Social media and Chinese consumers’ environmentally sustainable apparel purchase intentions

Li Zhao (Department of Textile and Apparel Management, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Stacy H. Lee (Institute of Textile and Clothing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Lauren Reiter Copeland (The Fashion School, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA)

Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

ISSN: 1355-5855

Publication date: 9 September 2019



Social media and sustainability are changing Chinese consumers’ consumption behavior in notable ways. Few apparel industry sustainability efforts are enforced or well known in China. As China operates its own social media sites, it is necessary to study Chinese social media, rather than Western types, in order to understand its influence on Chinese consumer behavior with regard to sustainability. By extending the theory of reasoned action (TRA) and the prototype willingness model, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how Chinese consumers were taught their environmentally sustainable apparel (ESA) consumption behavior through social media, and also how the influence of peers affected their purchase intentions.


A total of 238 survey responses were collected and analyzed from a Chinese research firm in 2016. In accord with the study objectives, an exploratory factor analysis was first conducted, and then a two-step analysis of a structural equation model was employed for hypothesis testing. To test the significance of hypothesized mediated effects, a bootstrap procedure with 2,000 bootstrap samples from the original data was used to compute bias-corrected 95% CI for indirect effects. Moreover, hierarchical regressions were demonstrated to verify the unique contribution of social media influence.


The study findings support the previous literature that indicated positive attitudes toward environmentally sustainable purchasing behavior increased as Chinese consumers learned about social and environmental issues. Also, results of the analysis revealed that Chinese consumers’ engagement with social media and their peers were important social influences that were directly tied to increasing sustainable apparel purchase intentions.


By extending two grand theories of the prototype willingness model theory and the TRA, this study underlines a novel link between the influence of social media and ESA purchase intentions among Chinese consumers. Results are valuable in a global context as it is one of only a few studies to explore Chinese consumers’ purchase intentions of ESA through an exclusive social media platform – WeChat – in China.



Zhao, L., Lee, S. and Copeland, L. (2019), "Social media and Chinese consumers’ environmentally sustainable apparel purchase intentions", Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 855-874.

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