Sustainable actions before profit? : The effects of sustainability efforts on the brand experience in the clothing industry exemplary represented on Patagonia
Sammanfattning: Background: In today ́s world, experiences play an important role for the customers to build loyalty and long-lasting relationships. Brakus et al. (2009) developed one of the most cited scales for measuring brand experience. Especially the clothing industry has a higher interest to create an overall experience since they are operating in different markets. Moreover, sustainability became a huge trend pushing companies to implement sustainable practices. This trend can also be recognized in the clothing industry which makes up 8.1 % of the whole greenhouse gas emissions globally and customers are more and more aware of this. Companies need to change their overall approach to how they produce and how they communicate, to avoid being labelled as a greenwashing company. In the outdoor-clothing industry, Patagonia is one of the most successful brands – heavily focusing on sustainability. Their brand experience could be one factor for their success, which makes this brand an interesting case to further study this concept. Yet there is limited research on this topic in the literature, no study applied the BXS to one specific company nor into the context of sustainability in the clothing industry. Purpose: The purpose of the study is to investigate and analyse the brand experience of the outdoor-clothing brand Patagonia with the aim of identifying the effects of sustainability efforts on the brand experience. Method: To investigate the research question appropriately a qualitative research has been conducted by interviewing 13 customers of Patagonia. To structure the study adequately, we relied on the brand experience scale of Brakus et al. (2009) referring to a deductive approach. Nevertheless, inductive elements influenced our sampling process and the data analysis to develop the new model green brand experience by considering the sustainability efforts of Patagonia. Conclusion: The findings revealed that the brand experience scale by Brakus et al. (2009) is applicable, and all dimensions are influenced by the brand experience. Furthermore, two additional dimensions were identified: green brand trust and green brand image. In the end, a new model named green brand experience is presented. It consists of 6 dimensions which are described through items that show the strongest influence in each dimension. As a conclusion, recommendations for strategies and tools for sustainable companies are given to create a green brand experience. Aside from honest and clear communication, the mission to act sustainable should be in the focus of the experience ahead of promoting their own products.
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