Overcoming Greenwashing : The ways of resolving the state of cognitive dissonance after being exposed to the greenwashing activity of fast fashion brands

Keresztes, Réka (2021) Overcoming Greenwashing : The ways of resolving the state of cognitive dissonance after being exposed to the greenwashing activity of fast fashion brands. BA/BSc thesis, BCE, International Study Programs. Szabadon elérhető változat / Unrestricted version: http://publikaciok.lib.uni-corvinus.hu/publikus/szd/Keresztes_Reka.pdf

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The thesis aims to gain deep insights into the ways consumers resolve the state of cognitive dissonance created by the greenwashing activities of multinational fast fashion brands. The research seeks to understand consumer decision-making when greenwashing comes to light, including how they get to the state of cognitive dissonance and their process of overcoming such an inconvenient state. The conclusion is made through the example of H&M and by following the framework of Festinger (1957). The thesis introduces the theoretical background, explaining core concepts including sustainable competitive advantage, eco-marketing, greenwashing, its effect on buyer’s decision-making and cognitive dissonance; furthermore, the environmental impact and greenwashing practice of the fast fashion industry. The second section justifies the research methodology. As there have been no previous studies on this particular subject, primary research is conducted. Qualitative methodology is applied in the form of focus group interviews to understand consumers' personal perspectives and thoughts profoundly. The interview’s backbone is provided by the case study formulated from the real-time greenwashing activities of a multinational fast fashion giant, H&M. The following research question is proposed: How do consumers resolve the cognitive dissonance created by the greenwashing activities of fast fashion brands? The fourth section presents the results of the interviews based on which 10 findings are formulated. The findings are categorized under three main themes: (1) Consumer perceptions about sustainable companies, which supports the findings of already existing qualitative research; (2) The effect of greenwashing on consumers, which segment covers how consumers react to greenwashing messages and get into the state of cognitive dissonance and (3) The influence of greenwashing on buyer’s decision making, which includes how consumers overcome the state of cognitive dissonance and its influence on future buyer behavior. The conclusion is that green initiatives of fast fashion brands do not leverage so many benefits, which would be worth the risk of the adverse effects on brand reputation and decreasing purchases in case of greenwashing is revealed. The buyer decision of consumers with low sustainable efforts do not change significantly to sustainable corporate initiatives in the first place, but greenwashing causes negative feelings in them. Highly conscious consumers do not choose these stores either because of sustainable factors; however, when greenwashing is revealed, they reduce cognitive dissonance by decreasing their purchases at fast fashion stores and by finding new alternatives. We can see from above that once the truth behind the dishonest communication of fast fashion brands comes to light, it has a serious counter effect on consumer decision making, which leads brands to arrive in a worse position compared to where they have been previously. Therefore, it is recommended for companies to keep clean their green practices at all times so that they never have to greenwash them again.

Item Type:BA/BSc thesis
ID Code:13977
Specialisation:International Business Economics
Deposited On:04 Oct 2021 10:40
Last Modified:29 Nov 2021 11:47

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