Price and Novelty Most Important Factors in Consumption of Eco-friendly Apparel, Study Suggests

Sep 13, 2013 04:38 PM EDT

When it comes to buying eco-friendly bamboo apparel, the most important factors influencing a person's decision are price and novelty, according to a new study by researchers at Baylor University.

Based on an online questionnaire of 122 participants, the study suggests that when it comes to consumption, consumers are influenced by emotion, price, functionality, social image and curiosity.

In the case of bamboo, "if I have it and you don't, there's novelty -- and curiosity can make something more appealing," Jay Yoo, an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences, said in a press release.

Social considerations, including whether wearing a bamboo-derived product reflected on one's social status, and function, such as whether bamboo wrinkles easily, had the least bearing on participants' expressed willingness to buy the object, the research showed.

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The study also demonstrated that those who believe one individual can make even a small difference in impacting the environment were more likely to buy the product.

Such findings are important to the fashion industry, which, according to the researchers, is increasingly interested in turning profits in ways that are environmentally-friendly, whether through the use of organic or recycled materials or other means. From an industry standpoint, bamboo is seen as a good option given that it dyes well, feels silkier than cotton and is less expensive than silk.

In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued a consumer alert noting that some pollutants are released in production from bamboo stalks. However, many producers of bamboo textiles are also quick to point out that their products are antimicrobial, processed without chemicals, biodegradable and recyclable.

Ultimately, Yoo says further research of a wider sample needs to be conducted in order to substantiate any of the study's claims, noting that nearly 84 percent of those who participated in the study were female college students with an average age of 21.

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