University of Oulu

Sustainable brand identity communications in social media influencing consumers’ intention to behave sustainably

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Author: Koski, Jenna1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Pages: 149
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : J. Koski, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-03-23
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Juntunen, Mari
Reviewer: Juga, Jari
Juntunen, Mari


The world is consuming at such a rate that 1,75 Earths would be needed to endure the effects. The effects of consumption on sustainable development have long been acknowledged, as is the role of marketing discipline in encouraging consumption, showcasing a need for the discipline to change, however still consumption continues to rise. The purpose of this research is to create an empirically validated framework for the influence of sustainable brand identity communications in social media on consumers’ intention to behave sustainably. The research focuses on an SME operating in the fashion industry and poses sustainable brands with sustainability as their core value to be a solution into influencing consumers’ behavioral intention. Theories of sustainability marketing, branding and consumption, theories of sustainability communications and the theory of planned behavior were applied in creating the theoretical framework. The research is qualitative to pre-test the theoretical framework for future quantitative research. Two qualitative research methods were applied; content analysis of the case company’s Instagram feed to study what kind sustainability content is communicated, and interviews of the case company’s potential customers to study how the communications and content resonates to consumers, and lastly, if the content affects the consumers’ consumption behavior through the theory of planned behavior.

The research resulted in three theoretical contributions. The research created a theoretical framework for studying the influence of sustainable brand identity communications in social media on consumers’ intention to behave sustainably and a framework for analyzing sustainable brand identity communications in social media. The research also validated the two frameworks empirically. The results demonstrated that consumers’ intention to behave sustainably may be influenced with brand identity communications in social media by influencing consumers’ attitudes and self-efficacy. Effect on consumers’ descriptive norms was not realized. Also, the research showcased that brands can communicate their sustainable identity to consumers through social media content, and that consumers can and do create a perception of the brand’s sustainability based on the brand’s social media content. Lastly, the research contributed several methods on how to create influential sustainable brand identity communications in social media, reported consumers’ perceptions of the communications, and the effects of those communications on consumers.

The limitations of this study arise from the limited research on sustainability branding and communications as well as the research being unable to study actual behavior. Moreover, as the results are not statistically generalizable, the qualitative nature of the research may be considered as a limitation. Further research suggestions include adapting the research into another qualitative context and to test the framework quantitatively to validate it further.

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Copyright information: © Jenna Koski, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.