Confront green scepticism

V.F. van den Berg, Peter Mulder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional

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Consumers are bombarded with green messages and have been victimized by sustainability communications. They must be the heroes again if we truly want to tackle the threat to the planet. Sustainability matters. And it will matter even more in the future. More and more companies are jumping on the green bandwagon – voluntarily or because they had to. Many act on the spur of the moment, motivated by ideology, impulse or instinct. They often structurally lack the know-how needed to handle the issue well. So, everyone is looking for something to hold on to in the area of consumers and sustainability. Companies are building their policies on empty truths. This, in turn, affects their corporate, marketing or communication strategies. They are serviced by many parties that claim to know what's what, touting research findings, monitors, barometers and so on. But on closer examination, they are often not for policymaking, they may skip a few steps, focus on companies' performance only, be too small-scale, or focus too much on a single aspect or industry.

It is time for a new kind of green marketing research tool.
In 2008, DDB Amsterdam and research firm Intomart GfK joined forces to launch The Sustainability Files, a study of consumers' attitudes and behaviour towards sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). In 2010, the sustainable marketing agency b-open joined the study as a third partner. The Sustainability Files, a Dutch nationwide study of 2,500 people aged 16 and over, surveying 180 brands within 20 categories – shows that, if you know what you're doing, sustainability can be a concrete building block for brands. The study is motivated first and foremost by consumers. The aim is to change the concept of sustainability from a vague idea to something upon which they can take specific action. The Sustainability Files take turns in focusing on specific product categories and brands. For which products is sustainability relevant? And for which ones is it irrelevant? Which brands score high, which brands have to get their sustainability act together, and what do they need to devote extra attention to? To what extent do consumers factor sustainability into their purchase decisions? And is this trend rising, levelling out, or even going down?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-27
Number of pages3
Volume45, no. 10
Issue number521
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


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