To accelerate the transition to a circular economy researchers looked into the predictors of sustainable consumer behavior. In the field of fashion several academics researched the consumer perspective with tested theories (Diddi et al., 2019; Mukendi et al., 2019; Niinimäki, 2010). However, despite these contributions, it remains challenging to move consumers towards sustainable fashion behavior (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) and look at how fashion retailers can persuade consumers to choose sustainable fashion.

(Fashion) 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) move consumers to a new product category and start consuming sustainably (Han et al., 2017; Harris et al., 2016) and 2) attract consumers to their specific product or service (with often limited marketing budgets).

We look forward to a thematic discussion about the retailers’ perspective on sustainable behavior change. We will share insights from our own research on the retailer perspective in fashion. We interviewed Dutch fashion retailers about what they presume to be the drivers for sustainable consumer behavior and which behavioral drivers they aim to target in their marketing endeavors. We found that the interviewed fashion retailers tended to be convinced that sustainable fashion consumption is driven by personal consumer benefits, however, they approached their consumers with extensive information about (un)sustainable fashion. This presumes that how they look at consumer behavior is not aligned with their marketing approach.

In this thematic session we look forward to bring together individuals from different fields to discuss the role of retailers in sustainable (fashion) behavior change. We welcome contributions from different perspectives to answer questions such as:

  • How do retailers look at drivers for sustainable consumer behavior change, and what does that tell us?
  • What behavioral drivers for sustainable consumer behavior change do retailers aim to target in their marketing endeavors and why are these successful or not?
  • What can fashion retailers learn from retailers in other fields about sustainable behavior change?
  • Which retailer interventions to motivate sustainable fashion behavior change seem promising / have already been tested successfully?

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

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