As I write this introduction to the June 30 issue of the Journal of Sustainable Marketing, I can’t help but think of a recent article in The Economist (The Economist, 2022) that refers to the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory, 3,400 meters above sea level on the Big Island in Hawai‘i. The article notes that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 30% higher than it was 64 years ago when measurements began and 50% higher than in pre-industrial times.
Daily, we see the disastrous effects of greenhouse gas-driven climate change on the lives of people, animals, and plants around the globe. The time for sustainable change is clearly now. And, from my perspective, marketers in the corporate for-profit and not-for-profit sectors have major roles to play in effecting such change. Within both sectors, whether one is considering sustainable product development, circular supply chain management, green consumption choice, effective sustainable marketing communications, or earth-friendly post-consumption behaviors, marketing is at the heart of ensuring that change occurs now before it is too late for those currently on the planet as well as those who will come in the future. Yet, addressing climate change and pollution is only one part of the needed change. Developing equitable, fair trade supply chains and nurturing, positive workplace environments is also critical. Here too marketers must play a central role.
Supporting managers on the front lines are dedicated marketing academics, who produce scholarly research that enhances theoretical understanding and provides applied guidance regarding effective ways to address Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues. I am proud to say that the June 2022 issue of the Journal of Sustainable Marketing (JSM) offers numerous important contributions to the theoretical and applied sides of sustainable marketing.
My sincere hope is that the articles in this issue will inspire more researchers to identify sustainable marketing topics within their areas of expertise that can be reviewed conceptually, explored in-depth qualitatively, or tested empirically and submitted to JSM for publication consideration. On our end, once accepted for publication, we will work diligently with our publisher, Luminous Insights, to ensure that your contribution reaches and impacts not only your academic colleagues, but also thousands of managers and policymakers who are searching for ways to make a difference in terms of their firm’s or organization’s ESG program. This additional “marketing” focus is somewhat unusual for an academic journal, but, given the clear and present need to reach out and foster real world change, JSM is committed to doing everything it can to be part of the solution to the unprecedented challenges faced by our planet.
In this issue, JSM presents six high quality articles that address varied issues in the sustainable marketing field. The first, titled “Is There a Market for Sustainable Healthcare,” is written by Hui, Menard, Ghobadi, Liu, and Phan - a team of medical professionals who have deep and abiding interests in identifying key sustainability challenges within the healthcare field. Their review provides several avenues for both academic and applied marketers to work with healthcare providers to address the critical sustainability challenges they raise.
The second article by Makov and Newman is titled “Psychological Barriers to Sustainability: Understanding Consumer Demand for Products with Redundant Functionalities.” Their empirical analysis employs multiple experiments that seek to increase understanding of the reasons why consumers tend to value a given product function (e.g., smartphone camera) less when it is part of a larger set of functions (e.g., on a smartphone) than when it is embodied as part of a single function product. Increasing our field’s understanding of this tendency can help marketers identify ways to help consumers repurpose products when a given function stops working, but others continue to work, thereby reducing the need to purchase duplicative, single-purpose products, e.g., an inexpensive, standalone camera.
In the third paper, titled “Signaling Sustainability: Exploring Consumer Perspectives on Communicating Apparel Sustainability Information,” Williams and Hodges present an in-depth qualitative analysis of consumer preferences for sustainability labeling on fashion. Their research indicates that including easily understood and seen point-of-purchase information on clothing regarding manufacturers’ adherence to ESG standards is central to reducing the well-known consumer green intention-behavior fashion purchase gap. This investigation provides several directions for future empirical tests of alternative approaches grounded in signaling theory.
Next, Bhawadraj, Naik, and Nath review the current marketing communications literature in order to provide both theoretical and applied insights on “Sustainability Communications and Corporate Brand Associations.” Their analysis results in several research propositions that address the potential impacts of firm and stakeholder ESG communications through various channels. In addition, their framework provides clear guidance for future research in this area while, at the same time, offering for-profit and not-for-profit firms preliminary conceptual direction that can be used as they conduct their strategic and tactical analyses.
The fifth article by Büyükayman, Shaheen, and Ossom is titled, “The Silver Lining of the Pandemic! The Impact of Risk Perception of COVID-19 on Green Foods Purchase Intention.” This study is a timely cross-sectional investigation that seeks to better understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer preferences for “green” foods, defined as foods that are produced following the principles of sustainable development, e.g., organically grown with minimal harm to the environment. Applying protection motivation theory, the authors find that COVID-19 risk perception positively predicts green food purchase intention. Several serial mediators such as health consciousness and environmental consciousness are also found to play significant roles in predicting green food purchase intentions. These findings offer interesting theoretical and managerial insights that appear likely to generalize beyond the current pandemic and national location of the authors’ study.
This issue concludes with another highly relevant analysis titled, “A Review of Benefits, Constraints, and Research Opportunities in the Markets for Voluntary Offset Investments.” In this paper, Dahlstrom provides an informative overview of alternative opportunities for firms to purchase carbon and biodiversity offset investments. He then examines the benefits and challenges experienced by firms that are interested in making such investments. Multiple future research directions are offered that provide guidance to marketing scholars who are interested in working in this very important area – an area that must play a critical role in funding carbon reduction and biodiversity enhancement programs needed to help the world achieve the global warming goals outlined in the 2015 Paris Accord.
As always, the JSM editorial staff would like to express our sincere appreciation to the many peer reviewers who provide insightful and positive feedback to authors – feedback that ultimately increases the value of the paper’s contribution to the field.
In addition, please take a moment to visit the Research Innovations in Sustainable Marketing (RISM2023) website (https://manoa.hawaii.edu/rism/) – the first online global, research-focused symposium, scheduled from March 14-16, 2023, that will feature top experts and high quality conceptual, qualitative, and quantitative research paper presentations. Submissions for presentation can be provided for blind, peer review to the RISM2023 Scientific Committee either as full papers or abstracts. Abstracts will be published in the RISM2023 online proceedings and highly publicized through social media and other channels. Full paper authors will have the option of having their work fast tracked for publication consideration in the June 2023 issue of the Journal of Sustainable Marketing.
Last, we welcome our readers’ input on potential special topics and/or other content possibilities that will advance theoretical and applied knowledge in our field. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding JSM or RISM2023, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.