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Zalando: Fashion customers want sustainability


Zalando has investigated why its customers like to talk about ethical standards but rarely shop accordingly. Europe's largest fashion retailer hopes for a lucrative business with a clear conscience.

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Zalando parcel tower at the IPO in Frankfurt 2014

Photo: Arne Dedert / picture alliance / dpa

Zalando's next big business can be outlined in four numbers: Two thirds of customers say that transparency is important to them when shopping for fashion - but only 20 percent consciously inform themselves when shopping.

More than 50 percent of buyers consider ethical working conditions to be important - but not even half of them get correct information on this before making a purchase.

This is what it says in a study that Europe's largest fashion platform has drawn up on its own customers and their purchasing behavior - and that is available to SPIEGEL.

Sustainability is the word of the hour in the fashion industry.

There is hardly a retailer, hardly a manufacturer, and hardly a customer who does not consider the issue of ecological and social responsibility to be important.

Especially when it comes to clothing.

Especially now in the corona crisis, when many people have a lot of time to deal with their wardrobe and their consumption habits.

But most of them do not act and buy the way they like to say in Sunday speeches.

Zalando calls this phenomenon "attitude-behavior-gap".

A problem, says co-boss David Schneider.

For the environment, the climate, the industry, the customers.

He sees Zalando as having a responsibility to »contribute to change«.

Most of all, he sees it as a huge business opportunity for his company.

Last year, 16 percent of the 38 million Zalando customers bought clothing that bore the “sustainable” label.

By the end of 2023 it should be 25 percent.

It is unclear what sustainability actually means for the platform.

So far, this has been a hodgepodge of certifications, voluntary commitments and content.

Many customers do not see through this, as the study also shows.

Schneider wants to do away with this now, wants to make it easier for customers to sort the tens of thousands of offers according to their own ecological preferences.

In the future, for example, they should be able to display clothing whose raw material cultivation and production uses less water or whose wool is produced under special animal welfare standards.

The fashion retailer is now also offering its second-hand range in almost all European markets.

Above all, however, manufacturers should do more.

The study lists ten requirements, for example they should supply more suitable clothing in order to avoid returns and convince customers of their "sustainability mission".

The calculation behind the cloudy words: Sustainable garments not only often promise higher margins for retailers, for example because they are not so often reduced and returned.

Above all, they should also bind customers to Zalando.

The topic is important to people, says Schneider.

Zalando wants to make it as easy as possible for customers to shop according to their preferences.

“In the end, of course, it pays off because customers interact with us in large numbers,” says Schneider.

Will the "attitude-behavior gap" actually be closed in this way and whether customers will shop more environmentally consciously in the future - and not just talk about it?

Schneider himself is cautious.

"We still have to invest a lot with the fashion industry," says the Co-CEO.

"But of course we are still relatively at the beginning."

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2021-04-20

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