fashion, sustainability

Study: SEA consumers are skeptical of fashion items marketed as sustainable

The majority of Southeast Asian consumers (63%) are highly skeptical of brands that market their fashion products as sustainable. According to a June 2022 survey by Milieu Insight that interviewed 1,000 respondents each from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, the majority of respondents indicated they would do more research before deciding ‘to buy.

In fact, 31% of Singaporeans would ignore this type of marketing because “it doesn’t matter to them”.

The majority of Singaporeans (71%) are unwilling to pay more for sustainable products. This then raises the question whether fashion brands in Singapore might need to absorb the extra cost rather than passing it on to consumers. The finding also backs up a previous YouGov study published in May this year which indicated that 46% of Singaporeans are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products.

Meanwhile, 75% of Vietnamese are willing to pay more for sustainable fashion products, followed by Thailand (65%) and Indonesia (62%). Among those willing to pay more for sustainable fashion, 49% in Singapore were willing to pay between 1% and 10%, while those in Thailand (40%), Vietnam (32%), Malaysia (26% ) and the Philippines (26%) were willing to pay 11% to 20% more.

A total of 66% of Southeast Asian consumers purchased sustainable fashion products, particularly those from Vietnam (86%) and Indonesia (71%). Surprisingly, Milieu Insight found that 31% of Singaporeans are unaware of sustainable fashion options. Sentiments toward sustainable fashion products are broadly neutral (52%), more positive than negative (33% vs. 6%) across Southeast Asia.

sustainable fashion item chart 12hd sustainable fashion item chart

This skepticism of brands marketing their products as sustainable doesn’t just happen in the fashion industry. In fact, consumers are also skeptical of similar claims when it comes to beauty products, as Milieu Insight discovered in a previous survey in Southeast Asia.

The majority of respondents (67%) will do more research on claims on their beauty product packaging, especially those from the Philippines (83%) and Malaysia (72%). Meanwhile, 42% of Indonesian consumers and 41% of Singaporean consumers said they trust the claims on their beauty product packaging to know if it is sustainable/clean/ethical, while only 28% in Malaysia says the same thing.

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