This proposed research paper is based on the growing market of organic clothing in UK fashion and retail industry. The organic industry has started with the organic food because people are very much conscious about a healthy lifestyle. But now the consumers are concerned about the environment as well. So the organic industry has increased the range of products from food to gifts, clothing, accessories, skin care products, beauty products baby and maternity products. Now organic industry is becoming popular in high streets and retailers realised that the consumers are looking forward for the ethically sound fashion. Moreover government is very much concerned about the increasing UK landfill and they have launched a campaign for tackling the environmental impact of the current fashion culture. They want the retailers to make sustainable clothes where people can use and dispose it without damaging the environment. The cheap throwaway clothes are adding to the landfill because these clothes are not eco friendly. So poisonous gases are emitting from these sites and harm the environment as well as living beings. Though people are aware about all these things, organic clothes are not able to compete with the other materials. The entrance of organic clothes is a new challenge for retailers, suppliers and also the designers. The cheap throwaway clothes are fewer prices compared to organic clothes. The main problem which is going to be discussed in this research is how sales of organic clothes are affected by cheap throwaway clothes and how we can make the organic clothing to an everyday reality? If cheaper clothes become the market leader, then organic clothing will not be there in the future market. So how organic industry can be the market leaders and make it affordable and fancy everyone with its designs and prices. To give a detailed explanation about these problems the researcher will assess the challenges facing by organic clothing industry shows the comparison of organic and other fabrics and also the benefits of organic clothing.
This research involves the analysis of how cheap regular clothing affects organic clothing industry and environment, challenges facing by organic clothing and also the future of organic clothing industry in the competitive retail market. Below are the following aims of this research:
ƒ˜ Analysing the impact of cheap regular clothing industry over organic clothing industry.
ƒ˜ Consumer awareness about the benefits of buying organic clothes
ƒ˜ Analysis of sales prospects for organic clothing and its future to establish a sustainable market share.
ƒ˜ Environmental impact and the consequences on stakeholders due to cheap clothing market.
Below listed are the objectives which are the main focus of this research and it depends on the above mentioned aims.
· Understanding the ethical fashion and the importance of biodegradable clothes.
· Production and the process involved in the manufacturing of organic clothing
· Consumer behaviour in fashion and retail industry
· Market of cheaper clothes affecting the growth of organic clothing industry.
· Better marketing strategy for easy penetration of organic clothing in to the fashion industry
2) Research Methodology
This following section talks about the method which has been implemented for the purpose of conducting this research. Each methods and its performance will be described and also the reasons for using these methods and techniques. Towards the end of this research paper, restrictive weakness regarding the applied methods and techniques will be explained briefly. There are two methods of research and that is inductive and deductive. In inductive method general principles are building up from detailed observations. The deductive research approach is a method which is expanded on the basis of general principles from the exact expectations of hypothesis.
Types of research
There are 2 types of data collection method in a market research and that is Qualitative research method and quantitative research method. When the two methods of research unite, the effect of research can be more useful.
“Qualitative research is used to help us understand how people feel and why they feel as they do. It is concerned with collecting in-depth information asking questions such as why do you say that? Samples tend to be smaller compared with quantitaive projects that include much larger samples. Depth interviews or group discussions are two common methods used for collecting qualitative information”. http://www.marketresearchworld.net Qualitative is a kind of scientific research and this investigates the areas which give answers to the question, collect evidences, produce findings etc. it takes researcher to the deeper truth of the topic. It gives a proper understanding of a given research topic from the perspective point of view of the locality which is involved. Qualitative research is an effective method to gain information about the opinion, value and behaviour of the population. Qualitative research provides appropriate answers to the question given by the researcher and also gives some valuable evidence which may not get from other methods.
“Quantitative research is a research method that relies less on interviews, observations, small numbers of questionnaires, focus groups, subjective reports and case studies but is much more focused on the collection and analysis of numerical data and statistics”.(paranormality.com, 2009)
This is a research method which will measure the people’s reaction in a particular way. That means the way they think, feel, act and it provides the information in a statistical and numerical way. The common methods used in quantitative researches are experiments, documentary, survey etc which will give a statistical and numerical data for a final judgement. Qualitative research will gain some information to form theories and those theories can be tested with quantitative research. In this research the author has used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. There are certain reasons why the researcher has used both qualitative and quantitative methods in this research paper. That is given below.
The researcher will be conducting interviews with an online retailer of organic products to collect information which will make the topic clearer to the reader. This will be both qualitative and quantitative data collection method.
There are questionnaires to customers which are used to collect some data from the customer’s point of view. This is quantitative in character but when the researcher gives explanation to it, turns to be qualitative and quantitative ending.
This is an area where the researcher is going to discuss about the research strategy that is used for conducting the research. The information about research strategy in the website www.lib.unca.edu shows that research strategy will give right directions to the work and will make researcher to do the research systematically instead of arbitrarily. It reduces the frustration of the author, saves time and also improves the quality of the research.
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Here the researcher has taken retail clothing industry and in that, organic clothing market as a focusing area to find out the challenges and business issues which they are facing. The research is not made on a particular organization or a company but the researcher has approached an organic retailer to collect some information and data for an in-depth study of the topic. With all these information, the researcher tried to analyse the competitive states of the clothing industry, the difference between the throwaway clothes and the organic clothes and its benefits, the environmental effects, easy penetration, product developments and innovation, future of organic clothes market, pricing strategies etc.
Data collection methods
Here the researcher would give a detailed description about the data collection methods which is used in this research. There are two types of data collection methods. They are primary data collection method and secondary data collection method.
Primary data collection methods
In primary data collection method, data is collected by the author by using certain methods like interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus group interviews, case studies etc. the very important thing to be noticed in this is, the data which is collected by the author for the purpose research should not be taken from any books or from others works. It should be unique until it publishes. The primary data may be qualitative in its behaviour or can be quantitative. Here the researcher has collected primary data by taking interviews and questionnaires.
What is organics?
The organic world is detailed and compound with governments, businesses, organisations and other individuals from many part of the world who attempts to generate an agreement on what has to be organic. For eg. Organic food production, the farming and agriculture is done by using the system that stay away from any kind of artificial interference. These method of organics doesn’t harm the environment as well as wildlife by avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilisers and if necessary antibiotics can be used. The whole idea is to work in accord with the nature using the techniques and tools which nature offer instead of dominating and destroying the nature with man-made fertilisers and pesticides.
Clothing with scruples-organic clothing.
Organic clothing is becoming a trend in high street. The variety of organic clothing is massive and it starts from organic sportswear to night wears. Most of the people go for shopping and buy things which magnetize their eyes without a second thought of who made that and what it is made up of or where are they coming from. But nowadays there are consumers who are conscious about their healthy life style as well as environment. And that is the reason behind the rise of organic cotton and fair trade clothing.
People are always fashion conscious and each season leap from one trend to another trend because the retailers in high streets are imitating the newest catwalk looks. But now the high street retailers are into another trend that is organic materials. Though they are trying to make the organic trend popular there are lot of challenges facing by organic world of clothing. This research goes through that challenges and difficulties facing by organic clothing industry and appears with some findings which provides an answer for ‘organic materials are just a pricey opulence for well-off or will it mature into a high street reality?’ if the retailers can provide the customers with eco friendly and ethically sound apparels and get them into fashion stakes, then organic clothes can become an everyday realism.
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Production of organic clothes is done by using sustainable resources like hemp, silk, organic cotton, bamboo fabric and linen. The harvesting and the production process should not affect the environment and the surrounding or human being. Organic clothing does not include only food, sandals or t-shirts. It includes a wide range of clothing which we can see in other fabrics. There are reusable nappies for babies. There is a good market for baby products by organic industry. Naturally produced materials are very important for baby’s health and skin. The fabrics which are chemically treated can irritate the baby skin because they are delicate. For example cotton fabrics, everyone think it is pure, safe and comfortable for people in any climate but it is shocking when we look into the production methods of this fabrics. So by purchasing organic materials we support a secure and eco friendly working practices, protecting the environment from toxic waste, saving the life of living beings and as well as getting a healthier life style for ourselves.
The retailers are investing lot of money for producing ethically sound fashion. Marks & Spencer and its suppliers have started developing eco factories to make a way for different process of sustainable manufacturing. They have realised that the customers want clothes which are not only look good or feel good but also should not leave harmful effects in the environment.
According to ethicalforum.com “Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment. The meaning of ethical goes beyond doing no harm, representing an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, minimizing and counteracting environmental concerns. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.” (ethicalfashionforum.com, 2009)
Ethical fashion is defined as an approach to the manufacture, source of clothing and also designs range which has to be aware of society and environment and also sustainable. Ethical fashion and its products should do the promotion of eco friendly materials and the process of production should not harm the environment. It also has to provide fair wage and fair working atmosphere for the employees in the industry.
There are two areas to focus when we talk about ethical fashion, environment and the people or giving preference to organic standard and fair-trade standard. Fair-trade standards are about the employees who make the clothes and who fabricate the raw materials. Worldwide there are more than 30million cotton farmers. Much of the materials are coming from developing countries. This fair-trade ensures that the workers are given a fair pay and also exploit child labour. It also ensures the working condition and the atmosphere.
Basically ethical fashion respects the nature and the earth. Cotton cultivation will pollute the atmosphere. Cotton cultivation needs eight times more chemicals than what we use on a normal food crop. This pollutes air, soil and river. It also affects the people who are working in this field. A large percentage of death is happening every year due to pesticides in the cotton field. Many pesticides are used unnecessarily. We can protect the cotton by using soap, garlic, chilli etc. Rest chemicals are used at the time of processing and dyeing the fabric. One company approximation is almost 8000 types of chemicals are used to produce a t-shirt. Ethical fashion is clothing which is made with fair-trade organic cotton where in sweatshop free conditions. This is a growth market and it is slowly finding its way to high streets. Ethical fashion mention the way fashion industry currently works and the problems such as labour exploitation, environmental destruction, cruelty towards animal etc. It is very important for the people to know the need of ethical fashion in today’s world. The organic industry has to find a permanent market place in retail industry and fancy people with its quality, benefits, designs, price etc. So ethical fashion has to be encouraged by the government, retailers, suppliers and the consumers, who are the stake holders and this can give a better living condition, health and a good lifestyle. This is a great challenge for the designers to promote ethical fashion by getting the newest trends to the organic fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo fabrics etc.
“The way a chair breaks up space or a building cuts into the sky with so many different views is how I feel a garment relates to the body,” says Brooklyn designer Nina Valenti, who launched the sustainable line nature vs future in 2002. “I design pieces that have a strong line, form and texture.” (organicconsumers.org, 2009)
The designers are trying to widen the range of designing in organic clothes. For example designs of Nina Valenti, her clothes has gathers, pleats, stiffness, slits etc and she uses the fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, wool and also the fabric made from recycled soda bottle. If the consumers understand the difference between organic and cheap clothes and if they are getting the vast variety of products based on their demand, the eco fashion will be a turning point to the today’s fast fashion culture and organic clothing industry will turn to be everyone’s choice.
Famous marketing author Kotler says”A name, term, symbol or design (or combination of them) which is intended to signify the goods or services of one seller or groups of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitors.” (Groucutt, 2005)
Here it gives a proper understanding that branding is not about achieving the target market and be the market leader but it is about receiving the outlook to see the brand as that is the only thing which gives solution to the consumers problems. Branding creates many challenges to the marketers. To get success in branding the brand should have clear prospects about the needs and wants of the consumers. It is important to spend some time for defining, understanding, researching and then building a brand. A brand is a kind of promise which is given to the consumers and it is also a foundation in the marketing communication. Before branding was just identification for the customers to differentiate one product from another. Gradually people became brand conscious and they started rating the products with the brand name. Then marketers started creating effective brands. Now every sector has got brands and people choose the products with the brand names. In the case of organic clothes there are lot of brands like Eden clothing, Edun, rain tee etc and there are designers as well to encourage eco fashion. But still ethical fashion is not able to compete with the larger brands. The organic brands are targeting niche group of green consumers instead of mainstream brand’s consumers. There are some ethical fashion brands that are successful in the way they are communicating with the target consumers. Patagonia is one of them who became an international brand. But now the retailers have worked out another way to penetrate organic clothing in to the market. They are promoting eco friendly clothes as a different section of the existing brands. For example Nike, Levis, M&S etc, these brands are taking a significant pace to progress the organic industry to the mainstream. These global brands are producing profit of multimillion pounds every year by using sweatshop labour in developing countries. After decades, the brands like Nike, Gap etc have admitted that the employees have been abused and exploited by force labour in the factories. So they promised that they will improve the working condition for a lot of people who are not paid well to produce their highly demanded goods. There are lot of factors which affect the purchasing habit of the consumers. Though they are concerned about the environment and social problems, there are lot more reasons for the consumers to select a particular brand or the product. As the high streets are welcoming ethical fashions or organic clothing, there are some changes in consumers buying behavior. They are being responsible socially and culturally. The marketers are aware of this situation and even they are making changes to the existing brand to make sure that they are ethical in the way they process.
Ethical marketing and advertising
“Ethical marketing frames messages in a way that the consumer identifies with. It encourages companies to integrate cultural, social, economic and environmental values into their culture, strategy and actions, and reinforces the positive values of the brand, creating a strong ‘citizen brand’. This is all done on a voluntary basis, and is generally an offering above and beyond statutory requirements.
Through the effective use of ethical marketing and corporate social responsibility, companies are able to positively contribute to society and manage the environmental impact of their organisation, whilst maintaining and even growing the contribution to their bottom line. It can have direct benefits on businesses and can help secure long-term competitiveness”. (grassrootsideas.co.uk, 2009)
Ethical marketing is defined as applying marketing ethics into the process of marketing. Ethical marketing comes in a socially, culturally responsible and sensitive business area. It is an examination from the moral point of a marketing issue which needs a moral judgment. The survival of human race for long period and the successful future basically depends on accepting these concepts or refuse them. Ethical marketing should also have an observation whether the representation or marketing of a product or service has reached in a framework where social and cultural values meet. It is a business which makes its own way of marketing ethics and uses this code in every portion of business process which gives ability to offer valuable benefits to the customers. The consumers have to realise this competitive advantage. The ethical issues like child labour, the employers working condition, the environmental problems etc made the world think that they are more responsible socially and culturally. This pressured the companies and made them market their services and products which is socially moral and responsible. The best example for ethical marketing is the increasing demand of fair-trade. The whole idea of this fair-trade is, consumers pay a certain amount for the goods to a group of producers and the producers offer fair wages to employers and also preserve the environment. This sets up a trade which is ethically sound.
The main aim of ethical marketing is to achieve customer loyalty by supporting positive values of a brand to make it a strong citizen brand. Though it is a new method of process which forms new challenges for the marketers, this will pressurize in developing products which gives long term benefits without any reduction of quality of the products. Ethical marketing comes in the picture when the marketers and the organisation realise that more improvements has to be done for making a better human life possibilities. Some companies like Coop Group have decline to invest money in business of fur, tobacco etc. In the case of organic clothing a strong awareness has to be done to improve the sales and the demand. The retailers of organic clothes have to be more concentrated in the way they market they products.
“In highly developed markets where consumers are often cynical about brands, word of mouth is increasingly the main source of recommendation. And the brands most likely to be recommended are from companies that are ethical in the way they behave. With the explosion of blogs and online social networking, word of mouth has become one of the most potent brand management tools available. There is no longer anywhere to hide-your brand will be found out and rejected unless you commit to ethical business and marketing practices.” (The Marketing Society Forum, 2009)
As we mentioned above developed markets will have consumers who are more conscious about the brands. Word of mouth has become an effective marketing tool in today’s world. This has become powerful with the help of online social networking, creating blogs etc. The brands need recommendation from the companies to be shown that they are ethical in all the ways. Each brand has got its own production ways and marketing. They have to make sure that they are processing their business in a social responsible way. It should be acceptable culturally and socially. For example Gap, the brand which had highest turnover, they got a black mark when the brand name was related to child labour practices in the manufacturing state. This has affected their sales and the retailer Zara had hit the highest turnover label in the following year. Also Gap had to remove those items from the sale which they used child labour. All western clothing chain makes their production process in Asia. They take the advantage of cheap labour providing by Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, Indonesia etc. So the way they process should be ethical in all the ways because there are consumers who encourage ethically sound business and its marketing. In this instance each brands can encourage the organic clothing industry by providing organic clothes with their brand name. In UK like places people are very much conscious about the newest fashion as well the brand which they wear. So if every brands make their clothes eco friendly, that means they are being fair towards the human and the society as well. Consumers are acquiring better quality products which don’t harm their skin and the environment. Through effective advertisement organic retailers can make everyone aware of the importance of organic clothes in today’s era. The government and the marketers have launched campaigns to give awareness about eco fashion and also to undertake environmental impact of fast fashion culture. Organic consumers association launched global campaign to raise the awareness of negative health and environmental effects of cheaper clothes and its production process. Then we can make ethical fashion an everyday reality.
“Market leadership is usually understood in terms of the position of a given company within an industry or market, based on three factors. When determining whether a corporation can properly be referred to as a market leader, the profitability of the company will play a major role. Along with how profitable the company happens to be, the market share volume and value will also be considered”. (wisegeek.com, 2009)
In the above sentence it is explained that an industry, market or an organization’s position in the market is depends on three points. That is profitability, market share, market volume. But now the market is more competitive and the competitors are also high in number. So there are some more points which have to be added to get a market leadership like innovations and developments, advertising, branding, quality, price etc.
“Fashion is a very copycat industry,” says Scott Hahn, who launched Loomstate, an American organic cotton denim line, to the likes of Harrods and Selfridges last year. “There are a few pioneers and other brands follow. For some it’s because they think organic cotton is trendy now that it’s escaped its tree-hugger image. But more I think are now doing so for the right reasons.” (organicconsumers.org, 2009)
In the case of organic industry, the organic clothes have penetrated to the market. To increase their market volume, share and profitability and be a market leader they need to do innovations, product development, pricing and advertising. Advertising and promoting the product is a very important and effective marketing tool to get the consumer’s attention. There are some consumers who are concerned about the environment as well as they has realized the benefits of using organic clothing. It is not only an understanding about the benefits of organic clothing but they also have to know the harmful effects of cheaper clothes to the environment and to the health of human beings. The BBC has released news about the environmental problems and UK landfill due to the growing sales of cheaper throwaway clothes. According to the survey done by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) says “the clothing and textiles sector in the UK produces around 3.1m tonnes of carbon dioxide, 2m tonnes of waste and 70m tonnes of waste water per year. Gases such as CO2, emitted by fossil fuel burning, and methane, released from landfill sites, are widely believed to be contributing to global warming”. (bbc.co.uk, 2009)
UK ministers told that the consumers should make sure that the production, selling and disposal of clothes are not harming the environment as well as not exploiting the workers by the use of poor labour practices. The fashion has to be more sustainable throughout the whole process which includes design, production, selling and disposing. The whole idea is to get the attention of consumers to make them understand the negative impact of cheap throwaway clothes which is highly in demand in the high streets of UK but this is making a way to increase the landfill in UK. The campaigns launched by the government and clothing associations were useful to make consumers aware about why to use organic clothes. Through these campaigns the retailers of organic clothing and the government is aiming to build a highly demand market for eco-fashion. To enter in a vast market like fashion or clothing industry, need to plan highly competitive business strategies. Marketing and advertising alone will not make the organic clothes sustain in the market and capturing the market to be a market leader. From the perspective view of new entrance like organic clothes, entering a drenched market with limited designs wouldn’t make a difference in the market and won’t get an entrance easily. The entrance of Body Shop to the market is the best example here. Anita Roddick has entered in the cosmetic market where lots of high end brands are competing each other. But her innovative idea of handmade and natural cosmetic products attracted the customers and gave body shop a permanent position in the market.
According to a study done by OCA (Organic Consumers Association) sales of organic cotton is doubling every year. “Sales of organic cotton are set to triple to $2.6 billion at the end of 2008 from its current $900 million level as retailers and brands make significant new commitments to sustainable textile and apparel production”. (organicconsumers.org, 2009)
There is lot of brands like Nike, Timberland, Marks&Spencer, Wal-mart etc have already opened organic lines they were joined by Reebok, C&A etc as new comers. The market of organic cotton is widening every year and it also attracts the global investors. In this situation the only issue which is worrying is the availability of fiber to satisfy the increasing demand for cotton and other organic fabrics. It is a known factor from these reports that organic industry is going to be a good competitor in the fashion and retail world in the coming years.
Blackwell et al said, “Consumer behaviour is defined as activities people undertake when btaining, consuming and disposing of products and services.”(Blackwell et al, 2001).
Consumer behaviour is a study of buying behaviour of the customers in the market that means what consumers are buying, why they are buying. Better understanding of the consumer behaviour will help organisations to improve the products and services and also their business, marketing strategies. This will influence consumers to buy that particular product. In the case of organic clothing, they attract the consumers by quality and the elegant designs of the products. The consumers are aware that organic products are good for health and skin. So they started getting attracted to the food products firstly and then to baby products. Much of the consumers are worried about the delicate skin of the babies, so they go organic especially nappies which can be recycled. Here comes the importance of the study of consumer behaviour.
One “official” definition of consumer behavior is “The study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.” (consumerpsychologist.com, 2009)
Understanding consumer behaviour will help to develop the marketing strategies like pricing, segmentation, targeting, product designing, positioni
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