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Consumer likelihood of purchasing organic cotton apparel: Influence of attitudes and self-identity

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of the organic apparel consumer. Is the recent upsurge in organic cotton products another fashion trend or is there a segment of consumers genuinely interested in purchasing organic cotton apparel based on the benefits of organic agriculture to the environment? Design/methodology/approach ‐ Data were collected with a mail survey of US health and natural foods consumers. Conjoint analysis revealed salient product attributes and cluster analysis identified segments of consumers with different attribute preferences. Factor analysis uncovered latent variables from among the large number of items and the clusters were examined for differences in their psychographic profiles. Findings ‐ It was found that the 38 percent of consumers who found used organic cotton content salient had positive attitudes toward organic and sustainable agriculture, preferred to "buy locally" and had a strong self-identity as environmental, organic, and socially responsible consumers. Research limitations/implications ‐ The sample of US health and natural foods consumers means that the results cannot be generalized too widely. Research is currently under way to relate the self-reported purchase behavior of organic apparel consumers discussed here to actual purchase behavior. Practical implications ‐ Survey respondents interested in purchasing organic cotton apparel agreed that organic farming is good for the environment, suggesting that consumers would be receptive to marketing messages that place an emphasis on the environmental benefits of purchasing organic cotton apparel. Originality/value ‐ The paper provides insight into the attitudes and motivations of environmentally concerned US consumers of organic apparel and provides information on focusing marketing to these consumers.

Keywords: Attitudes; Clothing; Consumer behaviour; Cotton; Social values; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13612020910939879

Publication date: February 27, 2009

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