave ethically, for example by providing recycling facilities and reducing packaging (Yates 2009). In view of the popularity of organic, locally produced and Fairtrade foods, it is worth considering that these attitudes and behaviours could be transferred from food to fashion. Similarly, following retail and community actions over the last few years, attitudes towards shopping bags have changed (Ritch et al 2009), and Rogers (2003) suggests comparative studies are indicative of diffusion and the rapid social adoption of innovation. Re-use of shopping bags has been encouraged through mainstream retailers, primarily supermarkets and retailers have exploited this trend by providing an alternative, the ‘bag for life’ or the cloth bag resulting in a desirable and often fashionable alternative to plastic bags, achieving what Solomon and Rabolt (2009: 15) refer to as the ‘fashion acceptance cycle’. An example of this is the popularity of the Anya Hindmarch shopping bag "I am not a plastic bag' that began with shoppers queuing within Sainsburys to purchase the bag after a media campaign, and ended with the bag being auctioned on eBay for up to £200 (Sorooshian 2009). This example illustrates that many consumers welcome ethical alternatives, which could be perceived as fashionable trends. With appropriate marketing strategies, retailers are well placed to build a greater market share and customer loyalty.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationReadings and Cases in Sustainable Marketing: A Strategic Approach to Social Responsibility
    EditorsClare D'Souza, Mehdi Taghian, Michael Polonsky
    PublisherTilde University Press
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Print)9780734610850
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


    • green business
    • advertising
    • promotion
    • economics


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