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Exploring consumers conscious and unconscious online responses towards sustainable fashion online communication practices
The fashion industry is the second biggest global polluter after the oil industry. The clothes, on average, are composed of 40% cotton (requiring massive amounts of water, pesticides and energy spent for processing) and the other 60% composites are complemented by plastics, chemicals and other harmful substances. Due to these social and environmental challenges there is a need for more research into sustainable fashion production and consumption. The fast fashion industry leads consumers to overconsumption by offering stylish clothes in very cheap prices. It appears that the major hindrance for consumers not purchasing sustainable fashion items are: low awareness for sustainable fashion, the relationship between high price and quality of sustainable clothing, transparency, as well as other social structure factors. There were several research and industry efforts that endorsed the consumption of “slow” or sustainable fashion. However, there is lack of exploring consumers’ responses on social media (comments, likes, retweets, shares) towards sustainable fashion. Moreover, many studies state that the human brain most of the times reacts to stimuli through the unconscious, as the conscious occupies only a small amount of the human brain capacity. However little research has been conducted exploring consumers unconscious responses towards sustainable fashion online communication practices. In this context, the aim of this study is to explore consumers’ conscious and unconscious online responses towards sustainable fashion online communication practices. Nowadays, online communication platforms and most specifically social media are essential tools which are ulitised by fashion brands’ as a vital part of their online communication strategies in order to widely promote their products and services. This study is going to focus on the social aspect of sustainable fashion by investigating the consumers’ conscious and unconscious responses to online communication practices towards sustainable fashion. Several studies have explored conscious consumers’ behaviour through psychology, whereas the unconscious behaviour has been studied through neuroscience. Nevertheless, limited research has been conducted comparing and contrasting consumers’ conscious and unconscious online responses towards sustainable fashion. This paper will present a research in progress by adopting a mixed method approach, quantitative neuroscience experiments and qualitative interviews. In order to explore unconscious consumer online responses, neuroscience experiments will be conducted through specific neuroscience tools, such as: EEG and Eye-Tracking. Conscious consumers’ online responses towards sustainable fashion online communication practices will be conducted through qualitative semi-structured interviews with the same sample of people that participated in the neuroscience experiments. In both stages the participants will be exposed to sustainable fashion online content (text, images, videos). The implication of this study will be made on theoretical, methodological and practical level towards consumers’ conscious and unconscious online responses on sustainable fashion online communication practices. On a theoretical level this study will enrich the existing literature review on consumers’ conscious and the unconscious online responses towards online communication practices on sustainable fashion. Additionally, by combining quantitative and qualitative methods this study will advance the research methodology and will generate improved and efficient online communication practices that can be adopted by sustainable fashion brands.