Ethical consumer behaviour in Germany: the attitude-behaviour gap in the green apparel industry

Marie Wiederhold, Luis F. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Citations (Scopus)


In today's society, the trend of ethical consumerism is undeniable. Yet, even though consumers are ethically concerned, they rarely transform their intentions into a green purchasing behaviour—and this phenomenon is also evident in the sustainable fashion industry. This study aims to understand the prevailing attitude-behaviour gap and explores the barriers that constrain consumers in purchasing green apparel. A total of 13 in-depth interviews were conducted and analysed to the principles of grounded theory. The analysis reveals that the following barriers impede consumption of sustainable fashion: price, availability, knowledge, transparency, image, inertia and consumption habits. The impact of each dimension on consumers' purchase decisions might be of interest to apparel manufacturers and retailers who should implement strategies to encourage eco-conscious apparel acquisition and focus on diminishing these barriers. Accordingly, three major recommendations are made: (a) to concentrate on specific product attributes; (b) to adopt an efficient digital communication strategy; and (c) to make a greater effort on making green apparel attainable. This study contributes to the overall understanding of consumer behaviour in the ethical fashion industry and examines in-depth the purchasing criteria for sustainable fashion for consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • attitude-behaviour gap
  • ethical consumer behaviour
  • fast fashion
  • green apparel
  • sustainable fashion
  • theory of planned behaviour
  • theory of reasoned action


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