Q&A: Good On You talks Fast Fashion and the Changing Consumer

Natasha Sholl By Natasha Sholl | 19 Jun 2019

With consumers putting pressure on brands for transparency, Good On You provides shoppers with what they want (and retailers with what they need).

Ahead of Online Retailer Conference & Expo, we speak to Gordon Renouf, Co-Founder & CEO of Good On You, about the sustainable movement, changing consumer demands and the power of apps.

Can you tell us a bit about the Good On You story?

We started talking about launching Good On You back in 2013, the year of the Rana Plaza factory collapse. You could see the impact of fast fashion and offshoring or production on the way people bought, consumed and disposed of fashion – and the impact that was having on the people producing the clothes and the environment.

My background is in consumer advocacy including a half dozen years with CHOICE, the consumer watchdog. It was clear that more and more people want to make more ethical choices when they shop but find it hard to cut through greenwashing and to know what to look for. Fashion isn’t like food, where all the ingredients are on the label – it’s a massive, complex industry with opaque supply chains and it’s hard for people to unpick that.

At the same time there was a growing movement of slow, sustainable fashion brands who rejected the fast fashion model. They explicitly appeal to consumers who want to know their clothes have been made in a way that fit their values, as well as looking good. It’s part of our mission to help brands like this find their audience.

So we developed the Good On You app so that shoppers could easily find out how their favourite brands rate on the issues they care about, and then discover new brands that match their style as well as their values. Within eight days of our launch at the end of 2015 we had 10,000 downloads and we knew we were onto something!

So far we’ve assessed over 2,500 fashion brands for their impact, making Good On You the largest database of its kind. But this is just the beginning. We have a goal to rate 10,000 brands and reach tens of millions or shoppers. With millions of people using Good On You, the fashion industry will have no choice but to change their practice to be more ethical and sustainable.

Given the changes we have seen in the last few years, what will the next generation of shopper look like? What will be important to them? And what do brands need to start doing now to remain relevant?

There’s a lot of talk and research about the changing attitudes of younger shoppers – and one theme is that they are more tuned into sustainability. But other research shows that large numbers of shoppers across age groups are strongly motivated to change. I think what’s different is how different generations act on their motivation. One difference is that younger people are less set in their ways and have more capacity and inclination to act on their concerns about sustainability. They’re more likely to try out new brands and they’re more likely to try out tools like Good On You that can help them. And younger people are generally more experimental with their fashion choices and ready to try new things.

What’s really new is our much greater ability to get all the information in one place so people can act on it easily. And that’s only going to increase with initiatives to make supply chains more transparent and to increase our ability to track the product journey across its full life cycle from field to factory to consumer to end of life – or hopefully its rebirth into something new as part of the circular economy.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s hard enough for retailers to survive, let alone thrive. What do they need to be doing to satisfy customers on every level?

More and more retailers are recognising that providing shoppers with information about how the brands they stock impact on people, the planet and animals is something that significant numbers of their customers expect them to do. And retailers in Australia and overseas to are responding to this consumer demand with significant initiatives from David Jones, the Iconic, ASOS, Selfridges and Farfetch to name a few.

Good On You is delighted to be the data engine powering Farfetch’s fantastic Positively Conscious initiative. More than 15,000 products are identified on Farfetch as part of the conscious edit. The majority of them because they are sold by a brand rated highly by Good On You.

At the end of the day, retailers need to provide consumers with what they want, and I believe that the majority of consumers simply expect retailers and the brands they sell to be moving quickly to address the issues that concern them like waste, pollution, worker safety, exploitation and animal welfare.

Do you have any stats on your app you can share with us?

More than 400,000 people have downloaded the Good On You app. Around 2 million people have engaged with the app, our website and our newsletter in the past 12 months.

How does the app impact consumer behaviour?

Good On You is more than an app. Shoppers use Good On You to check how their favourite brands rate, they take the app with them to the store or the mall and check brands when they’re shopping and they use our Journal, Online Directory and the app to discover new brands, whether through our popular content or our recommendation engine.

We get a lot of users saying things like they won’t buy clothes unless the brand achieves a certain scores on Good On You.

Gordon Renouf will be on the Panel for the topic: The Woke Consumer with Vogue’s Clare Press, Jaana Quaintance-James, from The Iconic, Lucy King from Country Road and David Jones and Outland Denim’s Matthew Traynor.  To see the full agenda for Online Retailer Conference & Expo (to be held 24-25 July at the ICC Sydney) or to buy tickets, click here.
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