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EMAC 2023 Annual

The Effectiveness of Sustainable Marketing Messages: Trading Off Sustainability and Conventional Product Attributes

Published: May 24, 2023


Lukas Schnabl, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management; Beatrice Martin, RWTH Aachen; Christina Reh, Hochschule Luzern; Christian Schlereth, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management; Anna-Karina Schmitz, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management


Communicating sustainability attributes has become vital in marketing. However, sustainability is a broad term; there is no understanding which sustainability attributes consumers appreciate and whether to frame them with a positive or negative focus. This research manipulates the framing and ranks sustainability attributes in a best-worst experiment. It examines the trade-offs to conventional attribute importance when we add sustainability claims using a discrete-choice experiment and a covariate-extended hierarchical Bayes logit estimator. The studies reveal that sustainability claims can lower the importance of conventional product attributes but not price sensitivity. Negative consistently performs better than positive framing. There is a bigger lever in communicating sustainability claims on choosing the relevant sustainability attributes and how to frame them than solely re-working pricing strategies. This paper gives insights to managers on how to foster sustainable consumption.