StudioGerART | Getting consumers to stop buying child-labor produced garment
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Getting consumers to stop buying child-labor produced garment

By Priyanka Kanhai en Gerard Loosschilder

Priyanka is committed to working on globally sustainable solutions and one way is to help reduce child labor in the fashion industry. For her Master thesis, she wants to investigate the consumer acceptance of a Child Labor Index (CLI) label. The label is to make consumers aware of the amount of child labor involved in the production of garments and to nudge consumers to choose garmets with a “better” CLI value; i.e., one that indicates less use of child labor. Over time, the label may make itself redundant if consumers choose to abolish child labor.

Unfortunately, the abandonment of child labor comes at a price. Child labor is also cheap labor, so it can only be abandoned if the consumer is willing to pay more because of increasing production cost. Also, brands may be reluctant to abolish child labor because the need to raise prices or of margin pressure may weaken their position, especially if competitors are slow to follow. That’s why Priyanka also investigated consumer price sensitivity towards garments and the tradeoff between the consumer’s willingness to pay more for a garments with a better CLI value.

“Nudgelab has been a very useful and effective way for building the underlying research of the master thesis. As several students are working with Nudgelab, it is very efficient that you can ask your questions to others as well. Next to that, the use of Nudgelab saves you a lot of valuable time, as you are not required to find out on your own how to create a domain name or find a webhost. For my thesis, Nudgelab was very useful and helped me a lot towards reaching my thesis end goals.” – Priyanka Kanhai

Loosely inspired by the likes of Zalando.com, Priyanka created an experimental garment web shop to study the effects of a CLI label. The web shop offered a choice of five product categories (jackets, jeans, sweaters, socks and shoes) and three items per category each. The items and categories did not change but their prices and CLI values did to study consumer choices and tradeoffs at changes made. Each category had its own base price (e.g., 9 euros for socks) which was the same for the three items in a category. Prices could vary across the items in a category by 0%, 20% and 40% from the base price. In every choice task, a participant had to choose a complete outfit consisting of jacket, jeans, sweater, socks and shoes.

In addition, Priyanka wanted to test the impact of placing marketing materials on the web site. She believed that the uptake is faster and stronger if supported by an on-site marketing campaign. Priyanka followed the principles of the messenger as a nudge. A messenger is someone who communicates information by which we are supposed to be heavily influenced: opinion leaders, celebrities or institutes. As an expert, the messenger is supposed to be inspirational, credible and persuasive and yet she shares the same opinions and beliefs as the recipient.

Priyanka tested two creative elements of a marketing campaign as nudges on the site of the webstore:

  1. Messenger nudge 1: a piece of advertising copy which displayed children and was supported by a text calling out “a child is meant to learn not earn”
  2. Messenger nudge 2: a picture of Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the US and believed to be a credible supported of causes concerning children, together with the picture of nudge 1, suggesting that the text is quoting her. Nudge 2 is considered an elaboration of nudge 1, because contracting a celebrity to do the endorsement is probably more expensive than just the ad.
  3. Nudge 3 is a control assessing the effects of CLI and price variations in absence of the nudges.

Estimating the effect of CLI and price variations (within-subject factors) and the nudges (between-subject factor) required the use of an orthogonal research design and the creation of 49 different versions of the fashion web store. Please find below links to three of the web sites, focused on showing the three nudges.

Each respondent saw three of the 49 web shops, repeating the purchase decision three times. The effect of the nudge was only expected in the first run; after that, the participant was expected to be nudged.

Results of Priyanka’s experiment will be available by the end of June 2017.

CLI Only

Price and CLI vary across for 5 garment categories; three items per garment category; 15 items in total

Marketing statement

The web shop is as CLI only, but then it shows a marketing statement about child labor at the top of the page (“A child is meant to learn not to earn”)

Celebrity endorsement

The web shop is as CLI only but the marketing statement is presented as a quote from Michele Obama by way of celebrity endorsement.

© Priyanka Kanhai, student in the Master of Marketing track, Rotterdam School of Management, cohort 2016-2017, E: priiyankakanhai@gmail.com

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