Making sustainability a part of the event - A study on how sustainable marketing communication is applied in the event industry

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: Purpose This study aspires to add theoretical understanding of how sustainable marketing communication is applied in the event industry’s digital media channels. By assessing how events transform their organisational sustainability goals into messages in their digital media channels we aim to understand how different ways of communicating can engage consumers. Thereby, the aspiration is to add to the practical understanding on how to make sustainability a natural part of the consumption of events. Design/Method/Approach To achieve the purpose of understanding sustainable marketing communication in digital media channels, a netnographic method was applied. Data was gathered from the digital media channels of four events taking place in the Swedish city of Gothenburg: Gothia Cup, Gothenburg Horse Show, Summerburst and Way Out West. Findings The results indicate that event organisations utilise five different approaches to communicate their sustainability objectives namely Increase Awareness, Empowerment, Sustainable Choice, Convince and CSR. The former four were suggested by Emery (2012) whereas the latter emerged in the study based on theoretical understanding of CSR (Belz & Peattie, 2009). Event organisers include stakeholders to add credibility to the message. Kilgour, Sasser, and Larke (2015) suggest incorporating influencers which were found alongside Partners, Participants and Celebrity Endorsers. Sustainable Marketing Communication in this context results in similar levels of consumer engagement as regular content in terms of likes, mentions, comments and shares. A less engaged consumer solely likes whereas the more engaged consumers engage in sharing and commenting which is desirable to create sustainable change outside of digital media channels. Originality The study adds value to existing literature of sustainable marketing communication by providing insights in how it is applied in the events industry.

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