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Marketing Assignment: Consumer Behavior in Fast Fashion Industry

Question

Task: You are required to write a research report on marketing assignment addressing the introduction and literature review of the topic “Fast Fashion: Consumer Awareness and environmental sustainability”.

Answer

Chapter 1: Introduction
Research Background

In a marketing assignment, the most important part of the research is the background. The background provides context regarding the purpose on which the study is centered. Research background involves a small discussion based on the main theories as well as the models of research problem. The research background is responsible in giving the readers a preliminary idea and overall understanding about the research they are about to see and study if needed. It is important for any research background to be precise and the main contents, objectives and the ideology behind the research must be discussed.

This research is about a relatively new concept that is popularly known as ‘fast fashion’. Fast fashion is a new concept in the world of designer clothes and garments that basically is all about manufacturing clothes and garments based on present and popular trends in the fashion world and sell them immediately at affordable prices in huge numbers and to large masses of people especially young women and ladies and advertise them as the latest trend and customers must try these clothes in order to keep up to the current trend. The knowledge of the customers and their awareness levels are also discussed in the research which are done on the basis of collected data sources from different authentic sources such as magazines, literary pieces and journals. The research also emphasizes on the background and procedures on how this fast fashion industries and manufacturers work, how much sustainable they are, and what their effects on the environment as a whole.

Research Purpose
Research purpose is basically an affirmation of “why” or the reason of conducting the study. It mainly deals with the goals or aims of the study. In some cases, the aim of the research might be about the identification or description of a concept or explanation or prediction of a situation or provision of a solution related to the situation.The main purpose of this research is to understand about fast fashion in detail and know the total life cycle of the associated products and garments that represent this fast fashion. The environmental sustainability aspect is also an important topic that is discussed in this research.

Research Significance
Research significance is provided in a research paper to clear out the reason as to why the study was needed along with the particular contribution that the research made in order to improve academic knowledge. The main significance of this research is that this research throws light on a side of a product and entire manufacturing process that is quite popular and normal in reality, but most people do not know how this industry and concept came into existence and how they are running currently in the UK market. The research also is also significant in terms of its detailed approach towards describing how there exists a life circle of a clothing item and that life circle is actually important because that explains the entire manufacturing, employee involvement, marketing and customer attitude for this particular product/industry. This approach also enables the research to understand the potential pros and cons of this business as well.

Research Rationale
Research rationale talks about the reason behind the conduct of the study. The rationale must have an answer regarding the need for carrying out the research. It is even known as justification of the research because the rationale justifies the novelty and significance of the research. A new horizon of analyzed information and understanding about fast fashion trends in the UK has been done that discusses about the background and manufacturing processes and the marketing aspect as well. How the customers see these products are also explained in details. However, the main motive of this research is to make people aware about the true value of this industry and what are the social and environmental impacts of this industry (Cook andYurchisin, 2017).

Aim
The aim of the paper is to gain a comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour in fast fashion industry

Objectives

  • To understand the notion of fast fashion
  • To assess the lifecycle of fast fashion products
  • To investigate the influence of fast fashion on consumer behaviour
  • To understand the factors determining the exploitation of the labours in the garment industries in the UK
  • To identify the social and environmental impact of fast fashion indsurty

Research Questions
Research questions represent the main areas or the questions that the research looks to answer through the work. These questions are answered based on collected information, data analysis and with the help of different theories. The research questions also give the readers an idea about that to expect from the research and what the potential aspects that will be covered in the work and from those, authentic and vivid conclusions can be expected to be received. The research questions of this research are:

  • What is the concept of ‘fast fashion’?
  • What is the life cycle of fashion products?
  • How is fast fashion influencing consumer behavior?
  • How is it exploiting the labors in the garment industries in the UK?
  • What are the social and environmental impacts of fast fashion industries?
?

Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction of Fast Fashion

The term “Fast Fashion” was first heard when Zara launched in the city of New York during the 1990s.It was said that Zara aimed to produce a garment from design stage and finally to be deliverable in stores in only a span of 15 days. In the sustainable world, the term ‘Fast Fashion’ is considered to be buzz phrase. Fast fashion industries are aiming to come up with an ethical and sustainable future.20 years ago, a change happened. The cost of garments became cheaper; the trend cycles paced up and shopping turned into a hobby (Aftab et al., 2018). So, it is very important to know what exactly Fast Fashion meansFast fashion is nothing but a method of making designs, strategizing marketing and manufacturing and is focused on rapid production of huge numbers of clothing. The term “fast fashion” indicates to the collections of clothing which are low in cost but also goes with the current fashion trends. It takes its ideas and designs directly from the celebrity culture or catwalk and converts them into trending clothes at unimaginable speed in the stores of high street in order to fulfill the demands of the consumers. Fast fashion mainly attracts the young consumers as these groups of customers are always in demand of luxury fashion but also at a low rate (Su and Chang, 2018). Hence these types of industries use materials low in quality and trend replication to offer inexpensive styles for the public. The main focus was to bring the newest styles on the merchandise and that too at a fast rate. This gave the shoppers an opportunity to snap the garments while staying at the peak of their fame and popularity and then after some years discard them when not needed. The basic idea was that repeating outfits for more than once is a fashion mistake and so to maintain relevancy, one should aim for the latest looks of their time period. These trendy pieces but in a cheap cost caused an industry-wide revolution towards overwhelming the consumption amount. But this had a serious effect on the garment workers, environment and ultimately on the wallets of the customers (Zamani et al., 2017).The fashion industry was evolving from past few decades and in the present-day context it has created a huge demand in world fashion market. This huge demand of fashion products has forced the retailers to make cheaper products which will carry same quality and design. For this type of demand the retailer has evolved themselves and they follow the key strategies and make their products socially acceptable so they can stay in this world fashion market. (Vertica Bhardwaj & Ann Fairhurst, 2009)

As the demand of this fashion is increasing and fast fashion uses some cheap manufactures. These cheap manufacturing techniques are affecting the whole environment from production to consumption. Water pollution, non-degradable wastes of textiles, chemical pollution, extraction of huge amount of co2 are the main reason behind the disbalance of this environment globally. This fashion industry produces 92 million wastes per year where it uses 79 trillion of liters per year. So, it should maintain a sustainability(Niinimäki et al., 2020)

Fast fashion is the new industrial trend where it reduces the production and distribution time and offer the products as fast as possible. So many well-known brands are now adopting this like Zara, Topshop, H&M etc. (Tsan-Ming Choi).
According to Cachon and Swinney, 2011 there are some key components of fast fashion:

  • Quick response policy which means to reduce the production and distribution time so the demand and supply chain can remain same
  • Change the product collection frequently so the interests will be always at high pick
  • Shorten the product life cycle means from starting of the production to distribute it to the customer
  • Flexible product design so it can match up with the recent trend and market demand

The fashion industry is now looking for a sustainability. The industry is looking for an ethical production of the textiles. This type of sustainable demand of the consumers creates three separate groups of them. The first group is called Self consumers who are basically concerned about the hedonistic needs of themselves, the second group is called social consumers who are basically concerned with the social status, social image, impacts of them in the society, and lastly comes sacrifice consumers who wants to reduce their impact on the society. These three groups have their own point of view and they create a conflict in the concept of fast fashion thus the market sustainable concept always face different points of view and thoughts. (Lisa McNeill Rebecca Moore, 2015)

2.2 Fashion Product life cycle
Like people, a product too has a life cycle. The life cycle of a product refers to span of time starting from the introduction of the product to the customers into the merchandise till the time at which the product is totally withdrawn from the store shelves (Ræbild, 2020). The product life cycle has been segmented into four different stages. The first stage is introduction, followed by its growth, maturity and then finally the last stage which is decline. These are the four main stages of the life cycle of a product. Introduction- This stage involves the substantial funding in marketing campaign and advertising in order to make the consumers aware about the product and the benefits it offers (Goworek et al., 2018).

Growth- The product falls under thesecond stage of growth only if it becomes successful in the introduction stage. This stage is featured by the growing demands of customers, an abrupt increase in the rate of production and expansion regarding its availability.

Maturity- This period of a product is the longest one and is marked by mass appeal. This phase experience intense competition and a fall in product price in order to reach a large market. Products may be further undergoing modifications. There will be vast distribution and stress on reinforcement of product which has established fashion.

Decline- The last stage occurs when the product rapidly goes out of trend. The number of competitors gradually decreases and the profits and sale fall drastically. Left out product’s life cycle may be extended through intensive advertising, enlarging distribution or finding fresh garments (Zhang, 2018).

When the introduction of a product becomes successful in the market, the demand of it increases and as a result the product gains popularity. Launch of new products ultimately replaces the older products. At the time when a new product establishes, companies curb their efforts of marketing because marketing strategy and production cost can affect the life cycle of a product. When demand and need for the product lessens, the product automatically is taken off from the merchandise (Cimatti et al., 2017).

2.3 Labor exploitation in the UK garment
Labor exploitation could be defined as the unfair advantage that one agent takes on another agent. Marxist defines labor exploitation as the social relationship which is based on the difference of potential and capability between employees and their managers (Brooks et al., 2021). According to Adam Smith and Marx, during the analyzation of exploitation, economists are divided on the level of explanation regarding the labor exploitation (Littenberg and Baldwin, 2017). Labor exploitation is considered to be type of slavery in the modern days and is covered under Modern Slavery Act in the UK. The workers, who become victims of exploitation of labor, are compelled to work with minimal wages or sometimes even at zero wages. Labor Exploitation occurs irrespective of gender, age and race (Van Doorn, 2017).

The industry of garment in UK is focused around several hubs. Among them the largest is focused in Leicester which has almost 1,000-1,500 units of factory. The largest among them is Boohoo. Industry sources state it impossible to manufacture the garments requested by the brand Boohoo while it still pays the workers a salary of 8.72 pound per hour which is the minimum national wage. Wages of even 2 to 3 pound per hour is quite common in the factories of Leicester that supply products to Boohoo and different other online shops (Schuessler et al., 2019). In Leicester, most of the fashion industry employees belong from the ethnic minority groups. These workers become victims of verbal abuse as a reason of their language skills, support systems and their status of immigration. There have been several allegations regarding trafficking and modern slavery. The practice of buying and the demands for big brands resulting in the demand for a faster production, low prices as well as short-lead regarding time, has caused illegal wages and exploitation of labor in the garment industry of UK (Vaughn et al., 2019).

2.4Consumer behavior influenced by fast fashion
The fast fashion brands have marketed the concept of their garments in such a way that customers have always treated them as a use-and-throw item (Hicks et al., 2020).They have always treated them as a throw-away item. Yes, clothes cannot be used forever by a person forever and it will eventually wear out or get damaged anyway but, in the case of fast fashion brands, customers are made to believe that they must throw their clothes after a short span of time and buy new ones to keep up with the latest trends in the fashion industry. According to Koivulehto (2017)this creates a sense of unnecessary urgency in the minds of the customers that they have to do it. But if we think logically, it does not make much sense to throw away a cloth before it is damaged or cannot be used anymore. The pace at which new trends keep on emerging, make people shop more and more in order to keep up with the trends. There exists a built-in obsolescence in the fashion products. The fast fashion brands advertise their products in such a manner that customers throw away their old clothes more frequently and are left with a desire to buy new ones even if they do not need it and this attitude ultimately makes them always dissatisfied as the trends keep on moving and newer products keep on coming in a very short span of time. So, it can be safe to state that these brands try to advertise their products by manipulating or influencing the emotions of their customers. Needless to say, they do it quite successfully as the fast fashion industry is one of the top and most valuable industries in the world today. The top designers of different clothes are also critical of this business as the manufacturing of these fast fashion products in mass quantities can be subject to breaching of intellectual property grounds of the professional designers.

2.5 Impact of the environment
According to Niinimäki et al. (2020), The effect that fast fashion brands have on the environment is immense. As the research earlier discuss, that the fast fashion focusses on producing cheaper products at a faster pace and sell as many as possible in the market. This outlook or attitude of the fast fashion companies directly indicate that the environmental corners are more than likely to be compromised. The fast fashion companies use a huge number of toxic substances in the form of dyes that is responsible for polluting clean water all over the world. In fact, the fashion industry itself comes second in terms of the industries that pollute clean water sources and reserves the most (first rank is held by agriculture). The Greenpeace has been conducting many detoxing fashion campaigns and is doing a tremendous job in pressurizing these companies to reduce the use of these toxic dyes that are polluting water in unprecedented volumes. The textiles that are made from cheap raw materials are responsible for environmental pollution as well. The fashion brands use a lot of polyester which is obtained from fossil fuels. The emission of these fossil fuels is responsible for global warming and causes serious climatic instabilities and pollution of the environment.

Polyesters are also responsible for producing large quantities of microfibres. These microfibres are not even treated before disposal and end up in the seas and oceans and result in massive water pollution and harm aquatic life. It is also important to mention that even if the industries use conventional cotton for manufacturing their garments, it requires a lot of water to process them and that puts a lot of pressure on the local water reserves and the communities living there. Other areas that are heavily affected due to manufacturing of these fashion are biodiversity, land filling issues and cleaning up of land. Many processes that are a part of the overall processes of manufacturing these fashion products destroy land resources and the animals that dwell in those areas. According to estimates, about 300 kilograms of chemicals are added to every 900 kilograms of tanned animal hides. Thus, an idea can be made on how much the animals and land are affected due to these practices. According to Peters et al. (2021), another major issue that arises thanks to this industry is the problem of land filling. Every year, huge volumes of unwanted and in many cases, untreated clothing wastes are dumped on lands that fill up area very fast. The usage of more and more synthetic material and polyesters make the wastes more difficult to degrade and mix up with the soil as those materials are not biodegradable. According to Binet et al. (2019), this issue is a major concern for everyone as land is a fixed amount of resource and cannot be increased. In Australia, there is an estimated 500 kilograms of clothing solid wastes dumped in open lands

Animal life is also at stake due to the growing fast fashion business and the way the products are manufactured. According to Long and Nasiry(2019), the amount of harmful, non-biodegradable and toxic wastes that are dumped into the seas and oceans every day result in the direct loss of marine and aquatic biodiversity. In many cases, even after rules and regulations state that the industries must treat the substances before disposal, in reality, do not happen. Animal rights and protection policies are also illegally broken by many companies including top brands who use real fur and leather instead of synthetic or artificial fur and leather. According to Bick et al. (2018), many companies use real fur instead of faux fur to manufacture certain products and that puts the welfare of the animals and biodiversity as a whole at stake. It can be seen that manycompanies prefer to use real fur and not even bother making faux fur because under cheap facilities, making faux fur is not even possible in large volumes and it even costs more to make faux fur instead of real fur. According to Brewer (2019), these kind of attitude and misuse of natural resources by leading as well as small fashion brands are making the planet suffer in so many ways and this needs to be rectified and the environment must be protected at all costs.

Reference List
Aftab, M.A., Yuanjian, Q., Kabir, N. and Barua, Z., 2018. Super responsive supply chain: The case of Spanish fast fashion retailer Inditex-Zara. International Journal of Business and Management, 13(5), p.212.

Bick, R., Halsey, E. and Ekenga, C.C., 2018. The global environmental injustice of fast fashion. Environmental Health, 17(1), pp.1-4.

Binet, F., Coste-Manière, I., Decombes, C., Grasselli, Y., Ouedermi, D. and Ramchandani, M., 2019. Fast fashion and sustainable consumption. In Fast fashion, fashion brands and sustainable consumption (pp. 19-35). Springer, Singapore. Brewer, M.K., 2019. Slow Fashion in a Fast Fashion World: Promoting Sustainability and Responsibility. Laws, 8(4), p.24.

Brooks, W.J., Kaboski, J.P., Li, Y.A. and Qian, W., 2021. Exploitation of labor? Classical monopsony power and labor's share. Journal of Development Economics, 150, p.102627.

Cimatti, B., Campana, G. and Carluccio, L., 2017. Eco design and sustainable manufacturing in fashion: A case study in the luxury personal accessories industry. Procedia Manufacturing, 8, pp.393-400.

Cook, S.C. and Yurchisin, J., 2017. Fast fashion environments: consumer’s heaven or retailer’s nightmare?. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management.

Goworek, H., Oxborrow, L., Claxton, S., McLaren, A., Cooper, T. and Hill, H., 2018. Managing sustainability in the fashion business: Challenges in product development for clothing longevity in the UK. Journal of Business Research.

Hicks, H., Fowler, D.C., Chang, H.J.J.J. and Jai, T.M.C., 2020, December. The Effects of Sustainability Perceptions on Perceived Values and Brand Love for Outdoor versus Fast Fashion Apparel Brands. In International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings (Vol. 77, No. 1). Iowa State University Digital Press. Koivulehto, E.I., 2017. Do social media marketing activities enhance customer equity? A case study of fast-fashion brand Zara.

Littenberg, N. and Baldwin, S., 2017. The ignored exploitation: Labor trafficking in the United States. In Human Trafficking Is a Public Health Issue (pp. 67-91). Springer, Cham.

Long, X. and Nasiry, J., 2019. Sustainability in the fast fashion industry. Available at SSRN 3486502.

Niinimäki, K., Peters, G., Dahlbo, H., Perry, P., Rissanen, T. and Gwilt, A., 2020. The environmental price of fast fashion. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 1(4), pp.189-200.

Peters, G., Li, M. and Lenzen, M., 2021. The need to decelerate fast fashion in a hot climate-A global sustainability perspective on the garment industry. Journal of Cleaner Production, 295, p.126390.

Ræbild, U., 2020. Sustainable collection practices and life cycle strategies: A fashion design perspective. Artifact: Journal of Design Practice, 7(1-2), pp.14-1.

Schuessler, E., Frenkel, S.J. and Wright, C.F., 2019. Governance of labor standards in Australian and German garment supply chains: The impact of Rana Plaza. Ilr Review, 72(3), pp.552-579.

Van Doorn, N., 2017. Platform labor: on the gendered and racialized exploitation of low-income service work in the ‘on-demand’economy. Information, Communication & Society, 20(6), pp.898-914.

Vaughn, L., Balch, A., Johns, J. and Currie, S., 2019. Transparency in supply chains and the lived experiences of workers and their families in the garment sectors of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Journal of the British Academy, 7(s1), pp.35-60. Zamani, B., Sandin, G. and Peters, G.M., 2017. Life cycle assessment of clothing libraries: can collaborative consumption reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion?. Journal of cleaner production, 162, pp.1368-1375.

Zhang, L., 2018, January. Study on Children Product Design And Development Based on Fashion Consumption. In 2017 7th International Conference on Social science and Education Research (SSER2017) (pp. 194-197). Atlantis Press.

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