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Shoppers Show Keen Interest in Traceability Tech According to Avery Dennison

Brands’ and retailers’ investments in technology-enabled shopping experiences are leading to higher consumer engagement and more conscientious shopping habits, according to new data from Avery Dennison.

A study conducted with audience insights company GWI of more than 6,300 apparel consumers in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, China, Mexico and Japan revealed that shoppers are highly engaged with tools like QR codes, RFID and virtual reality experiences when they visit stores. Across surveyed markets, monthly use of QR codes has seen a steady increase since 2018, even in Europe, where tech engagement has historically lagged. Two-thirds of global respondents said they are looking to these tools to provide greater transparency about the origins of the apparel they’re buying, while 60 percent said they’re interested in learning about how to properly care for their purchases.

The survey’s results show that the appetite for easy access to product insights and interactive experiences has grown, along with frictionless interactions facilitated by mobile checkout and digital receipts. In addition to becoming more conscious about consumption for environmental reasons, three out of four shoppers reported reducing their spending on non-essentials due to the rising cost of living and inflation.

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“In a time of widespread technological, environmental, cultural, and organizational transformation, consumers are looking to brands and businesses to guide them through change,” Michael Colarossi, the company’s vice president of innovation and product line management, wrote.

Convenience, sustainability and circularity are among the most globally cited motivators for engaging with digital “triggers,” like tags and codes, the groups’ data showed. Notably, different regions value the technology’s ability to provide different insights. In China and Mexico, environmentalism is a strong driver in the use of these tools, as users are keen to gain knowledge about conscious wash care, recycling at the end-of-life stage, resale and repair. In the U.S. and U.K., by contrast, users are more interested in convenience in the form of self-service checkout and easy returns.

“These findings confirm fashion shoppers expect stores and products to be enhanced with smart digital solutions that will make their experience more convenient, informative and engaging,” Colarossi added.

GWI vice president Chase Buckle said the study “helps us to understand consumers’ collective headspace when it comes to the shopping experience—and shows changes in consumer sentiment” as shoppers ramp up their usage of technology. “Digital tools, from QR codes linking to product information to VR experiences will help retailers be more efficient, support consumers, and help the industry adopt new models for sustainability, transparency and circularity.”

Sustainability is a high priority with shoppers across the board, with a significant and growing awareness about the impacts of climate change, along with the importance of ethical labor standards. Shoppers in Europe and Mexico said they were more likely to scan digital triggers for information about human impact and labor rights.

Avery Dennison said digital identifiers hold “a great deal of potential in bringing the fashion industry toward greater levels of sustainability and circularity, particularly when products are given a unique identity.” Digital ID solutions drive efficiency through traceability and also give stakeholders instant access to data about a product’s lifecycle, from the mining and manufacturing process to its life with the consumer and beyond—”all areas of significant impact when it comes to meeting global environmental goals.” The technology could prove especially useful as new legislation in Europe and the U.S. takes hold with regard to sustainability and forced labor.

The research also showed that the NFT craze is still buzzing with apparel shoppers. More than half (51 percent) of the global consumers surveyed said they would be interested in creating a digital inventory of their wardrobes. Avery Dennison believes that has the potential to impact the secondary marketplace. Fashion shoppers in China, Japan and Mexico, where the market is rife with counterfeit goods, disproportionately said proof of garment authentication is a key reason they would utilize digital triggers.

NFTs represent another avenue for reaching male consumers, Avery Dennison’s research shows. Digital fashion is becoming increasingly prevalent in the metaverse and gaming worlds, and 47 percent of global consumers said they would buy digital clothing for their virtual gaming avatars. “On a global scale, male buyers compared to female buyers are more likely to engage with technology, especially the metaverse or virtual platforms,” analysts wrote. “This provides brands with a new opportunity to entice male shoppers.”