Sustainability and Social Responsibility

A Look at the Label: Exploring Consumer Perspectives on Communicating Sustainability Information

  • Annie Williams orcid logo (University of North Carolina Greensboro)
  • Nancy J. Hodges (University of North Carolina Greensboro)


Although existing research indicates that many consumers are interested in knowing how their clothing is made, there is a lack of knowledge about what aspects of sustainability resonate with consumers and why. Moreover, studies have not fully examined the methods of communication preferred by consumers, and how such communication might impact their apparel consumption decision-making. Thus, the purpose of this study was to address these gaps by exploring such issues from the perspective of the consumer. In-depth interviews were conducted with twenty participants focusing on the dimensions of sustainability and how these dimensions would be best communicated to consumers. Three emergent themes were used to structure the interpretation: Its Importance is Relative, Communication Mode vs. Message, and Increasing the Interest Level. Results offer insight into the aspects of sustainability that resonate with consumers, the ways by which consumers prefer to receive apparel-related sustainability information, and the potential role of sustainability labels in consumer decision making. Further research is needed that examines the effectiveness of communication strategies for encouraging socially responsible consumption, and particularly strategies that involve messages that are meaningful to consumers.

Keywords: apparel consumption, consumer behavior, eco-label, social label, sustainability label, label, sustainability

How to Cite:

Williams, A. & Hodges, N. J., (2020) “A Look at the Label: Exploring Consumer Perspectives on Communicating Sustainability Information”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 77(1). doi:

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Published on
28 Dec 2020
Peer Reviewed