Exploring what substainabilty as a value orientation and corporate strategy entails in the branding process of FMCG

Anita Tøraasen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The importance of sustainability is receiving attention from scholars, policy makers and companies. Sustainability is not just a governmental issue any more, today, there is a growing interest from companies to learn more about the concept. Sustainability can be characterized as the new business megatrend and more and more companies are implementing sustainability initiatives. Along this trend, are companies recognizing the value of brands and starting to acknowledge their brands as one of their strongest assets. This raises the strategic importance of brand management in a world that is becoming increasingly complex, global and transparent. From a company perspective is brand building a major issue, because strong brands play a vital role in consumer choice situations and is a vital way to differentiate from increased competition in commercial markets. This is especially evident within the FMCG industry, where brand management plays a vital role for market competitiveness. And as a growing number of companies are becoming committed to sustainability it becomes interesting to look into how the two concepts can be aligned. It is claimed that an integration of the two concepts is a win-win situation and a way to beat the increased competition in the market place. The idea behind this view is that the two concepts could provide companies with extensive benefits and also secure external support from stakeholders. Also, as companies need to recognize that the way they conduct business have an impact on future developments, sustainability may be one solution to secure the future. The potential of aligning the two theoretical concepts is not yet deeply exploited within the literature and hence is the purpose of this study is to identify what the integration of sustainability, as a value orientation and perspective, into an existing brand and brand management framework implies. Through a case study of the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry, the scope for sustainability, processes and relationships between sustainability and the brand management logic, the necessary capabilities for integrating sustainability into brands and a already existing branding framework, and the outcome in terms of issues, changes and new resources are examined. Hence, a qualitative case study was selected as the most appropriate method to answer the research question of this study: What might be the challenge for a brand manager in a Fastt Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company who is eager to follow the sustainability trend, and already have a strong brand and an excellent branding framework, considering brand equity performance measures? It became visible throughout this study that companies’ perspective on sustainability has changed over the last decades and that managers within the consumer goods industry see the value of sustainability. However, it is also clear that many of these companies have a performance gap considering their commitment versus their performance. It is also questionable whether they’re strong obligation to sustainability issues are driven by consumer and regulative demands or their own genuine commitment to sustainability. The main findings of this study are that the integration of sustainability into an existing brand and brand management framework pose several new challenges, requirements and opportunities, and when considering the integration of sustainability into brands and brand management, may this require a partial rethinking of the current requirements and tasks of the brand manager.

EducationsMSc in Accounting, Strategy and Control, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages99