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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Customers Will Pay More for Sustainable Products

sustainable-11082202 Credit: Kheng Guan Toh | Dreamstime.com

The good news for companies that make sustainable products is that consumers say they are willing to pay more for products that have less of an impact on the environment. The catch, however, is that they're willing to pay more only if you're doing a good job communicating to your customers why your products are different.

That's the finding of research from the University of Missouri, which focused exclusively on the apparel industry. The study found that consumers are willing to support apparel companies that employ sustainable and ethical practices, but those businesses have to prove it.

In fact, consumers say they would be willing to pay 15 to 20 percent more for such products. However, they are also likely to remain skeptical about apparel companies’ claims of sustainability unless companies are willing to confirm that sustainability .

Gargi Bhaduri, a doctoral student, who conducted the research with Jung Ha-Brookshire, an assistant professor of textile and apparel management, said the research has implications for all sorts of industries.

For all businesses, it's important to be open about how you create products.

"To solve this issue, consumers seem to demand a universal standard authorizing agency to verify the claims of the businesses with transparent practices," Bhaduri said.

Furthermore, it is essential that businesses find a profitable way to make these sustainable goods before they start using their sustainable practices as a marketing message, she said.

"It must be economically sustainable first," she told BusinessNewsDaily. "Then they can be transparent and sustainable. Only then can they reach their goal."

The researchers found that consumer skepticism of corporate transparency stems from the suspicion that sustainability claims are falsified or exaggerated by apparel companies as marketing ploys.

They found that consumers want information regarding product sustainability to be available conveniently. The researchers suggest the use of hangtags, care labels, and point-of-purchase tags with clear information about their sustainable business practices so consumers can make an educated purchase decision.

The study was published in the Clothing and Textiles Research Journal.


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.