Promoting sustainable consumption

Sustainable CX Promoting sustainable consumption

Published on 21.09.2021 by Prof. Dr. Dominik Georgi, Head of Competence Center Marketing Management, IKM, HSLU

The lockdowns have shown that greater sustainability is attainable. Yet consumers don’t always manage to adopt such behaviour. Companies can help and, in turn, make their customer experience sustainable and create a greater sense of purpose for their customers.

The coronavirus lockdowns have boosted the trend towards increased sustainability – partly due to measures imposed and partly by triggering greater awareness. We’ve seen various behavioural patterns more frequently, such as working from home, less business travel, more trips to nature, more family time, more home cooking/baking and more walking. We determined these findings – with the support of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and in cooperation with the LINK Institute – in four surveys on sustainable consumer behaviour (April 2020, June 2020, October 2020, April 2021). Some of the behavioural patterns have become part of the new normal while, others have changed again over the course of time (see fig. 1).

Change in sustainable behavioural patterns since the first lockdown
Fig. 1: Change in sustainable behavioural patterns since the first lockdown

Consumers act less sustainably than they would like

The impact of the lockdowns has clearly shown that a relevant change of behaviour is possible. It also reveals that many consumers would like to be more eco-friendly that they are at the moment. This is due to attitude-behaviour gaps. We don’t always succeed in putting our convictions and plans into practice. Fig. 2 shows whether consumers have already changed their behaviour and how difficult they found it for various behaviours. For example, we can see changes of behaviour in terms of “less refuse”, but major difficulties have been encountered when it comes to putting it into practice. For “less meat consumption”, fewer consumers changed their behaviour and significant challenges were also observed.

Fig. 2: Problems with adopting sustainable behaviour

Opportunity for companies

Companies can create additional benefits for consumers by helping them to adopt more sustainable habits. There’s a variety of options out there. Gamification (e.g. competitions, rankings) can be used to create incentives for more sustainable behaviour. Online shops could highlight that slightly longer delivery times are more eco-friendly. And manufacturers can make their customers aware that they could use consumer goods for longer, have them repaired or at least pass them on, instead of throwing them away.

Such measures can enrich the customer experience with a sustainability component. To some extent, they can also emphasize the fun side of the customer experience. Meanwhile, companies can use them to help their customers find and achieve a purpose.

In our “Sustainable consumer behaviour” research project (Mercator Switzerland Foundation), we use specific case studies to look at attitude-behaviour gaps and ways of encouraging and inspiring consumers to adopt more sustainable habits.


Due to the current situation, Connecta Bern will again be held as a digital event in 2021. Connecta is renowned for shining a light on the diverse nature of digitization, and this year will be no different, with content presented across the three formats of Connecta Blog, Connecta TV and Connecta Talk. Find out more here:


Prof. Dr. Dominik Georgi, Head of Competence Center Marketing Management, IKM, HSLU

Key research areas: customer relationships, sustainable consumer behaviour, sharing economy

Portrait Dominik Georgi

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