'Sustainable' Brand Messages in the Furniture Industry: Using Empirical Generalisations to Measure Customers Perceptions

Kjartan Nysveen Vagle

Student thesis: Master thesis


The sustainability trend is perhaps one of the most significant phenomena in marketing and brand communication this past decade. Today, sustainability is no longer an image attribute reserved for small ‘green brands’ with expensive, or lower quality product alternatives. Instead, the attribute has grown into becoming practically expected for brands of all sizes and across numerous product categories. Based on literature on important empirical generalizations and a brand image consumer survey, this thesis seeks insight on the current state of ‘sustainable’ brand attributes in the Norwegian furniture market. The methodology is designed to expose the influence heavily promoted sustainable brand messages have made in the chosen industry as a whole. This includes identifying differences between individual brands, and to make valid comparisons between ‘sustainability’ and other marketed attributes. Some brands achieved higher response levels than others, and by using a technique introduced by researchers Sharp and Romaniuk (2000), these numbers could be adjusted for brand sizes and compared accordingly. Following this approach, findings in this study indicate that some of the smaller brands have somewhat succeeded in developing sustainable brand images, more than what’s expected for their sizes at least. Further, cross purchase analysis and attribute correlation revealed a sub-category within the broader furniture market. Application of the prototypicality construct showed, however, that the market partition is not driven by sustainable brand images. This finding indicates that there is little reward for sustainable brands in the category, confirming prior research on the subject. This thesis provides an indicative framework for brand managers and product developers who seek strategic incorporation of ethical or ‘sustainable’ attributes. Even though sustainability may be of little value when it comes to actual purchases in the category, the attribute can help build and maintain brands. Because of the generally low level of responses attained for sustainable attributes, theory suggests that better advertising and sustainable business strategies have the potential to gain more distinct brand images using the attribute in the future.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages92
SupervisorsChristian Garmann Johnsen