Nueno and Quelch [1
] (p. 177) reported that “Historically, the term “luxury” was applied to items that were both rare and scarce and available only to the elite few”. The essence of luxury is a “symbolic desire (albeit often repressed) to belong to a superior class, which everyone will have chosen according to their dreams, because anything that can be a social signifier can become a luxury”. Luxury products (i.e., products or services) are usually those which have the highest price and quality, providing the consumer with an outstanding experience or sense of prestige (e.g., watches, jewellery, high-specification interiors, high fashion, exclusive resorts, and top restaurants, as well as rare and enjoyable experiences) and evoke perceptions of rarity, privilege, and an exceptional life [2
]. One of the main reason for purchasing and consuming luxury products is self-enhancement (status, success, and prestige), which mainly refers to the pursuit of self-interest and one’s own relative success over others [3
]. Luxury goods often serve as signs of membership to the affluent class and their public exposure should evoke both the envy and appreciation of the lower classes. Thus, they improve the self-image of their owners. The social and hedonic values encompassed in luxury goods are one of the most important reasons for which people buy and publicly expose them [4
]. According to Veblen (1899, in [4
]) the main reason for the consumption of luxury products is not to satisfy needs, but to display the luxury items publicly, hence signaling the material affluence of their owners. Leibenstein claimed that “consumers of luxury products are often charged with trying to impress others, with trying to be highly visible. The purchase of luxury goods would then not result from an intrinsic appreciation of the goods but rather from snob and bandwagon effects“ [5
] (p. 18). For luxury consumers, a luxury is more than a logo; it is an appreciation of fine work, fine craftsmanship, creativity, and the making of a legend [6
2.1. Luxury and Luxury Products
Luxury products have, for a long time, been considered superfluous or targeted to a very small group of individuals, enabling them to differentiate from the crowd. However, at present, “the word “luxury” carries a much less negative connotation”. Nevertheless, the idea that “luxury products are sophisticated, expensive, have a reasonably high quality, and bear a very strong and attractive brand name” persists in the mind of the consumer [7
] (p. 2). According to Berry [8
] (p. 4) “luxury might seem to imply exclusiveness” and “luxury goods are seemingly to be associated with expensiveness and rarity.”
In generally, “luxury” is associated with the following notions: (1) perceived excellent quality: a luxury product should look better and should have a clear and generous warranty, sophisticated packaging, and a higher price; (2) very high price: the perception of high price could be established on the basis of the absolute value of the price or by comparison with non-luxury substitutes; (3) scarcity and uniqueness: these are closely associated with the previous two characteristics, supreme quality and high price—luxury products cannot be mass-produced because of their special components, uncommon nature of the skills essential to their manufacturing and delivery process, and the resulting higher price; (4) aesthetics and polysensuality: one of the aspects of luxury which involves strong aesthetic appeal—aesthetics are not only expected from the goods themselves, but also from the context in which they are presented and from the people who consume the goods; (5) hedonism
: a luxury product should be pleasant to own and use and provide a personal sense of satisfaction (most consumers describe their consumption of luxury as a highly hedonic experience, which can affect all their senses); (6) ancestral heritage and personal history: in the consumer’s mind, to be luxurious, products and services must have a long history and elaborate processes. In addition, consumption should respect tradition; (7) superfluousness or uselessness: luxury products are not considered to be necessary for survival; (8) exclusivity: a luxury product should be rare and slightly difficult to acquire; and (9) brand image: it should be unique, different, and strongly positioned [5
]. The abovementioned notions could be considered the different dimensions of luxury. However, luxury is not static, it changes and evolves with the fulfillment of desires and inevitably related beliefs, which are subsequently filled “with further qualitative adjustments and improvements” [8
] (p. 18).
Chevalier and Gutsatz [7
] defined the criteria that different individuals use to distinguish one luxury product from another: (1) in terms of perception,
the consumers decide what is and what is not a luxury object; (2) in terms of production,
the manufacturers themselves decide whether they want their products to be part of the luxury world; and (3) in terms of social and individual behavior
, a luxury product is described by sociologists as an item that makes its user stand out from crowd. Generally, there are four principal categories of luxury goods: (1) fashion (couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories), (2) perfumes and cosmetics, (3) wines and spirits, and (4) watches and jewellery. However, the offered luxury product categories have continued to expand [9
have been “defined in terms of their excellent quality, high transaction value, distinctiveness, exclusivity and craftsmanship“ [10
] (p. 4). A luxury brand “is perceived to be the extreme end of the prestige-brand category”, which consists of three types of prestigious brands: upmarket brands, premium brands, and luxury brands [11
]. A luxury brand is a means of social distinction and social stratification, which “lies at the confluence between culture and social success”. Money itself is not a measure of taste, it is only a measure of the wealth of the buyer; thus, money (more precisely, high prices) is not enough to define luxury goods [6
] (p. 314).
Kapferer and Bastien [6
] have emphasized that two main motives for luxury product purchasing—the consumer’s pleasure (luxury for self) and the demonstration of success (luxury for others)—will affect the future of luxury brands; however, it should be noted that there are significant geographical differences in these motives, which depend on whether luxury goods are traditionally produced and consumed in the country or whether the consumption of luxury products is a relatively new phenomenon. In addition, consumers often buy luxury products as gifts. Despite differences in purchasing motivations, the brand is still the main vehicle for connecting with the consumer [12
]. A brand may influence consumer perceptions of and attitudes toward it in several ways, including brand awareness, perceptions of image, and preference for the brand. A consumer will pay the high price of luxury, because a luxury product fulfils all their emotional, symbolic, and experiential needs [13
]. The brand identity must be coherent and consistent with what the product represents and should bring additional value without betraying it [7
] (p. 3)
Luxury brands are not launched; they are progressively built “by managing the allocation of resources in a very specific way” [6
] (p. 313). They have set trends and “influenced the rest of the industry with their aesthetic value and innovative yet traditional way of business management”. They apply innovative styles not only to products, but also to customer management, marketing mixes, customer services, retail strategies, and more [14
] (p. 165). Koehn [13
] listed three possible causes of luxury brand growth: (1) wealthy people purchasing more luxury products; (2) number of wealthy people increasing; or (3) middle and lower classes buying luxury brands. Probably the number of people who want to own luxury exceeds the number of people who have the economic means to do it regularly.
Traditional marketing tools—mass distribution, internet, and call centres—have been used to facilitate quick access to the product. However, these tools are not used for luxury products. Consumers of luxury products enjoy the luxury after passing through obstacles: financial, cultural (they have to know how to appreciate the product, wear it, and consume it), logistical (finding the shops) and time (waiting for production and delivery of luxury products, which are associated with longer waiting periods). Therefore, for luxury products, a built-in time factor (the time necessary for searching, waiting, and longing) must also be taken into account [6
2.2. Sustainable and Slow Fashion Concepts
It has been proven that fashion has a negative environmental impact. According to Chow and Li [15
], the fashion industry is the second-largest polluting industry. In recent years, many fashion companies have started to incorporate the factor in sustainability into their business model. Fashion companies have begun to think about whether (the highly profitable) affordable and trendy fashion could be in balance with ethical issues such as environmental sustainability. A number of fashion companies have been launching programs to collect used clothes from customers, where the collected items are subsequently resold or donated for second-hand stores or recycled into fibres or fuels, thus reducing waste and pollution, and preserving the environment [15
]. However, many authors have been sceptical of the sustainability efforts of the major fashion retailers, believing that “although fashion producers and retailers offer one-off sustainable options, they still rely on hyper-consumption and low prices to meet their business goals” (Fletcher, 2010, in [16
] (p. 6)).
is an alternative trend against fast fashion [17
]. It “encompasses a variety of terms such as organic, green, fair trade, sustainable, slow, eco and so forth, each attempting to highlight or correct a variety of perceived wrongs in the fashion industry” (Cervellon et al., 2010, in [18
]). The concept of sustainable fashion refers to a range of activities aimed at the correction of a “variety of perceived wrongs in the fashion industry” (e.g., animal cruelty, environmental damage, and worker exploitation) (Lundblad & Davies, 2015, in [19
]). Sustainable fashion (also known as “eco fashion”) is a part of a growing design, manufacturing, and use philosophy and trend toward maintainability, the goal of which is to create a system which is supportable indefinitely, in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. This definition includes three focal points: the attitudes, beliefs, plans, and behaviours of designers, manufacturers, and consumers regarding sustainable fashion issues [17
are products that provide environmental, societal, and economic benefits while protecting public health, welfare, and the environment over their full commercial cycle (from the extraction of raw materials to final disposition), providing for the needs of future generations [20
](p. 2). Multiple ways to define and measure the sustainability of a product have been proposed. As products have many dimensions and attributes and they are manufactured and delivered in many different ways, products can fulfil sustainability criteria in many ways. Kevin Brady [21
] listed some of the ways to make a product sustainable: (1) when designing the product, the emphasis should be on material selection, processes used, logistics optimization, and packaging; (2) throughout the product supply chain, responsible labor, community and worker health, and safety practices should be ensured; and (3) the products should have a low carbon footprint, contain recycled content, and be produced considering water and/or energy efficiency. Jawahir et al. [20
] appointed the three most-common criteria for sustainable product development: (1) minimization of the material and energy resources needed to satisfy the product function and consumer demand; (2) maximizing the use of resources expended; and (c) minimizing/eliminating the adverse effects of waste and emissions. A special category of sustainable products is green, environmentally friendly products, which reduce natural resource usage, prevent waste generation, avoid toxic materials, and/or reduce hazardous impact on environment throughout the whole production life cycle (Tsai, 2010, in [22
]). Pui-Yan Ho and Choi’s study [23
] revealed that a majority of the surveyed organizations believed that ‘green’ efforts would strongly impact their reputation and brand. Increased brand equity and reputation for CSR enable organizations to maintain their current customer loyalty and attract new customers.
In the context of the above discussion, the development of sustainable products and business practices are a form of reaction of fashion companies to criticism of their unsustainable conduct, negatively impacting environmental quality and human well-being by producing carbon emissions, poor labour conditions, excessive waste, and chemical usage [19
]. A growing consumer concern about sustainability issues has been reflected in a willingness to pay higher prices for products and services provided by companies involved in social and environmental activities (Johnstone & Tan, 2015, in [19
]). Consumers have been shown to care more about sustainability and sustainable fashion, and it seems that sustainable fashion has become as much about the product itself as the shopper’s attitude toward it [24
]. This is one reason why there has been increased interest and attention from academics and practitioners in ethics, environmental concerns, and sustainability issues relating to affordable, trend-sensitive, and fast fashion (Chan & Wong, 2012; Joy et al., 2012; Sun, Kim, & Kim, 2014, in [19
]), in order to determine how fashion consumers form their judgments and make purchasing decisions about eco-friendly and/or sustainable products. However, despite a growing interest in sustainable fashion, consumers also require that sustainable fashion meets aesthetic and style requirements. Beard (2008, in [18
]) has shown that price, quality, and appearance of clothing are still more important than ethics when making purchasing decisions; that is, clothing must not only be sustainable, but also meet the consumer’s aesthetic needs. Thus, the mere fact that a product meets a sustainability criterion does not seem to be a strong enough incentive for the consumer to favor it.
Han, Seo, and Ko [19
] pointed out that “consumers are in constant state of psychological imbalance, an attitude–behavior gap
, between their sustainability concerns and their own sustainable fashion products consumption”. When explaining the relationship between general attitudes toward sustainability and ethical issues (on one hand) and buying behaviour (on the other hand), many authors have referred to Heider’s (1958) balance theory
]), which helps to understand the sustainable fashion paradox and sustainable fashion product consumption
behaviours. For example, Pui-Yan Ho and Choi [23
] found that many consumers were willing to pay a higher price for eco-friendly products from environmentally-friendly retailers and/or produced by environmentally-friendly producers. Han et al. [19
] pointed out that recent studies have revealed that consumers hesitate to adopt sustainable fashion. Moreover, there is an inconsistency/imbalance between consumer pro-sustainability attitudes and their sustainable fashion product consumption behaviours: although consumers are concerned about sustainability and expect fashion companies to show a social commitment, they do not demonstrate sustainable behavior when consuming fashion products (the so-called sustainable fashion paradox
Cline (2012, in [16
]) considered slow fashion
to have arisen in opposition to fast fashion, but Fletcher (2010, in [25
]) believed that slow and fast fashions represent different, but not opposite, attitudes, business processes, frameworks, and values. The purpose is to offer more sustainable and ethical ways of being fashionable (Clark, 2008, in [16
]). Kate Fletcher [26
] (pp. 260, 262) argued that, in the last ten years, fashion has often been associated with the words ‘fast’ and ‘slow’, as related to “a wide range of practices that are either more or less large-scale, logistics-dominated, economic growth-focused, ethical or ecological”. The ‘slow’ refers to durable products, traditional production techniques, or season-less design concepts. The author also argued that slow fashion “is wheeled in to offer apparent legitimacy to existing products and business models, conferring upon them a sense of ethics and resourcefulness”. Within slow fashion, the production, manufacturing, and final product should be sustainable; made of durable, recycled, or organic materials; and have timeless designs (i.e., both stylish and wearable over multiple seasons). The problem is that slow fashion products are usually more expensive than fast fashion ones, which discourages many consumers from adopting them [16
Increased interest in the slow fashion concept has been related to an increased awareness of sustainability issues and concern about the negative environmental and human impact of the fashion industry [27
]. It is associated with fair working conditions, sustainable business models, organic and environmentally friendly materials, certifications, and traceability (Henninger et al., 2016, in [27
]). There have been evident changes in consumer behaviors regarding Slow Fashion: consumers have better awareness and think twice before they buy [25
]. According to Cavender [28
] (p. 30), “the emergence of sustainable fashion movements (e.g., slow fashion, conscious consumption) indicates that society as a whole is beginning to question the consumption-oriented dominant social paradigm, signaling an impending shift toward more sustainable consumption and increased commitment to sustainability initiatives by corporations”. However, despite growing consumer awareness and concern about the slow fashion concept, there has not been an evident correlation to their sustainable behaviours in consumption (Kong et al., 2016, in [27
]). Similarly, Goworek et al. (2012, in [16
]) pointed out that the sustainable behaviour of consumers depends significantly more on their habits than on their knowledge of sustainable business practices. Hence, we hypothesize that:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
Sustainable consumer behavior has a significant positive impact on slow fashion consumer behavior.
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
Sustainable consumer behavior has a significant positive impact on sustainable consumer habits.
2.3. Social Media, Luxury Brands, and Sustainable Marketing
Social media plays a key role in a luxury brand’s success. In order to survive, luxury brands have turned toward marketing communication by social media, which represents “the two-way communication platforms that allow users to interact with each other online to share information and opinions”. The popularity of social media has also been evidenced by the fact that almost all luxury fashion brands use social media websites (e.g., Twitter or Facebook) [14
] (p. 164). Social media has changed the way in which the branding content is created, distributed, and consumed, transferring the power to shape brand images from marketers to consumer’s online connections and content [29
]. Social media includes five features: entertainment, customization, interaction, word of mouth, and trend (trendiness) [14
What is the dilemma and resilience of luxury brands using social media? For a long time, luxury brands were resistant to social media, because they believed that the technology was a threat and “works against the firms’ desire to control their own brands”. Moreover, the luxury market did not believe in websites and e-commerce potential to attract customers [14
] (p. 166). Jin [30
] pointed out that luxury brands sell their products mainly in offline stores as they pursue uniqueness and exclusivity through strictly controlled distribution. For that reason, luxury brands face the dilemma of whether to keep up with the trend of social media or maintain their brand integrity, uniqueness, and exclusivity through high quality, premium pricing, and controlled distribution.
Many studies have focused on the use of social media by luxury brands in marketing. Schwedt et al. (2012, in [31
]) investigated two types of customer populations—French and Italian (representatives of historically well-established traditional luxury markets with consumers with refined fashion tastes and preferences) and Chinese and Indian (representatives of rapidly growing luxury markets with consumers who have only recently gained access to these kinds of goods)—for five globally renowned luxury brands. Their study revealed that social media marketing had significant positive effects on brand equity and consumer responses, including on brand loyalty, preference, and willingness to pay a premium price.
According to Deloitte, the future of the global luxury market has been affected by the digital revolution, as well as by technology, the growing global middle class, and the influence of Millennials and Generation Z. “Luxury brands usage of social media as a part of their marketing strategy. To stimulate interest among Millennials and Generation Z, luxury brands are increasingly using social media platforms to engage with young consumers, while trying to keep their brand value intact. The future success of luxury brands depends on how well they will be able to communicate and market their goods to the new generations of tech-savvy buyers“ [32
] (p. 9). A majority of luxury brands have their own distinct social media strategies and many of them have also developed relationships with influencers and niche bloggers, who advocate the brand within interested communities [32
Based on the above, we believe that consumer perception of the importance of implementing sustainable marketing strategies will affect slow consumer behavior, as well as sustainable consumer habits. Formally, we hypothesize that:
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
Increasing the value of the latent variable of sustainable marketing (perceived importance of applying sustainable marketing strategies) has an impact on increasing sustainable consumer habits.
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
Increasing the value of the latent variable of sustainable marketing (perceived importance of applying sustainable marketing strategies) has an impact on slow fashion consumer behavior.
2.4. Luxury Brands and Their Pro-environmental and Pro-social Behaviour
Carrigan et al. [33
] stated that, compared to cheap fashion (usually disposable fashion), luxury fashion brands represent a more sustainable type of fashion; this is because luxury brands usually manufacture small quantities of products (in order to stay exclusive) with high quality and long lifecycles. Thus, they waste significantly fewer resources than mass-market brands and, so, luxury goods can be regarded as inherently sustainable (Amatulli et al., 2017, in [34
Consumers have become better informed, more selective, and have shown increased concern about the environmental and social consequences of their consumption. This increased consumer awareness has led to a greater involvement of organizations in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. According to Torelli et al. (2012), “consumer perceptions of CSR of brands affect their willingness to buy certain brands which, in turn, affects firms’ decisions to invest in CSR” [3
] (p. 1366). Corporate social responsibility has been defined as “an organization’s endeavours and standing in regard to its societal or stakeholder obligations to increase its positive impact and minimize its negative impact on society” (Brown & Dacin, 1997, in [35
]). According to Bednárová et al. [36
], the essence of CSR is to find and continually maintain a balance between a company’s economic efficiency, social engagement, and environmental responsibility. Its essence is the belief that, in addition to governments, businesses and companies should also contribute and take responsibility for the well-being of society, environmental protection, sustainable development, and the rational use of non-renewable resources.
Maon et al. (2009, in [33
]) argued that corporate social responsibility has changed from an ideology to reality and that it represents an important part of current business practices. Therefore, it is dangerous for companies to ignore social responsibility pressures. CSR, as a tool, seems to have become an essential value for companies. Employee involvement, environmental concern, reducing waste, and optimizing energy consumption and waste cycles represent the areas of greatest commitment declared by companies engaged in CSR [37
]. Sojka and Tej [38
] emphasized that, in general, there are many pros and cons to CSR. However, there are no known studies which have revealed that companies behaving pro-socially and pro-environmentally are less efficient; on the contrary, there have been many studies which confirmed that CSR is beneficial for companies in the long term and that it represents the only possible behaviour, at present, in terms of sustainable development. According to Shnayder et al. [39
], the benefits of CSR are multiple and are manifested in several areas at the same time; for example, quality assurance and maintenance have the two potential benefits of consumer satisfaction (people) and reputation (profit), and reducing energy use could have both environmental (planet) and cost-reducing (profit) effects.
An interesting look at CSR activities has been offered by Joo, Miller, and Fink [35
], who investigated the influence on consumer perceptions of the authenticity of the CSR activities
done by organizations. They examined seven dimensions of CSR authenticity: (1) community link (the degree to which stakeholders perceive CSR initiatives to be connected to their communities), (2) reliability (the degree to which stakeholders perceive that the CSR program actually does what it promises to do), (3) congruence (the degree to which stakeholders perceive an alignment between an organization’s CSR efforts and the vital core of its own business), (4) commitment (the degree to which stakeholders perceive the organization as dedicated or steadfast in its CSR initiatives, as opposed to adjusting initiatives to meet current trends), (5) benevolence (the degree to which stakeholders perceive CSR initiatives as altruistic), (6) transparency (the degree to which stakeholders perceive CSR decisions, practices, outcomes, and so on to be open and available to public evaluation), and (7) broad impact (the degree to which the initiative benefits numerous recipients). Their research found positive effects of authenticity on a variety of consumer outcomes.
As highlighted by Amatulli et al. [34
] (p. 278), “CSR can be leveraged to enhance consumers’ perception of luxury brands”; thus, CSR has become one of the key pillars of luxury market strategies. Authors have distinguished external and internal CSR activities: initiatives within the economic and ethical CSR dimensions (i.e., reducing production costs and improving working conditions) represent internal CSR activities, as they are less visible and harder to perceive by consumers, whereas the legal and philanthropic CSR dimensions (e.g., including required information on product packaging and financially supporting local community projects) belong to external CSR activities [34
]. Carrigan, Moraes, and McEachern [33
] believed that luxury fashion businesses should deal with CSR and set sustainability as a corporate goal, as it will allow them to naturalize and develop long-term core competencies which will be hard to imitate by competitors. Whereas fashion will probably be directed towards a more responsible future, it is crucial for the international luxury fashion industry to embrace responsible values in their sourcing, manufacture, and distribution of their products and services (Laudal, 2010, in [33
]), concentrating on those consumers that form ‘part of an affluent, global elite that is increasingly well-educated and concerned about social and environmental issues’ (Bendell & Kleanthous, 2007; Reuters, 2009; The Cooperative Bank, 2010, in [33
]). As consumption has historically evolved from a private, needs-oriented activity to a socially-construed, desire-sustaining activity (Bauman, 2004, in [33
]), the influential position of the luxury fashion consumers who embrace socially-responsible fashion brands have the potential to influence, normalize, and lead the diffusion of desirable, pro-environmental, and pro-social behaviours [33
]. As CSR seems to be an important factor in the decision-making of luxury consumers, we hypothesize that:
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
The perception of using and applying CSR activities (by the brand) has a significant positive effect on increasing luxury goods purchasing.
Hypothesis 6 (H6).
The perception of using and applying CSR activities (by the brand) has a significant positive effect on slow fashion consumer behavior.
However, based on the conviction that hedonism, excess, and ostentation (which are associated with luxury) are in contrast to sobriety, moderation, and ethics (which are the basis of CSR activities), some authors have proposed that CSR is not an important factor in the decision-making of luxury consumers, or even that CSR could worsen consumer perception of the quality of luxury goods [34
]. Moreover, consumers sometimes perceive CSR activities negatively; particularly if the brands are involved in CSR activities mainly for selfish and acquisitive reasons (e.g., to have better consumer evaluations) and have no genuine and sincere interest in contributing to social welfare (Alcañiz et al., 2010; Chernev and Blair, 2015, in [3
Opinions on the attitudes of luxury fashion consumers towards CSR are different: some authors have argued that, given that “luxury fashion consumers are already willing to pay high prices, it is unlikely that any reasonable ‘eco’ or ‘social’ mark-up on their favourite luxury brands will act as a purchase dissuader” [33
] (p. 26). Other authors have referred to self-enhancement (which is related to the notion of status) as the driving force for purchasing luxury products: self-enhancing consumers are less engaged in ethical behavior (e.g., they would prefer to buy a luxurious, but polluting, car than a small, less polluting, electric car) [3
A number of studies have dealt with the question of whether luxury fashion can be sustainable, or how luxury and sustainability can converge. To make luxury fashion more sustainable, Godart and Seong [40
] suggested three scenarios: (1) institutional change through slow luxury fashion (e.g., modifying the current fast trend cycles or seasons to slower ones), (2) innovative luxury fashion (e.g., using materials that have a lower impact on the environment, reduce waste at each step of the production process, and/or increase recycling of discarded clothes), (3) upgrading luxury fashion through regulation (i.e., regulations of the state or the industry). Elisa Arrigo [41
] emphasized that luxury goods are inherently sustainable: their rarity, beauty, and especially durability (some luxury products are a form of investment, which are handed down from generation to generation due to the durable quality of their materials) form a basis for sustainable development. Additionally, in the case of crafted, handmade, and rare savoir faire production, companies invest in sustainable programs focused on employee training or building artisan schools in order to preserve luxury artisanship skills.
The literature review leads us to hypothesize the following:
Hypothesis 7 (H7).
Increasing the level of sustainable consumer habits of the population has a significant positive impact on increasing the luxury goods purchasing.
Hypothesis 8 (H8).
Increasing the level of sustainable consumer habits of the population has a significant positive impact on slow fashion consumer behavior.
Hypothesis 9 (H9).
There is a statistically significant positive covariance between CSR application and sustainable consumer habits.
Hypothesis 10 (H10).
There is a statistically significant positive covariance between slow fashion consumer behavior and the latent variable defined as luxury good purchasing.
2.5. Two Generational Cohorts and Their Perceptions of CSR
(the so-called ‘Millennials’), born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, represent a huge consumer segment with growing purchasing power. Millennials represent 24% of the world’s population: in Italy, there are 8.03 million, divided fairly evenly between males (50.5%) and females (49.5%) [42
]. Millennials, who represent about half of the consumers, pay attention to CSR and are willing to pay more for sustainable products. According to Sullivan [43
], the difference between Millennials and older generations of consumers lies in the fact that they are three times as likely as Generation X and 12 times as likely as Baby Boomers to respond favourably to sustainability actions. Members of Generation Y have also been called Digital Natives, as they were the first generation to have spent their entire lives in the digital environment: information technology profoundly affects how they live and work [44
]. They are digital, global, and hyper-connected: a vast majority of them (97%) have at least one personal profile on a social network.
Generation Y consumers have benefited from the increased availability of customized products and personalized services [44
], which has been reflected, among other things, in that they ‘want it all’ and ‘want it now’ [45
]. They are very good at recognizing an advertising message, are able to distinguish authentic content from a promotional one and require authenticity. They want better and more innovative products and want them as quickly and conveniently as possible. CSR activities matter to this ‘always connected’ generation. A recent Nielsen study revealed that, for 85% of Millennials, it was extremely or very important that companies implement programs to improve the environment; furthermore, 75% declared that they definitely or probably would change their purchasing habits to reduce their impact on the environment. Millennials are particularly interested in charitable giving and partnerships, community activity and volunteering, fair-trade programs, environmental policies, and positive labor policies (e.g., anti-discrimination and anti-harassment practices) [46
]. Studies have shown that millennial consumers are willing to support different social and environmental initiatives and their willingness to support the corporate social responsibility initiatives of food companies are affected by both trust and loyalty.
(also called the ‘iGeneration’ or ‘Post-Millennials’), born between 1995 and 2010, is an extremely pragmatic generation, have been born at a time of profound global and ideological crisis. Generation Z seems to be more sensitive, compared to previous ones, to environmental and social causes and is more engaged in voluntary work. For that reason, they prefer brands that are sensitive and actively involved in environmental problems and social issues (not those which have an excellent CSR program on paper, but those which make the world a better place) [47
]. Another characteristic of Generation Z is the presence of a strong spirit of entrepreneurship and initiative. Research has showed that 72% of current high school students plan to run their own business in the coming years, while 76% would like their hobby to become a job. According to Fortune, the Millennials are waiting to be discovered, while Generation Z is ready to work hard to succeed [48
Sharon Uche [49
] examined the attitudes and perceptions of Generation Z regarding a brand or a brand’s CSR and found that Generation Z consumers have more trusting relationships with brands who communicate their CSR involvement. Additionally, the research of Arıker and Toksoy [50
] showed that the attitudes of Generation Z toward the implementation of CSR activities by companies are positive. Generation Z consumers have no strong intention to purchase CSR related products. For them, the implementation of CSR activities is not sufficient incentive for purchasing; generation Z consumers intend to purchase products only if the preconditions of price and quality are satisfied.