Consumer Awareness and Fast Fashion. Information on consumer perceptions of fashion retailers

Bachelor Thesis, 2020

70 Pages


Table of Contents:


Chapter 1: Introductio
1.1 Background
1.2 Rationale and research question
1.3 Research and methodology
1.4 Research Aims
1.5 Research Objectives

Chapter 2: Literature Revi
2.1 Ethical Practices of Manufacturing Companies
2.1.1 Bangladesh
2.2 Working Conditions and Labour Rights
2.2.1 Primark
2.2.2 Zara and Bershka
2.2.3 H&M
2.2.4 Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing (PLT)
2.2.5 Nike
2.2.6 Gucci
2.2.7 Ralph Lauren
2.2.8 Victoria's Secret
2.2.9 Louis Vuitton
2.3 The Psychology of Buying
2.3.1 Psychodynamic Theory
2.3.2 Cognitive Dissonance Theory
2.4 Fast Fashion
2.5 Consumer Consciousness and Marketing Techniques
2.6 Conclusion

Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Question
3.3 Research Paradigm
3.4 Research design
3.4.1 Demographics
3.4.2 Opinions
3.4.3 Values
3.5 Research Sample
3.6 Data Collection
3.7 Data analysis
3.8 Ethical Underpinnings
3.9 Methodology Limitations
3.10 Conclusion

Chapter 4: Data Disp
4.1 Demographics
4.2 Perceptions and Understandings
4.3 Opinions
4.4 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Data Discussion and Findi
5.1 Ethics
5.2 Environment
5.3 Consumer perceptions and misconceptions
5.4 Buyer Psychology
5.5 Further research topics
5.6 Conclusion

Chapter 6: Conclusions and Recommendation
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Summary of main findings
6.3 Recommendations
6.3.1 Unethical fashion
6.3.2 Highlight environmental impacts
6.3.3 Luxury does not mean ethical
6.4 Limitations of the study
6.5 Personal Reflection

List of references


Appendix 1: Questionnaire

Appendix 2: Excel Coding and Thematic Analysis

Appendix 3: Ethical Clearance Application


I would like to take this opportunity to express how truly grateful I am to the people who supported me in carrying out this research project. I am grateful to my family for the unconditional support, patience, and motivation along the way. I am also extremely thankful to all of the people that partook in the questionnaire and provided valuable information which was essential to this dissertation. Without this information, this study would not have been achievable.

I am sincerely grateful and indebted to my supervisor Dr Siobhan Killion for her continuous support, expertise, and motivation throughout this project. She has guided this dissertation while also bringing humour on occasions to lighten the mood. Throughout this project and my time at TU Dublin I have been lucky to work with the academics at TU Dublin who have helped me develop my thinking and practical skills over the past four years. I am truly grateful for your support.


I declare that the work described in this dissertation is, except where otherwise stated, entirely my own work and has not been submitted as an exercise for a degree at this or any other higher education institution.

Signed: Una Glennon

Permission to lend and/or copy

I agree that Institute of Technology Blanchardstown Library may lend or copy this dissertation upon request.

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Gender

Figure 2: Age

Figure 3: Occupation

Figure 4: Select the ethical brands

Figure 5: Most popular brands

Figure 6: Ethically aware retailers

Figure 7: Consumer perception

Figure 8: Consumer perceptions - yes

Figure 9: Consumer perception - No


This research project explores the consumer awareness of fast fashion amongst Irish consumers aged between eighteen and twenty-five. The aim of this research is to explore the level of awareness consumers have regarding fast fashion. Additionally, it intends to explore what the term “fast fashion” means to young Irish consumers. Furthermore, this research aims to provide information on consumer perceptions of fashion retailers. Moreover, the research also intends to highlight whether those perceptions play a role in the buyer decision process.

The key findings suggest that consumers fail to associate the ethical and environmental concerns that are synonymous with the fast fashion industry. Moreover, the research also exposed a failure that there is a disconnect between the term fast fashion and the manufacturing methods. Fast fashion and sweatshop labour are not mutually exclusive terms yet fast fashion as a term does not seem to carry the burden of its manufacturing origin. It was found that consumers have intentions of shopping more ethically and sustainably. However, there appears to be several misconceptions in what is currently considered ethical fashion among consumers which would affect the consumers ability to make an informed purchase decision. Cognitive dissonance being the act of consumers distancing themselves from purchase decisions that contradict their morals to avoid the feeling of discomfort was evident in this study. This research also found that the practice of greenwashing was present in fast fashion retailers advertising which does not portray the true environmental and social impacts of a product to the consumer.

Key words: Fast Fashion; Unethical Fashion; Consumer Awareness; Luxury Fashion; Greenwashing; Cognitive Dissonance.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background

Fashion is a form of expression. It is used to show the world the personality and creativity of the person wearing it, or the person that has designed it (Simmel, 1957). It is a form of free speech that appears in many study areas from history to cultural studies. It is traditional, modern, and futuristic and has eluded many theorists from Karl Marx to Sigmund Freud in understanding its logic (Rocamora and Smelik, 2016). Luxury fashion brands have set the trends while fast fashion companies have followed closely behind them, quickly turning over every new trend that appears. Fast fashion allows consumers to express their creativity without the luxury price tag (Joung, 2014; McClure and Bradley, 2016). From production to representation, fashion allows for a reflection on many cultural and social matters (Rocamora and Smelik, 2016). The conditions in which fast fashion is made is often very poor compared to the working conditions in western society (Absar, 2001; Hobson, 2013; McClure and Bradley, 2016). While the word “sweat shop” instantly triggers negative connotations amongst consumers, does “fast fashion” do the same?

1.2 Rationale and research question

This research question will be in the area of consumer knowledge, corporate social responsibility, and ethics in the fast fashion industry. This is a vast industry. The focus of this research will predominantly be on western cultured consumers' knowledge of this industry. This study is relevant in today's markets as consumer behaviour evolves and is becoming more driven by ethical and environmental concerns. Consumers are learning the impacts of their purchases and are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions with key social and environmental issues in mind (Chatzidakis, 2015). Therefore, the research question is:

‘An exploration of consumer awareness andfast fashion

1.3 Research and methodology

This research is theoretical and is based on a mixed methods approach. Qualitative and quantitative research will be conducted in the form of a questionnaire in order to gain knowledge of consumer awareness of fast fashion and whether perceptions of a retailer influence the buyer decision process.

1.4 Research Aims

This study is being carried out in order to gauge the level of awareness consumers have about fast fashion. This research aims to obtain a better understanding of current consumers knowledge regarding the production of high-street clothing. To assess consumers understanding of the term “fast fashion”. To explore the ethical Implications that arise from the production of fast fashion and if such considerations play any part in consumer choice.

1.5 Research Objectives

The research objectives will be set out as follows:

Carry out primary research by designing a mixed methods questionnaire and distributing it randomly among a purposive sample of 18 to 25-year olds in order to determine consumer awareness of fast fashion. Conduct secondary research of various journal articles, case studies and news articles in order to develop an understanding of the research available surrounding this topic as well as build a foundation for further research of consumer awareness of fast fashion. This research will also identify the key themes and issues that arise from the analysis of the questionnaire in order to formulate recommendations.

Chapter one outlines the foundation of this research. Fast fashion is defined as well as a background overview of the topic area given. This chapter provides an insight into the rationale of this research and why the researcher feels it is important to conduct this research. Possible findings and outcomes have been outlined as well as the aims and objectives of this study. Chapter two will entail a literature review, critically evaluating the current knowledge and theories of consumer awareness within fast fashion. Chapter three will provide the methodology and framework used to carry out this research. Chapter four presents the findings of this research. Furthermore, chapter five will provide a discussion of the findings and areas for further research with frameworks. To conclude, chapter six will propose recommendations, an overview of the findings, and a reflection piece.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The purpose of this review of literature is to explore the current research of the topic ‘Consumer awareness and fast fashion'. This review will begin with ethical practices of manufacturing companies. Although many developing countries sustain their economies through such industries, this work will focus on Bangladesh as the main example. Following this, fast fashion will be defined. Subsequently, this review will look at theories of the psychology of buying in order to understand the journey of thought of consumers. Concluding this review, consumer consciousness and marketing practices will be reviewed.

2.1 Ethical Practices of Manufacturing Companies

The ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh is completely export oriented. This has significantly boosted the country's economy steadily every year. The garment manufacturing industry has multiplied exports in Bangladesh from 31 million dollars in the 80's to 19 billion dollars in 2012 (Zhang et al., 2014). Moreover, these manufacturing companies have increased the employment of the indigenous population from 120 thousand workers to over 4 million in that thirty-year interim (Zhang et al., 2014). There has been an influx of fulltime female workers to Dhaka (Bangladesh) who are the majority of workers in the clothing manufacturing industry (Absar, 2001).

Garment factories are seldom to be found in developed countries as it is not cost effective (Debter, 2018). Globalisation has allowed them to re-locate to countries that are trying to achieve an improved standard of living (Debter, 2018). Inditex, a company that supplies clothing to fashion retailers are one of the leading global apparel manufacturing companies (Debter, 2018). Although Inditex outline on their website that they are compliant with all labour and safety regulations, they have been named as culprits in recent factory fires that have resulted in deaths. This was due to minimum safety requirements not being met such as sewing machine filling rooms to overcapacity, fire exits being locked, and bars on windows preventing escape (Debter, 2018).

2.1.1 Bangladesh

Bangladesh has some attractive incentives for foreign direct investment. The main incentive is the low minimum wage allowing the ready-made garment industry to increase their profits (Absar, 2001). Bangladesh is densely populated with approximately 1200 people per square kilometre and the majority of the population sustain on incomes far below the poverty line (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2019; Zhang et al, 2014). Frequently, the working conditions in these areas are below the standard required by government law in developed countries. Governing bodies in countries such as Bangladesh tend to be less restrictive to these compliance issues than to lose the income generated from these industries as they are in competition with other developing countries (Berik, 2017).

2.2 Working Conditions and Labour Rights

Garment workers often work in unsafe working conditions ranging from factory fires to building collapses. Fire exits are frequently locked to avoid theft and to keep unions or inspectors from entering the building unannounced and additionally contacting the workforce (Absar, 2001). Workers do not always have a choice as to whether or not to work in unsafe environments as there are few alternatives (Absar, 2001; Zhang et al., 2014). Other garment manufacturing practices such as sand blasting jeans or dyeing clothes can leave workers with long term illnesses which prevent them from being able to continue working. As a result of not working, they and their families can no longer afford to survive (Absar, 2001; Akgun et al., 2005; Zhang et al., 2014).

The trade unions in Bangladesh are weak because they are male dominated while the workers are exclusively female (Absar, 2001). They are also quite weak in achieving the objectives of a union as they only respond to groups of twenty employees regarding wages and require a payment prior to any engagement and without any guarantee of success (Absar, 2001).

Arguably, a union that will only represent groups (not individuals) and requires onerous sums of money from each member to engage in dispute resolution, will leave the individual worker in a very vulnerable position. Female workers in Bangladesh are expected to work a 15-hour day and then find 19 others who are willing to approach a union organisation in order to initiate a change in treatment. Workers' rights in such regimes are a distant dream. An improvement in working conditions requires not just a strong union presence but also a conscious consumer base (Absar, 2001). Absar (2001) states ‘It would be difficult to see working conditions improve with a weak union presence' (p. 13). These manufacturing methods and practices are known as fast fashion.

2.2.1 Primark

Primark is known for its inexpensive clothes. Previously, they were one of the biggest culprits for unethical working practices and unsafe working conditions in the manufacturing of their clothes (Hendriskz, 2017). Recently Primark have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the contractors that they hire to produce their clothes are fully compliant with safety regulations (Hendriskz, 2017). Primark have put several regulations in place to make it impossible for contracted clothing manufacturers to abuse working conditions. The regulations force these fast fashion manufacturers to be more transparent and clearly outline safety procedures for their workers (Hendriskz, 2017).

The Tailored wage report grades brands on their ethical behaviours regarding working conditions from A to E. In the 2019 Tailored Wage report, Primark was graded with an E grade as they show no evidence of paying a living wage to garment workers or having an intention of working toward this goal. Comparing this to five years earlier, the Tailored Wage report 2014 states that Primark are working on implementing a living wage but supply little evidence of this (Bryher, 2019; McMullen et al., 2014).

2.2.2 Zara and Bershka

Inditex is the 3rd largest clothing supplier in the world according to the Tailored wage report 2019. They supply clothes to Zara, Bershka and other well-known clothing brands such as Pull&Bear. As it stands with Tailored Wage Report 2019, Inditex has been graded an E as they cannot supply any evidence of paying a living wage to any of their garment workers or any evidence to show that they are working toward this goal. Comparing this result to the Tailored wage report 2014, Inditex were considered one of the most ethically aware brands as they had evidence showing that they were working toward implementing a living wage for all employees (Bryher, 2019; McMullen et al., 2014).

2.2.3 H&M

H&M offer a conscious line of clothing. Clothing made with at least 50% recycled material qualify as being conscious (Ehrsam, 2016). In 2015, H&M manufactured over 600 million items of clothing with a goal to expand 10-15% every year (Ehrsam, 2016). Regarding ethical working practices, H&M outline a goal to pay every worker a fair living wage but have been criticised for being unrealistic as the prices of their clothes are cut to cost and therefore do not financially allow for the company to achieve and maintain this goal (Ehrsam, 2016). In the Tailored Wage report 2019, H&M were graded with an E grade as they were unable to provide evidence that they are paying a living wage to any of their garment workers despite having signed a voluntary agreement (ACT agreement) that aims to negotiate wages of workers between unions and suppliers in 2016. However, H&M have become more transparent by supplying a list to the public through their website allowing customers to link clothing items to the specific factories where they were made and a list of aggregate vs minimum wages which are notably still below a living wage (Bryher, 2019; McMullen et al., 2014).

2.2.4 Boohoo and Pretty Little Thing (PLT)

Boohoo and daughter company PLT were graded with an E grade by the Tailored Wage Report 2019 as they show no evidence of paying a living wage to garment workers or intentions to reach this goal. Moreover, Boohoo state in their modern slavery statement that all workers must receive a living wage but contradict this in their code of conduct stating that suppliers are only obliged to pay the minimum wage. Boohoo have been found to be currently paying workers in developed countries (Leicester, UK) 3 GBP an hour to manufacture clothing. Although Boohoo have been reluctant in correspondence with the Tailored Wage Report, they have published a list of suppliers. Boohoo have implemented an internal complaints system allowing them to further investigate complaints of violations of freedom and collective bargaining rights in their production line, although this is confidential (Bryher, 2019; McMullen et al., 2014).

2.2.5 Nike

Nike is a high street fast fashion retailer that offer clothing that is priced higher than previous fast fashion brands mentioned. In the Tailored wage report, Nike is graded similarly with an E grade as they show no evidence of paying workers a living wage. Nike did however achieve an 11% increase in wages for workers in Thailand in 2017. Nike has also achieved a 33% decrease in suppliers within the past five years and implemented a cap on temporary or short-term contract of suppliers at 15%. Nike have recently been commended for their transparency as they have published a document showing gender of workers, migrant worker numbers and location of suppliers to the public. Nike has signed a freedom of association and collective bargaining agreement in Indonesia which allows suppliers to actively negotiate and chose who to work with as opposed to exclusively working with one brand (Bryher, 2019; McMullen et al., 2014).

2.2.6 Gucci

Gucci is considered a luxury brand. The Tailored Wages report 2019 have graded Gucci with a C grade as they have shown evidence of paying 25% of their workers a living wage. Gucci state that 95% of their products are made in Italy. The luxury fashion brand has implemented a number of benefits to workers in Italy such as health care, paid parental leave as well as a minimum wage to all workers. However, Gucci have not supplied their supplier list and all factory locations are confidential. In terms of transparency, all of Gucci's claimed efforts to provide a fair working wage, to increase the minimum wage and to implement freedom of association and collective bargaining with unions have all been private meetings. Comparing this to 6 years previously, Gucci was criticised in the Tailored Wages report 2014 for making no effort to ensure a living wage was being paid to workers (Bryher, 2019; McMullen et al., 2014).

2.2.7 Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is considered a luxury brand in the fashion industry. The clothing is produced in the same countries as Primark, H&M and Zara, often in the same factories. The workers that make these garments have been found to be earning less than one euro per hour and denied contractual days off. However, since extensive media coverage of these issues, Ralph Lauren has moved some of their operations to Italy but do not disclose how much of their operations have moved (Ross, 2012). Low cost production does not always translate to inexpensive, low quality clothing (Passariello, 2013).

2.2.8 Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret is a luxury lingerie brand. They contract their production to factories in China, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. These factories have been exposed for forcing workers to work overtime, low standards for health and safety and ostracising workers that form a union. Tasini as cited in Jankowski (2016) states that Victoria’s Secret garment workers work for approximately fifteen hours a day and receive one day of holidays every three months (2011).

2.2.9 Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton is a well-known for their luxury handbags. Originally these handbags were handmade, exclusive, and symbolized the designer’s creativity. However, today they are mass produced in factories located in China, India and Romania but assembled in France allowing the luxury brand to label their products “Made in France”. Previously, Louis Vuitton handbags were said to take twenty to thirty workers to produce one bag over an eight-day period which is reflected in their high price. Today, Louis Vuitton profits from low cost labour and mass production while charging the same high price (Armitage and Roberts, 2016; Modigliani, 2008).

2.3 The Psychology of Buying

The psychology of buying is defined by how buyers comprehend information and form perceptions and how those perceptions are altered by experience and thus impact the buyer decision process (Tybout and Artz, 1994). More recently, the definition of consumer psychology has broadened from explicitly purchasing to include the use and disposal of a product. (Solomon et al., 2016). Consumers are seen as rational decision makers that prioritise self-interest (Bray, 2008). Theories of buyer psychology are often derived from cognitive and social psychology as well as economics and sociology (Tybout and Artz, 1994).

The buyer decision process model describes the journey of a consumers purchase from the recognition of a problem to the post purchase behaviour (Kotler and Armstrong, 2013). The model outlines five stages of a buyer's decision; Problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post purchase behaviour (Kotler and Armstrong, 2013). This model has helped companies understand the influences in the buyer decision process and adapt their marketing strategy to increase their chances of being in the purchasing decision stage (Munthiu, 2009).

2.3.1 Psychodynamic Theory

The psychodynamic theory suggests that many of the decisions made by consumers are driven by instinct and the unconscious mind (Westen, 1998; Bray, 2008, Albright, 2011). This theory acknowledges consumer decisions and purchasing choices lack logic and satisfy an unconscious need or want of the consumer (Bray, 2008; Solomon et al., 2006; Westen, 1998). Sigmund Freud based this theory upon three parts of the brain: the id which seeks instant gratification, the superego which is the rationale, and the ego which is the mediator between the id and superego (Solomon et al., 2016). This theory suggests that buyer decisions are strongly based on emotions rather than a robotic solution for a problem. Research has shown that consumers decisions can be based on morals and ethics (Chatzidakis, 2015).

2.3.2 Cognitive Dissonance Theory

The cognitive dissonance theory was first coined by Leon Festinger in 1957 (Harmon-Jones and Harmon-Jones, 2007). This theory describes the discomfort experienced when a consumer's purchasing decisions contradict their morals and beliefs and the method consumers use to distance themselves from the unpleasant feeling (Harmon-Jones and Harmon-Jones, 2007). In order to lesson this unpleasant feeling consumers experience, they will justify their purchase decisions by engaging in “psychological work” (Harmon-Jones and Harmon-Jones, 2007 p. 7). This psychological work will involve reasoning to support the purchase behaviour because of the conscious dilemma (Harmon-Jones and Harmon-Jones, 2007).

2.4 Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is defined as ‘low-cost clothing that mimics luxury fashion trends' (Joy et al., 2012, p. 273). The manufacturing of clothing for fast fashion retailers such as H&M and Primark are carried out in developing countries such as Bangladesh (Joy et al., 2012). The practice of fast fashion significantly benefits large companies involved as they have the logistics to produce garments at a low cost. Companies such as Primark and H&M then sell the garments in mass quantities to consumers at an affordable price (Joy et al., 2012).

A study carried out in 2013 found that consumers justify purchasing fast fashion with one reason being that it stimulates the economy by promoting consumerism and creating jobs in developing countries. Consumers also voiced that it gives everyone access to the latest fashion trends despite income levels. Consumers did however acknowledge from an ethical point of view that purchasing fast fashion contributes to unfair labour and working conditions (Collett et al., 2013). Research has found that consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 are more interested in consuming products which are socially and ethically responsible (Lam et al., 2016). The target audience for fast fashion retailers are largely consumers aged 18 and 24 who are often students with low incomes (Lam etal., 2016). Females of this age group are found to shop in fast fashion retailers more often than any other demographic group. (Lam etal., 2016).

Consumers consider fast fashion to be of low quality which they are willing to accept for the affordable price and accessibility (Collett et al., 2013; Su and Chang, 2017). Students believe that there is value added in the trendy, limited edition and large variety that fast fashion retailers offer. Young consumers are willing to sacrifice premium quality for a lower price and more variety and still feel satisfied with their purchase decision and loyalty to these fast fashion brands (Su and Chang, 2017).

2.5 Consumer Consciousness and Marketing Techniques

The sudden shift from not acknowledging ethics to partaking in ethical practices of fast fashion retailers is due to the growing awareness of consumers. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the social and environmental impacts their purchases have and are choosing to change their habits (Hashmi et al., 2016). The two main impacts are the human cost of fast fashion i.e. the garment workers living and working conditions, and the environment (Hashmi et al., 2016). The alternative contemporary choice people are taking to shop sustainably is shopping second hand or pre-loved (Hashmi et al., 2016). Shopping sustainably for clothing has become especially popular among young consumers aged 18 to 27 (Hashmi et al., 2016). Sustainable shopping has become popular for several reasons; it is fashionable, it is more economically efficient and environmentally friendly (Hashmi et al., 2016) Many well-known retailers are acknowledging a development in consumer awareness. These retailers have started highlighting through their marketing, the actions they are taking to combat unethical and unsustainable practices. Research has found that consumer attitudes can be altered by ethical marketing (Ehrsam, 2016). In many instances this advertising is known as greenwashing. Greenwashing is the advertising of incorrect or insufficient information so as to display an environmentally aware image of the organisation in order to attract an environmentally and ethically aware audience (Furlow, 2010; Magali and Burbano, 2011). As previously stated, consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to purchase socially conscious products (Harmon-Jones and Harmon-Jones, 2007; Lam et al., 2016). With this in mind, fast fashion retailers focussing on this demographic group should alter their manufacturing practices and highlight this through their marketing in order to alter their target audiences perceptions of them so as to avoid greenwashing (Ehrsam, 2016; Harmon-Jones and Harmon- Jones, 2007; Lam et al., 2016).

Influence marketing involves manipulating the word of mouth aspect of promotion. This requires companies to endorse people who have a large following of a specific group of consumers on social media platforms such as Instagram. These people are known as influencers or micro influencers (Brown and Fiorella, 2013). In order to reach their target audience of young people, Primark base their marketing in Ireland exclusively on social media platforms and micro influencers (Duff, 2017). Primark have a fanbase of 300,000 people on Facebook and 200,000 people on Instagram where they regularly advertise their products (Duff, 2017). Micro Irish influencers are sponsored by Primark by having items of clothing sent to them to promote on their social media platforms (Duff, 2017).

The influencers Primark sponsor have very large audiences of young people (Duff, 2017). Having access to this additional large audience allows the fast fashion retailer to portray their products through an opinion that these consumers trust. Research has shown that consumers are more likely to purchase a product on word of mouth recommendation from an influencer they trust rather than paid traditional or digital marketing (Duff, 2017). Although Primark have a larger following than the influencers that they sponsor, the unanimous following of all these influencers combined adds vastly to their reach (Duff, 2017).

Primark are not the only fast fashion retailer to participate in influence marketing. Many of these influencers do not solely promote Primark clothing either. Brands such as Pretty Little Thing (PLT) also endorse several celebrities in their advertising and micro influencers to showcase their clothes on social media (Duffett, 2017).

2.6 Conclusion

Fast fashion is the practice of producing clothing at low cost and selling it at an affordable price to consumers. This allows consumers to access fashionable, trendy clothing without having to spend high amounts of money. The manufacturing of this clothing involves unethical practices which causes consumers to distance themselves from their purchases, known as cognitive dissonance, especially consumers between eighteen and twenty-four years of age. In order to understand the context of fast fashion, the economic advantages and ethical manufacturing methods have been explored. To understand consumer awareness of fast fashion, three theories of buyer psychology have been explained including the buyer decision process model, Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory and Freud's psychodynamic theory which is widely recognised in the literature of this topic. This review looked at several fashion retailers, their manufacturing, and marketing processes.

The following chapter will outline the methodologies used in order to carry out this research as well as the ethical underpinnings and methodology limitations.

Chapter 3: Methodology

3.1 Introduction

This research had several objectives: to build a foundation for this research by examining various secondary sources, to understand the consumer awareness of fast fashion and to assess whether consumer perceptions of retailers impacts the buyer decision process. It is critical that the appropriate research method is chosen in order to capture accurate data. This chapter focuses on presenting to the reader the methods chosen to gather knowledge for this research. The theoretical framework and the methods used will be explored and assessed in this chapter. Furthermore, the advantages of qualitative and quantitative research methods will be discussed. This research involved a mixed method approach for data collection which includes questionnaires combining demographic, Multiple choice, rating, and open-ended questions. Members of the public between the ages of 18 and 25 were invited to participate in this research through several social media platforms. Ergo, this chapter will examine probability sampling methods.

3.2 Research Question

“An exploration of consumer awareness andfast fashion”

3.3 Research Paradigm

Consumer attitude research involves the investigation and understanding of consumer behaviour phenomena, derived from social and psychological experience (Schwarz, 2006). This research applied various paradigms in order to formulate questions and arguments presented. Thus, data was collected through primary research. New research allows the researcher to enhance the validity of their arguments. Furthermore, the researcher will gain comprehensive knowledge of the information gathered (Krosnick, 1999).

This research paper used a mixed methods approach. Mixed method research incorporated viewpoints from both qualitative and quantitative research in order to answer research questions (Johnson et al., 2007). Mixed method research has advanced recently and has also been labelled the “third paradigm” (Johnson etal., 2007). A mixed method research approach can aid in eliminating bias (Johnson et al., 2007).

3.4 Research design

Theoretical triangulation combines various research methods in order to enhance the validity and understanding of the data (Thurmond, 2001). Theoretical triangulation was used for the purpose of this research project by carrying out a questionnaire combining questions which derived qualitative and quantitative responses. Qualitative data is defined as understanding to the extent, the complexity of the research topic with the use of detailed answers, often interview based (Hox and Boeiji, 2005). Quantitative research involves data that can be interpreted numerically (Hox and Boeiji, 2005). Due to a three-month time restraint, a mixed methods questionnaire was considered the most appropriate method to gather research. Primary research gathered was then compared to secondary research as outlined in the review of literature further demonstrating theoretical triangulation.

Questionnaires are a significant form of empirical quantitative research as well as a form of investigative qualitative research (Krosnick, 1999). They are a commonly used research method in gathering information of consumer awareness and perceptions (Schwarz, 2006). Questionnaires are the preferred method to gathering information regarding consumer attitudes as demonstrated by several authors in this field (Duff, 2017; Joung, 2014; McNeill and Moore, 2015). Questionnaires are a beneficial form of data collection for this research as they allow consumers to voice their opinions and concerns anonymously (Waidi, 2016). Participants (consumers) were enabled to share their contextual knowledge about the research topic in a flexible manner. Questionnaires are a form of experimental research designed to test a hypothesis (Schwarz and Scheuring, 1988). Although, they have several drawbacks such as interpretation; The respondent may interpret the question differently to that which the researcher intended. An additional drawback with this method is that the researched may omit critical information when formulating the questionnaire which may be essential to the initial research question or arguments. Additionally, Participants may not be truthful in their answers which is difficult to evaluate, causing questionnaires to lack legitimacy (Hox and Boeiji, 2005).

3.4.1 Demographics

The first three questions consisted of demographic questions such as age, gender, and occupation. A multiple-choice question on occupation was placed to re-enforce the age restriction. The possible answers included student, full time employment, part time employment, not in paid work and unemployed. Participants could select multiple answers. For example, participants had the ability to choose “student” and another answer or just choose “student”.

Gender classification allowed for the investigation of gender differences which created a subgroup when analysing results. Participants could choose male, female or type in another gender avoiding restriction to two genders.


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Consumer Awareness and Fast Fashion. Information on consumer perceptions of fashion retailers
Dublin Institute of Technology
International Business
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ISBN (eBook)
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Fast fashion, sustainability, ethics, manufacturing
Quote paper
Una Glennon (Author), 2020, Consumer Awareness and Fast Fashion. Information on consumer perceptions of fashion retailers, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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