Consumers' understanding and utilisation of textile eco–labels when making a pre–purchase decision
Eco-labels impact consumers' likelihood to buy eco-labelled products and serve as a tool during the decision-making process that helps consumers make informed purchase choices. The textile industry is responsible for a large amount of pollution, but has started to follow a more holistic, eco-friendly approach. Information about their eco-friendliness is communicated to consumers via eco-labels. Consumers can influence the textile industry to include more eco-labelled textile products in their desired range of products, by buying and demanding eco-labelled textile products. However, international studies indicate that consumers do not understand textile eco-labels and the information that is found on these labels. A lack of understanding prevents consumers from including such products in their pre-purchase decision-making process. Yet some consumers, from developed and developing countries, are willing to buy eco-labelled products and pay more for such products. Limited research in this regard, within a South African context, is available hence, more research was required in this study field. Therefore, this study aimed to explore consumers' understanding and utilisation of textile eco-labels during pre-purchase decision-making. The research for the study was done using a convenience and purposive sampling method with a quantitative structured online questionnaire for data collection purposes. Findings suggest that respondents were environmentally conscious, but only to some extent. Most respondents objectively understood textile eco-labelled products, but not textile eco-labels or organic label information regarding cotton production processes. Respondents indicated that they do not use textile eco-labels when making a pre-purchase decision, yet they somewhat recognised the need to buy eco-friendly textile products, because they are aware of environmental implications. Regarding the information on eco-labels, respondents searched for information surrounding the quality of eco-labelled textile products, followed by the care instructions and the credibility of the eco-label on the product. Finally, there was a segment of respondents who buy and utilise textile eco-labelled products, and are willing to pay a higher price for these products. The higher price was the main factor that prevented other respondents from buying eco-labelled textile products. Consumers can benefit from education regarding environmental issues and how their purchasing choices can make a difference in protecting the environment. Furthermore, educating consumers about eco-labelled textile products might increase their awareness and utilisation of these products. In turn, this awareness about eco-labels might encourage consumers to include these kinds of products in their pre-purchase decision-making process. Additionally the industry can strive towards keeping eco-labelled products' prices relatively equal to regular product‟s prices to make it easier for consumers to choose between the different products, based on their environmental attributes and not price. Finally, the textile industry and manufacturers can focus on making textile eco-labels more attractive and attention-grabbing in order to focus consumers' attention on these labels. Furthermore, on these labels, symbols and words should be used together and all elements should correspond to enhance consumers' understanding. If all of these elements of an eco-label convey the same message, consumers might be able to understand the intended message by manufacturers and the industry better.
- Health Sciences