To accelerate the transition to a circular economy, researchers looked into the predictors of sustainable consumer behaviour. Many academics researched the consumer perspective with tested theories of rational-cognitive decision making (Diddi et al., 2019; Mukendi et al., 2019; Niinimäki, 2010). However, despite these contributions, it remains challenging to move consumers towards sustainable behaviour (Lehmann et al., 2019; Puspita & Chae, 2021). Recently, researchers have called to extend the literature on the consumers’ perspective with a business perspective (Puspita & Chae, 2021). Retailers are uniquely positioned to influence and improve consumers’ approach to consumption (Goworek et al., 2012; Mukendi et al., 2019) but have a double challenge while doing so as they have to 1) attract consumers to their specific product or service with often limited marketing budgets and 2) move consumers to a new product category and start consuming sustainably (Han et al., 2017; Harris et al., 2016).

We propose extending the PLATE conference with a thematic discussion about retailers’ perspective on promoting sustainable lifestyles and consumption. The research on the perspective of sustainable fashion companies on how they instigate consumers’ sustainable fashion behaviour does exist. Further looking at retailers’ perceptions of sustainable consumer behaviour change and how they consequently target consumer drivers for sustainable behaviour is ongoing. There are interesting differences between these two, as retailers might be convinced that sustainable consumer behaviour is driven by personal benefits but approach their consumers with extensive cognitive arguments for choosing (un)sustainable behaviour. A discussion about the rationale for current endeavours of retailers and why these may or not be successful is an interesting starting point for further research on the retailer’s perspective on sustainable (fashion) behaviour change.

Session owner: Annuska Toebast-Wensink, Utrecht University / Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, and University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

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