Communicating with customers  Clothing that looks good – and does good too

Helping our customers feel good about buying and wearing our products is critical: they support our work to create positive change in the apparel industry with their purchasing decisions. We strive to make products with respect for people, the environment and animals. We want our customers to feel proud of the products they buy from us, and to help them make purchasing decisions that drive change. 

Our 2017 performance

Inviting customers to join our sustainability journey 

At C&A, we have long believed that everyone should be able to look good, feel good and do good, every day. Our customers deserve great quality, stylish clothes that have been sourced and made in a way that respects people, the environment and animals. Without compromise, and at no extra cost.

Since we began our annual insights survey, our customers have been telling us that they want to know more about the sustainability of the clothes they buy. In response to this demand, we set out to create a customer-facing message that could bring sustainability to life in an uncomplicated and easily accessible way, helping customers find the products they want and be reassured that they have been produced and sourced sustainably.

In particular, we wanted to align our sustainability communications with C&A brand communications to emphasise that sustainability is the new normal. 

In 2018, we reached a key milestone in our sustainability journey with the launch of #WearTheChange, our first global, multi-channel sustainability communications campaign. It was launched in Europe in February 2018, across in-store, online and print touchpoints. All products advertised under #WearTheChange are produced and sourced in a way that is more sustainable than conventional methods. Every one is backed by a verifiable sustainability claim: for example, certified organic cotton or Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM.

The #WearTheChange message is clear: every little step counts. We are inviting customers to join our sustainability journey with an inspiring and optimistic message that it’s possible to look good and feel good, with no compromises. 

The campaign was rolled out to Brazil and China in April 2018, with light-touch adaptations for each market. We plan to launch #WearTheChange in Mexico later in the year, and will report on the results of this exciting global campaign in our next sustainability report. 

#WearTheChange product claims

#WearTheChange is not a certification or claim – it is a marketing campaign to help customers identify and understand the more sustainable products we offer. But every product featured in the campaign must be backed by a verifiable sustainability claim.

Bringing sustainability to life

As part of our mission to bring sustainable products into the mainstream, the #WearTheChange campaign focuses on the needs of C&A customers. That means helping them find the products they want in a range of styles and colours to suit them, and communicating their sustainability credentials in a way that is clear, simple and easily accessible for everyone.

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#WearTheChange: Connecting with customers

Lots of customers have asked about #WearTheChange after they see us in the new T-shirt in the stores. One 60-year-old lady asked her daughter to translate the sentence on the T-shirt. After listening to our explanation of #WearTheChange, she bought the T-shirt for her and her daughter.

Micol Sportelli, C&A store manager, Vignate

This is just one of the many anecdotes C&A’s Marina Begotti has heard since #WearTheChange was launched. “We’ve made so many strides with our products, with more than half of our sold clothes already produced more sustainably – now we have a way of articulating this commitment directly to our customers,” she says.

Launched in February 2018, #WearTheChange made its debut in European markets, with all employees swapping their usual dark winter uniforms for white T-shirts proclaiming #WearTheChange and armed with stories about C&A’s products. And lots of enthusiasm.

“Employees didn’t just share a selfie – they shared multiple selfies! They shared the experience with their family and friends. They shot videos and shared them online. They chatted with curious customers about our Cradle-to-Cradle T-shirt. Some had to broaden their social networks as requests to learn more about #WearTheChange came in,” reports Micol.

For Alessandra Scalas, #WearTheChange brought her relationship with C&A full circle. Once, she was a customer desperate to find clothes that her son, who suffered from dermatitis, could wear comfortably. She had tried many different brands before she heard about C&A – and once she tried a C&A T-shirt for her child, there was no looking back.

Today, Scalas is the store manager of C&A’s Vercelli store. When #WearTheChange launched, she found a way to share her story with other parents, who were in turn impressed by how C&A products are made to be better for them and the planet. #WearTheChange gave Scalas a powerful tool to talk about sustainability in a way that was simple, forthright and personal.

“Sustainability is a challenge we should all consider in our daily lives. All of us can change the fashion industry. #WearTheChange allows us to talk about the sustainability attributes of our products in an easy way. And as a C&A employee, #WearTheChange makes me proud to work here,” says Begotti.

Early feedback from customers shows curiosity followed by admiration, questions about product sustainability, and then often a purchase and a share on social media. Another point of surprise for customers was that sustainability doesn’t need to come at a high price. “#WearTheChange represents our mind-set as a company. Great style and great quality without compromising the planet,” says Begotti.

Making sustainable fashion normal, showing customers that they’re doing the right thing when they shop with us: #WearTheChange represents the new normal for C&A. Now shared with over 3.5 million customers every day.

Making more sustainable products the new normal

We want all our products to be the best they can be: designed, sourced and made with sustainability in mind. C&A is the world’s leading buyer of certified organic cotton. We now sell more clothes made with more sustainable cotton than with conventional cotton.

We have also started to develop circular fashion products, with the launch of the first GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle Certified TM T-shirt, developed in partnership with Fashion for Good. Since then C&A has launched additional Cradle-to-Cradle Certified TM products in Men Ladies, Teens and Kids in Europe, Mexico and Brazil.

Read more about our approach to circular fashion

Read about more sustainable cotton

Europe: Launching our global sustainability communications campaign

Our 2016 customer survey, in partnership with GlobeScan, showed that many customers want us to communicate more about sustainability – and that European customers favour in-store displays as a communications channel. In line with this feedback, we continued to promote our organic products in Europe, as well as communicating on our 100% Responsible Down Standard-certified puffer jackets and the sustainability attributes of our denim products.

In 2017, we participated in Kidix, a family fair in Belgium, inviting kids of all ages to learn about organic cotton on our ‘education wall’ and communicating with parents on our responsible sourcing.

In February 2018, we launched #WearTheChange across multiple channels, including in-store and e-commerce. #WearTheChange messaging now covers all our customer-facing sustainability activities. During 2018, we will communicate the specific sustainability benefits of our products through the campaign, including certified organic cotton, recycled polyester and chrome-free leather.

Read more about responsible down

Brazil and Mexico: Building on our strengthened reputation

Through our 2017 survey, customers told us that their perception of C&A’s sustainability in Brazil and Mexico has improved on multiple topics, including organic cotton and recycled materials. Our #VistaAMudança (#WearTheChange) campaign was launched in Brazil in April 2018, and we plan to launch it in Mexico later in the year. This will be followed by specific communications on recycled polyester and our in-store take-back programmes. In Mexico, the campaign will go hand in hand with broader brand equity building.

China: Sharpening our brand positioning and communicating more widely

In China, we saw trust in C&A’s brand improve in 2017, supported by customer recognition of our For the Planet campaign. In 2018, we will sharpen our brand positioning as a sustainable fashion retailer have already launched our new global campaign, #WearTheChange, in April. We have also launched a more sustainable cotton capsule collection and will and begin promoting our 100% Responsible Down Standard-certified products in late 2018.

Read more about our work on organic cotton in China

The path to transparency

Our customers want us to be more transparent about where their clothes come from, so they can trust that we are making the right choices for them. We’re tackling this through our communications online. To make a real difference to many of the social and environmental issues in apparel, we need to play our part in shifting the entire industry – and the only way we will do this is through collaboration.

Read more about our industry collaborations 

Look at our supplier list and disclosure map 

Global sustainability messaging

Our communication approaches are localised to ensure we are talking to our regional customers about issues that they care about. We learned as far back as 2015 that although there are some differences between countries, there are often core issues that are of importance to everyone. As a result, in 2017 we launched our GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirt with similar campaigns across Europe, Mexico and Brazil. We have replicated this model in our new #WearTheChange campaign, developing core global messaging with light-touch adaptations for each region.

Where next?

Enhancing communications through #WearTheChange

We will launch #WearTheChange in Mexico as a focal point for our customer-facing sustainability communications. Later in 2018, we will begin communicating the specific sustainability benefits of our products through the campaign, localised for each region.