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 2018 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 platform. 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. Each 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 platform was rolled out to Brazil and China in April 2018, with customised adaptations for each market. Brazil and China have since launched a series of communications to raise awareness among customers — and the general public — about the benefits of more sustainable fashion and how customers can become even more involved. We launched #WearTheChange in Mexico in April of 2019.

#WearTheChange product claims

#WearTheChange is not a certification or claim – it is a wide-reaching communications platform to help customers identify and understand the more sustainable products we offer, and learn more about our sustainability efforts. 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 platform 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.

For more about #WearTheChange, view this video

#WearTheChange: Connecting with customers

Since #WearTheChange was launched in early 2018, we have reached millions of people with our messages of more sustainable fashion.

  • In Europe, we nearly doubled the overall reaction rate compared to our average.
  • In Brazil, we achieved nearly 118 million impacts, more than 12 million engagements, and numerous articles and posts in the media.
  • In China, we recorded numerous views of WeChat articles featuring #WearTheChange, more than twice the average for C&A articles, including 515,000 views by key opinion leaders.

Engaging customers in Brazil

In Brazil, C&A employees were given a #WearTheChange T-shirt and encouraged to post selfies on social media to help increase awareness and engagement, both among employees and with customers. Extensive in-store window displays, rack displays, hang tags, posters, and other communications explained the elements of more sustainable fashion and how C&A is supporting the process. These communications, along with a dedicated sustainability website, press releases, numerous social media posts, two documentaries and a special video clip featuring Brazilian singer Mahmundi — who wrote a song about #WearTheChange and our journey in sustainability — all built excitement for the campaign. The video earned more than 11 million views online. Later in 2018, two C&A Fashion Futures events attended by hundreds of members of the public further boosted consumer awareness and involvement in the journey towards more sustainable fashion.

To further connect with youth, C&A invited a Brazilian young poet (@akapoeta) to write a manifesto using some of the words on the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ T-shirts. We then invited three influencers to read the poet’s words and share them on social media. At the same time, we sent a press kit with a Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirt, a glass straw, a One Less Trash cup (Menos 1 Lixo), and a printed version of the manifesto, to a small group of fashion-sustainability influencers. This generated an additional 24 posts on social media, with more than 275,000 potential impacts.

Read more about #WearTheChange in Brazil

China: Engaging customers and the public in #WearTheChange

In China, the launch of #WearTheChange took on a decidedly local feel, with each element carefully developed to connect with local customers, especially younger generations. Two campaigns, one in April and a second in August, raised awareness about C&A’s use of more sustainable cotton and highlighted other sustainability messages.

First, C&A launched a graphic design competition featuring sustainability messages and visual images on T-shirts and canvas bags. The one-month promotion led to more than 2,500 designs from participants. In-store displays and social media posts explained the cotton in each item had been grown in Binzhou, Shandong Province using organic cultivation practices.

A few months later, the #WearTheChange platform continued with a lifestyle-friendly programme featuring colourful notebooks made with sustainable inks and paper and featuring the same graphics as the T-shirts and bags. The series of seven recyclable notebooks also highlighted sustainability messages and the personal responsibility to help protect the environment. A special gift package brought it all together with a #WearTheChange T-shirt, notebook, decorated canvas bag, and coordinating stickers.

The C&A China #WearTheChange social media campaign resulted in over 350,000 views.

Read more about #WearTheChange

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 evelop circular fashion products, with the launch of the first gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirt, followed in 2018 by the launch of our certified jeans, both developed in partnership with Fashion for Good. Since then C&A has launched additional Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products in Men’s, Ladies’, Teens’, and Kids’ options in Europe, Mexico, and Brazil.

Read more about our approach to circular fashion

Read about more sustainable cotton

Europe: Launching our global sustainability communications platform

Our annual customer surveys, in partnership with GlobeScan, have 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 continue to promote our organic products in Europe, as well as communicating on our 100% Responsible Down Standard-certified jackets and the sustainability attributes of our denim products.

In 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 communicated the specific sustainability benefits of our products through the platform, including our gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM items, as well as certified organic cotton, recycled polyester, and chrome-free leather.

Read more about responsible down

Brazil: Building on our strong reputation

Through our 2018 survey, customers told us that C&A is the sustainability leader in Brazil among apparel brands. Our #WearTheChange platform was launched in Brazil in April 2018, with varied communications customised for local markets. In 2019, C&A Brazil will continue building customer awareness of our sustainability commitments and performance.

Mexico: Growing our reputation for sustainability

The 2018 survey demonstrated that customers in Mexico continue to appreciate the quality and value they get from C&A products. We are also recognised for protecting the environment, but less so for our more sustainable cotton products. #WearTheChange launched in Mexico on Earth Day in 2019, along with broader brand equity building. We will continue using the #WearTheChange platform to make customers more aware of the sustainable fashion options we offer in Mexico.

China: Building partnerships to connect with consumers on sustainability

In China, we leveraged partnerships with two other companies known for their commitment to sustainability as part of our multi-pronged #WearTheChange platform. With the sustainable nail brand Little Ondine, we launched a ‘green package’ containing water-based natural nail polish. And we partnered with Jiukoushan, which makes colourful, recyclable notebooks using sustainable materials, to feature the winning sustainability-themed designs from our #WearTheChange graphic design competition on a series of their notebooks. Both initiatives aimed to engage the younger generation through fun, creative, and informational products and messages.

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, such as by posting up-to-date lists of our suppliers’ factories. 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 suppliers’ list and disclosure map 

Global sustainability messaging
Our communication approaches are localised to ensure we are talking to our regional customers about issues they care about. We learned as far back as 2015 that although there are some differences between countries, there are often core issues 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 and Brazil, followed in 2018 by the launch of our gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM jeans in Men’s and Ladies’ options. We have replicated this model in our new #WearTheChange platform, developing core global messaging with light-touch adaptations for each region.

Where next?

Enhancing communications through #WearTheChange

We launched #WearTheChange as a focal point for our customer-facing sustainability communications. Later in 2019, we will begin communicating the specific sustainability benefits of our products through the platform, localised for each region. We are also updating our product hang tags where appropriate to give customers even more information about specific products.