The Complexity of Consumer Trust in Sustainability Communication
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to gain insights on what evokes consumer trust for (environmental) sustainability communication and shed light on how this trust impacts consumers’ perception of sustainability. A literature review and qualitative data collection, combining four focus groups and nine interviews, were the basis for a discussion on this topic. This study found that what evokes trust in sustainability communication is a rather complex dynamic which previous research has failed to explore. Preexisting studies have instead focused on how a few attributes, such as the type of organization behind sustainability communication, affect trust. This study also concluded that consumers might provide one answer for what evokes their trust when asked in general, and another when given an example of sustainability communication to consider. Additionally, it was found that sustainability communication has a somewhat complex impact on consumer perception of sustainability. Although identifying high consumption levels in itself as a problem for environmental sustainability and expressing skepticism for environmental claims made by business, they were more focused on being sustainable by consuming sustainable products than decreasing their sustainability. This study concluded that this depended on the notion that changing what products to consume is easier than stopping to consume and the fact that business is trying to drive sales through sustainability communication and offers.
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