Publicis Groupe Switzerland, Grownate AG and the University of St. Gallen have agreed on a cooperation in the field of "Sustainability of Brands" in order to create a well-founded scientific study on the perceived sustainability of companies. Of the three dimensions of sustainability, the study will analyze the environmental and social dimension.
The goal is to conduct a benchmarking study and qualitative case studies that examine the sustainability image of 100 selected companies from the perspective of the Swiss population. In total, 5555 people in Switzerland will be surveyed.
The companies included in the quantitative study are the result of a selection of about 700 companies, out of which 100 companies were chosen based on various criteria (advertisement spending, turnover, sector). In a two-step process, participants first select the companies that they are familiar with and on which they have an opinion regarding their sustainability. Then, participants answer detailed questions about two randomly selected companies out of the list created in the first step. Questions regarding sustainability are based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the environmental impacts along a product life cycle. In addition to the sustainability assessment, views on the brand personality and the overall impression of the company are also studied.
Based on multiple case studies, we illustrate how sustainability has changed the branding landscape and become an integral part of (corporate) brand communication. Rich qualitative data, including semi-structured interviews with sustainability, brand, and communication representatives of selected firms, as well as archival and visual data, will provide insights into what successful sustainability communication looks like.
SYNTHESIS & Suggestion FOR ACTION
The study will initially be limited to Switzerland and include B2C (main focus) as well as B2B companies. The project will focus exclusively on perceived sustainability from the perspective of different stakeholder groups (end consumer focus). The assessment of actual or objective sustainability of companies and brands is not part of this project. Core findings of the study will result in the benchmarking of 100 companies, brand- and communication strategies, and in defining and prioritizing factors that are directly relevant for a company to be perceived as sustainable in the eyes of the Swiss population.