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Venue | Istanbul Expo Center

What Does The Notion of Sustainability Mean in The Minds of Consumers?

Estimate Reading Time: 2 min

Published on November 2023

As jewelers increasingly focus on how to run a sustainable business, new academic research reveals three key factors that will sharpen the positioning and marketing communications efforts of brands claiming to be 'sustainable'.

According to a new study by the Vlerick Business School, when a company claims to be 'sustainable', consumers think it is about its commitment to 'circularity' and 'naturalness' and/or 'social equity'.

Companies can benefit from actively incorporating the operational indicators behind these connotative concepts into their brand positioning and marketing communication efforts towards consumers.

'Circularity' brings together connotative elements in the minds of consumers related to the non-consumption of natural resources and the reuse of materials (e.g. 'circular economy initiatives', 'recycling programs', 'restoration/renewal of natural resources').
This is increasing in the jewelry sector, with a number of businesses offering jewelry 'recycling services'.

'Naturalness' combines elements related to the use of non-artificial production methods and the resulting products. Examples include 'no chemicals in production', 'no pesticides on vegetables', 'no GMO products'.

Finally, 'social equity' brings together elements related to the need to 'care for people'. Examples include 'gender equality', 'fair wages' or 'good working conditions'.

"Sustainability is increasingly being proposed as an overarching goal to transform the way we live, work and consume, and more and more consumers want to buy from brands they know are sustainable in their practices," says Frank Goedertier.

"However, it is unclear what practices consumers actually associate with (or expect from) a brand that claims to be 'sustainable'.

"Our findings reveal specific concepts that can enable companies to position their brands on sustainability in a way that reflects the practices and aspects that consumers associate with the concept."

The researchers say the findings are particularly interesting as previous literature has focused on separating both social and environmental factors when it comes to sustainability; by shedding light on how consumers view sustainability, they hope the findings will help companies create more effective and consumer-relevant sustainability communications and actions.



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