Company communication strategies for sustainability

Based on a representative empirical study among ultimate consumers (1000 interviews) and an empirical survey among 200 model companies in regard to sustainable management, communication strategies and concepts are developed.

Short Description




The project on hand aims at analyzing deficits in sustainability communication at the interface between business sector and the end-consumers, and at developing target group specific communication strategies. Therefore, benefit-providing aspects for sustainable products and services on the consumer side and success factors of sustainable management on the companies' side are discovered.

The results of the consumer study show that the term sustainability and especially its concise content is little known in the Austrian population and that the ecological component prevails. The sustainability argument for itself consitutes only to a limited degree a relevant behavioural motive, but should rather be interpreted as an additional benefit. Direct effects on disposition to buy or willingness to pay cannot be achieved in the short run due to the stability of brand images, but require long-term communication processes and an appropriate basic involvement of the consumers. Environmental protection, however, is all in all a relevant motive, "green overkill" effects discussed in literature could not be verified.

In view of today's pluralistic society, segments according to psychographical variables and consumption habits were formed, which require individual approaches regarding the choice of sender, message and media. The communication concept based on this segmentation shows that, depending on the specific target group, quality and health aspects, brand and prestige, ecology and consideration of future generations can be used as benefit-providing motives for message creation. For all segments, the sender should be characterized by independency, credibility, transparency and partner orientation. State and political parties are less suited as senders.

On the companies' side, both goals and effects mainly aim at company image and competitive advantages based on image differentiation, as well as on cost reduction. Main barriers are lack of acceptance by employees and costs arising at the initial implementation. From the analysis of successful sustainably managing companies general recommendations can be derived, depending on the intended effect. In general, communication plays an important role, although there is a clear discrepancy between communicative demands of different target groups and communication contents presently used by sustainably managing companies. In order to be able to achieve competitive advantages in the future as well, the concise motive structures and benefit expectations of consumers must be considered more distinctly.

Project Partners

Project manager

Dr. Christian Bosch
marketmind Dr. Friederes & Dr. Priemer OHG


  • Dr. Wolfgang Rejzlik
  • Mag.(FH) Manuela Hofmann

Contact Address

marketmind Dr. Friederes & Dr. Priemer OHG
Dipl.-Wi.-Ing. Dr. Gereon Friederes
Porzellangasse 32, 1090 Wien
Tel.: +43-1-3694626-14
Fax: +43-1-369 46 26-33