Australian consumers believe ethical purchasing is important, but are failing to follow through on their own beliefs. While 87 percent want to change their fashion consumption habits to consume more ethically, just 46 percent indicate they regularly purchase from ethical/sustainable fashion brands. 

The findings come from the new Australian Ethical Consumer Report, released by Christian aid and development organisation Baptist World Aid Australia in collaboration with social research company McCrindle. The report, which draws from national data, seeks to understand the attitudes and beliefs of Australian consumers towards ethical fashion consumption, and uncovers the key motivations for Australians when making purchases. It reveals that most Australians feel a sense of global responsibility and want to change their consumption habits, but cite awareness of ethical brands and expense as the two greatest barriers to doing so.  

Accompanying the report is an online quiz which enables Aussie shoppers to identify their own consumer type from Practical Purchasers, Intentional Individualists, Socially-Minded Shoppers, and Conscious Consumers.  Those wanting to go one step further can score themselves on the Ethical Consumer Index, which measures their behaviour against the 5 A’s of ethical fashion: attitude, agency, awareness, action and advocacy. The 5-minute quiz examines whether Australian consumers are more driven by their personal benefit or the benefit of others, and whether they buy thinking about current needs or future impacts.  

There’s a dissonance between who we want to be, and what we’re doing to get there.

Peter Keegan, Director of Advocacy

‘There’s a dissonance between who we want to be, and what we’re doing to get there. Almost three in four Australians believe ethical fashion and related issues of human rights and environmental sustainability are important, with three in five consumers becoming more aware of the impacts of their purchases over the past three years,’ said Peter Keegan, Director of Advocacy at Baptist World Aid. ‘But a large portion of consumers are still struggling to take those next steps towards purchasing ethically. Tools like the Ethical Fashion Report are created to bridge this gap and help consumers to match intention and action.’  

The generational and gender divides are also apparent when it comes to ethical consumption, with Generation Z females scoring highest across all demographics. This reflects a greater sense of global citizenship by younger generations identified in the survey results, and a greater propensity to engage with news, resources and other information about ethical fashion. 

‘Aussies pride themselves on supporting a ‘fair go for all,’ and this couldn’t be more applicable when examining the issues of injustice surrounding ethical fashion.  We see younger generations, and women, more open to changing their habits to align with this value,’ said Ashley Fell from McCrindle. ‘The ‘My Shopping Type’ online quiz gives consumers a chance to see how they compare against their peers on this important issue, as well as being empowered with steps towards aligning their purchases with their values,’  

The Australian Ethical Consumer Report is available for download here. Baptist World Aid has also been publishing the Ethical Fashion Report and Guide since 2013, which may be downloaded here. For those interested in taking the ‘My Shopping Type Quiz’, it may be accessed here.  

‘This report reveals we have a long way to go when it comes to ethical consumption and understanding the impacts that our purchases have on the environment and people around the world,’ said Keegan.  ‘But with tools like the Ethical Fashion Guide and My Shopping Type Quiz, we can take those next steps towards becoming more ethical consumers.’ 

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