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Sustainable retailing : German grocery retailers and their challenge of communicating sustainability

  • Enforcing and communicating sustainability is one of the biggest challenges for retailers in today’s business eironment. Retailers are facing pressure from various stakeholders since the topic of sustainability is constantly moving up the agendas of companies, politics, and the media. Additionally, it is intensely discussed by a critical public. This dissertation consists of three related studies – one conceptual study and two research studies – that analyze sustainable behavior, reporting and communication in grocery retailing in Germany. In particular, sustainable behavior is compared across different retail formats. In the first study, the business model of grocery discounters and supermarkets is compared with respect to the impact on sustainability. The cost-leadership strategy applied by discounters is analyzed regarding its influence on strong and weak sustainability. The second article focuses on supermarkets, discounters and organic supermarkets. Based on the sustainability reports it is examined which information is disclosed and which legitimation strategies are applied if negative impacts have to be reported. The analysis revealed that, even within the same industry and country, a wide range with respect to quality levels of sustainability reporting exists. Furthermore, all retailers are reluctant about reporting negative aspects and frequently use similar legitimation strategies. The third article deals with communication of sustainability of both supermarkets and discounters comparing sustainability reporting and communication in the stores. It is shown that no clear difference between sustainability reporting of discounters and supermarkets was observable. However, supermarkets outperformed discounters with respect to in-store communication.

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Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Author:Marcus Saber
Contributor(s):Manfred Kirchgeorg, Andreas Suchanek
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Marketing Management and Sustainability
Full text/ URN:urn:nbn:de:bsz:14-qucosa2-336884
Title Additional (English):Dissertation
Place of publication:Leipzig
Year of Completion:2018
Page Number:V, 128