Greenwashing Techniques of Company Giants

Kovács, Kristóf (2021) Greenwashing Techniques of Company Giants. BA/BSc thesis, BCE Kommunikáció és Szociológia Intézet, Kommunikáció- és Médiatudomány Tanszék.

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The aim of the present thesis is to examine and discuss ethical consumerism (i.e. sustainable shopping habits) in the light of green advertisements and greenwashing. The topic was chosen due to its growing importance in previous years and the author’s personal interest in sustainability and the world of media manipulation via advertising and marketing strategies applied by company giants. The hypothesis to be tested is the following: H1: Due to the strong media pressure, a pseudo sustainable consumer habit has evolved in the general public. Moreover, the research questions addressed in the present paper are: RQ1: Is sustainability an important factor in today’s consumer society? RQ2: Is the term “Greenwashing” known by the general public? RQ3: How does the media contribute to sustainable consumption? RQ4: Would additional insight on “Greenwashing” create an attitude change in consumers? In the theoretical part of the present thesis, the conceptualization of media was presented, highlighting the importance of mass communication based on the works of excellent Hungarian and foreign researchers of the communication field such as Aczél et al. (2015), Barbier & Bertho (2004) and Stöber (2004). Moreover, key media effect theories that still carry a strong relevance in today’s green advertising strategies were examined following the ideas of Baran (2014) and Bajomi-Lázár (2017). The phenomenon of new media conceptualization was further observed by the thoughts of Aczél et al. (2015) and Lister et al. (2009). Subsequently, the definition of manipulation was examined in the wake of Síklaki (1994) and Arifhkanova (2010), and then an insight into the world of advertising was gained by considering the findings of Cook (2001) and Dyer (2008). The last section of the literature review gave a comprehensive outline of green advertisements and the phenomenon of greenwashing. To this end, considering the work of prominent researchers in the field, the types of green advertising in Hartmann & Apaolaza-Ibáñez (2009), Green & Peloza (2014), and Chang et al. (2015) were introduced. The concept of greenwashing was introduced and further analysed by the ideas of Delmas & Burbano (2011), Marquis & Toffel (2012) and Furlow (2010). Relying on Siano et al. (2017) a new type of greenwashing was examined which helped to understand how CSR and phenomena itself is connected. This was followed by the presentation of the three selected company giants, H&M, L'Oréal and Nestlé, highlighting the companies' sustainability commitments and some of their scandals related to greenwashing. A quantitative method was used in the empirical part of the thesis. An online survey of 343 participants revealed people’s sustainability-related shopping habits with an insight to Greenwashing of the three selected companies. The findings of the research led to the conclusion that a so-called pseudo sustainable consumer habit has evolved in the general public. Even though sustainability has become a crucial factor for consumers, other factors such as quality, favourable price and easy accessibility are still more relevant when it comes to purchases. The three companies introduced in the theoretical part of paper are proved to be popular among respondents, however a significant number of them choose more sustainable and environmentally friendly options as well, such as second-hand and vintage boutiques, organic cosmetics and primary producer-made food. The results of the questionnaire suggest that customers are influenced when a product is advertised as sustainable, and most of them feel better when they lift products with such a label off store shelves. Slightly more than half of the respondents (53.2%) are aware of the concept of Greenwashing, and most of them know the concept from social media platforms. The results showed that a significant proportion of respondents are somewhat influenced when a product is advertised as sustainable, and two thirds are more satisfied when they buy a product advertised as such. Despite this, however, more than half (52.5%) are unsure or do not know whether they would repurchase a product or from a brand if it turned out that they have misled consumers with greenwashing. In contrast, a significant proportion of respondents said that the media (both electronic and digital) does contribute to greenwashing, so it is assumed that consumers also see behind the green disguise of companies to some extent. An additional insight would enable a significant proportion of people to change their shopping habits to some extent as the final question of the survey has shown. However, regardless of this, the other factors that are more important to shoppers also have merit, but an important finding is that, given enough information, people would be willing to modify these.

Item Type:BA/BSc thesis
Subjects:Environmental economics, environment protection
Media and communication
ID Code:14659
Specialisation:Communication and Media Science
Deposited On:29 Aug 2022 09:45
Last Modified:29 Aug 2022 09:45

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