Why ethical clothing manufacturers should focus on their packaging


A recent survey conducted by workwear giant, Alexandra, suggests UK and Irish shoppers are less concerned about the impact the garments they purchase have on the environment than the packaging used to protect them. 

In the ethical workwear survey, shoppers were asked how they prioritise sustainable clothing when choosing their garments, with mixed results.

The outcome suggests sustainable garments don’t interest shoppers as much as eco-friendly packaging. Therefore, manufacturers that switch to sustainable methods to pack their products will likely appeal more to consumers.

Shoppers believe manufacturers need to change

The Alexandra Ethical Workwear survey results show British and Irish shoppers believe manufacturers need to improve their sustainability credentials, but not necessarily by making eco-friendly products.

When asked whether they’re concerned about the impact clothing manufacturers have on the environment, a majority of 63% of consumers either agreed or strongly agreed they were. 

However, at the same time, only 7.1% of them consider sustainability the most important factor when purchasing their clothes. 

The respondents actually ranked ‘Sustainability’ below ‘Comfort’ (32.7%),  ‘Price’ (29.5%) and ‘Quality’ (19.7%) as their priority for choosing a garment.

So UK and Irish clothing brands appear to have a problem. Consumers want to see businesses doing more to help the environment but aren’t swayed to purchase sustainable products. So manufacturers need to find a way of boosting their sustainable credentials without making considerable changes to their product lineups.

How manufacturers can become more sustainable

Fortunately, the survey results hint at some ways forward for clothing manufacturers.

A slight majority of shoppers are more likely to buy a garment made from locally sourced material (43.2%), so manufacturers could use local supply chains to win over more consumers. This move would simultaneously reduce their carbon emissions and provide an excellent marketing opportunity.

However, the survey suggests that manufacturers can boost their sustainable credentials by making their packaging more eco-friendly because this is their customers’ most significant concern. 

When asked, “How likely would you be to purchase a sustainable garment if it were more expensive than a non-sustainable equivalent?” 38.2% of consumers chose ‘Neither likely nor unlikely’, and 23.8% chose ‘Unlikely’. However, when asked whether they would choose a garment over a similarly priced alternative if it used more eco-friendly packaging, 55.1% of shoppers agreed or strongly agreed.

This result shows shoppers appear to care more about the packaging being environmentally friendly than the garments themselves, even if garments in eco-friendly packaging cost more. So, by adopting more sustainable packaging, ethical manufacturers stand to gain a lot of success.

In the end, Alexandra poll results are less severe for manufacturers than they appear on the surface. This is because shoppers continue to be happy with the products brands currently make and instead would just like to see them use more eco-friendly packaging, even if the garments cost slightly more to purchase.

About the research

Alexandra Workwear conducted this research as part of their commitment to improving their ethical and sustainable practices.

Visit their ethical clothing manufacturers page for more information on our sustainable workwear.