written by Shanshan Zhu
Measuring the commitment to corporate social responsibility through traditional methods – such as the evaluation of information disclosed by the company – nowadays should be integrated with a more extensive analysis that takes into account the perception by stakeholders.
The study, conducted by FinScience on 20 Italian and 20 international fashion companies, evaluates the relationship between fashion and sustainability with an ‘alternative’ approach in the period from January to July 2020. In particular, the analysis employs alternative data, i.e. unstructured data retrieved from digital environments such as social media, blogs, forums, mainstream news, etc.
The study measures the popularity of news concerning the sustainability of the selected companies by means of two main AI-based indicators: the ‘Digital Popularity Value’, which measures the level of digital diffusion of news concerning a company/topic, and the ‘Sentiment’, which measures the user’s positive/negative perception towards a specific company/topic.
The most “popular fashion brands”
Our analysis found that Gucci, Versace, Valentino, Armani, Bottega Veneta, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Moncler, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Max Mara were the ten most discussed companies in relation to sustainability issues during the selected period, as they together obtained more the 90% of the total DPV performed by all companies.
On the international side, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Under Armour, Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Nike, Michael Kors e Hollister Co. stood out, as they together registered more the 90% of the total DPV performed by all selected international companies.
The most discusses ESG topics
We could identify interesting points of contact and divergence in relation to the ESG topics that were the most diffused online in the selected period. For both Italian and international companies social issues have been the most mentioned, with specific reference to LGBTI rights, social and racial discrimination. With specific reference to this last topic, in particular, international companies registered a particularly high DPV associated with a negative sentiment, probably due to the events that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. Moreover, the sentiment registered in the international sector seems to be more negative compared to the sentiment of news concerning the italian companies (as to LGBTQ rights, sexual discrimination and consumer protection).
Environmental topics follow – in particular climate change and responsible production – , and obtained higher DPV levels for italian companies compared to international companies.
Through the analysis of DPV and sentiment indicators FinScience allows not only the monitoring of most significant and impactful topics for different industries, but also the day-by-day comparison of sustainability performance between companies, shedding light on strengths and weaknesses of corporate sustainability strategies.