Historically, the sportswear industry has paid little attention to issues of sustainability. However, today’s consumers are increasingly incorporating sustainability into their purchasing decisions. Sportswear firms have begun to confront these converging realities with sustainable sportswear products. For these new products to maximally succeed, marketers must apply sustainable marketing best practices. This thesis provides a first look at developing these principals through the use of an experimental consumer perception survey featuring twelve unique stimulus advertisements varying across four brands and three constructs: utilitarian, sustainable assertive, and sustainable gentle product claims. The findings of this research suggest that utilitarian claims, in comparison to sustainable claims, promote higher perceptions of sportswear product quality. Assertive claims exhibit a significant negative impact on consumers’ willingness to recommend sustainable sportswear. Finally, the combination of brand, product, and claim add a complexity to sustainable sportswear introduction that must be met with an intimate understanding of consumers.
Author: Christopher Dean Karras, Class of 2020
Advisor: Katrijn Gielens, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School