Nudging for sustainable fashion consumption: a concept design based on expert and consumer analysis

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Bachelor's thesis
Major of Design
Degree programme
Bachelor's Programme in Design
43 + 17
The increasingly popular concept of green consumerism expects consumers to make analytical judgements of what is best for the environment when making purchase decisions. However, this approach is not reliable as consumers’ decisions are often biased. For instance, fast fashion is still developing at a rapid pace although fashion consumers are increasingly more aware of their purchase decisions. Although consumers are showing interest in sustainable fashion products, a behaviour gap can be recognised between the intentions and the actual behaviour of consumers. An approach to address this behaviour gap has been recognised in the approach of nudging. Thus far, nudging has been proven as a potential method for assisting consumers to make sustainable consumption decisions. As a result, brands have directed their marketing and branding efforts towards implementing nudges that would differentiate their product offering from other brands. For example, many fashion brands have implemented the nudge of clothing tags that carry sustainability claims to allow consumers to make sustainable choices. However, studies on nudging in the fashion industry are limited and therefore further research needs to be conducted to analyse the effectiveness and potential of nudging for sustainable fashion consumption. Thus, the scope of this bachelor’s thesis was to analyse the practice of nudging in the fashion industry context through the example of clothing tags nudges. The main research question posed was: How to nudge for sustainable fashion consumption? The sub questions supporting the research were: 1. How do clothing tags nudge fashion consumers? 2. How can the nudge of clothing tags be iterated in the future? To answer the research questions, expert and consumer interviews were conducted for an industry specific analysis of clothing tag nudges. To add, a visual concept was designed to conclude the findings of this research and to conduct a design process for developing nudging for sustainable fashion consumption. The analysis of expert and consumer interviews revealed that nudging in the fashion industry is currently untransparent and the consumers do not trust the provided information due to information overflow and the spread of false information. Moreover, the expert interviews revealed that many of the clothing tags did not follow the principles of nudging: the critical analysis proved that companies have, thus far, designed nudges based on their own marketing needs. Therefore, it was concluded that further research and design should be conducted to deepen the understanding of nudging in the fashion industry, and to develop ethical practices of nudging based on consumer needs. To add, policies should be directed towards ensuring that fashion brands follow nudging principles when guiding consumers’ decision-making processes. Moreover, the concept design showcased an alternative approach to nudging in the industry. Based on expert insights and consumer feedback, the concept visualised the potential features and implementations of an upcoming European Union policy to develop nudging in fashion. The concept design was an attempt to showcase how designers should develop and iterate nudges for sustainable fashion consumption.
Person, Oscar
Thesis advisor
Miltiades, Constantinos
nudging, sustainable fashion consumption, green consumerism, transparency, greenwashing, concept design
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