A Comparative Study of Sustainable Marketing Claims in the Organic Food and Textiles Industries

By Kathryn Eason and William Plyler.

Published by Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This examines the use of sustainable marketing claims (SMCs) by the organic food industry using a case study approach in order to better understand the trajectory and growth of sustainable practices in consumer product marketing. Consumers are increasingly aware of sustainability issues and ethical awareness regarding their apparel purchase and consumption activities. Consumer levels of environmental concern have been found to be a predictor of larger purchasing behaviors which in turn have been applied to assumptions about apparel-specific purchasing behaviors (Kim and Damhorst, 1998). This increasing level of awareness and interest reflects a need to examine the use and efficacy of marketing claims surrounding the burgeoning sustainability movement within the apparel industry to understand the success of marketing claims. Growth in organic fiber sales of 10.4% in 2009 over 2008 sales (Organic Trade Association, 2010) suggests that as interest in organic and sustainable practices within the textile and apparel industry increases, more research is needed exploring the way in which these new products will be marketed to consumers. Findings suggest that due to the combination of consumer confusion and individual interest in egoistic SMCs over altruistic goals in ultimate purchasing decisions, marketers need to more clearly focus their message to their intended audience. Apparel manufacturers and producers may choose to have dual SMCs: an overarching philosophical corporate alignment which focuses on the altruistic nature of sustainable practices presented, in tandem with product-specific messages focusing on the egoistic properties such as quality and health benefits.

Keywords: Organic, Sustainable, Food, Textiles

Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 704.989KB).

Dr. Kathryn Eason

Assistant Professor, Division of Design and Merchandising, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

Kathryn A. Eason is an assistant professor in the Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising at West Virginia University. Her research interests include the use of agricultural fiber production as a sustainable economic development practice and the relationship between the processes of dress and identity development.

William Plyler

Graduate Student, Design and Merchandising, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

William F. Plyler is a graduate student in the Division of Design and Merchandising at West Virginia University. His research interests include sustainable and organic agriculture and horticulture, urban farming, building integrated agriculture, and environmental identity.