The effect of sustainability scores on responsible decision-making among clothing products

  • Marcello Domingos Félix Pereira (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Sustainability is a commonplace topic across myriad industries, especially the fashion domain. Despite brands’ endeavors to develop sustainable clothes, recent trends demonstrated that change is slow, and sometimes has reverted to unsustainable alternatives. Given the generalized lack of transparency, comparability, and understanding between consumers and fashion related sustainability, this paper investigates whether sustainability scores (i.e., an ‘A’ to ‘E’ scale, with the most and least sustainable items, respectively) resolve these issues. Numerous studies support and call for a methodology resembling sustainability scores, so consumers can make informed decisions. Specifically, alphabet theory, moral wiggle room, and information overload play key theoretical roles in supporting this approach. Hence, five hypotheses examine whether (1a) increasingly sustainability oriented individuals purchase responsibly, (1b) sustainability scores increase responsible purchasing, (2a) increasingly sustainable product descriptions attract a higher willingness to pay, (2b) increasingly sustainable product scores do the same with less variability, and (3a) sustainability targeted coupons (i.e., for ‘A’ and ‘B’ graded products) attract previously unsustainable buyers. These hypotheses used ordered logistic regressions (with and without mixed effects), multiple linear regressions (with mixed effects), a Levene’s test, and a McNemar’s test. All hypotheses were supported except hypothesis 2b, which was partially supported; lower willingness to pay variation was not found with sustainability scores. This paper’s conclusions have significant real world applications, including European Union policy implementations, business cases for sustainability, and the importance of sustainability focused educations. This paper hopes to drive change in the fashion industry, alongside adjacent domains where consumers require clearer information to make responsible decisions.
Date of Award19 Oct 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorSusann Fiedler (Supervisor)


  • Sustainability
  • Sustainability score
  • Labelling
  • Willingness to pay
  • Consumer behavior
  • Fast fashion
  • Alphabet theory
  • Moral wiggle room
  • Information overload


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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