All for one and one for all: Targeting sustainability - the revival of ‘virtues’ in research and results

Nicole Hanisch, Jens Lönneker and Yvonne Masopust
Rheingold - Institute for Qualitative Market and Media Research, Germany and Unilever, Austria


Research briefs are chock-full of requirements and demands for sustainable communication. Companies feel scrutinised for ‘ethical behaviour’ and are challenged to act. Sustainability is a key issue of our time. Due to Fukushima, 90% of Italians recently voted against nuclear energy! Institutions like Foodwatch, Greenpeace, and Ökotest are on the rise, giving consumers a sense of new control. Even the companies themselves have started guaranteeing consumers more control and transparency over product quality.

Sustainability is a buzzword for companies, but it is also the first sign of a new culture. Western cultures are ‘ego’ cultures, in which greed and avarice (people are looking for more and cheaper products) – formerly deadly sins – are considered cool and clever. Marketing itself is only seen as successful if it manages to increase sales/margins and capture the market.