Oplevelsen af bæredygtighed

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Sarai Løkkegaard
  • Kristina Skovgaard Pedersen
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
Abstract

This master thesis takes its starting point in two very different concepts; sustainability and experiences. Through theoretical and analytical efforts the thesis explores what kind of potential exists when sustainability is communicated through experiences.

Problem statement
Our society today is characterised by being over-communicated. Furthermore, responsibility in all shapes and sizes seems to be on everyone’s agenda – both in terms of politicians and private consumers as well as organisations and companies. While there is a global focus on social, economical and environmental sustainability, a paradox seems to occur when it comes to converting it into actions. While many consumers want to be responsible and sustainable in their actions, the reality can often prove it to be both difficult, time consuming and even ‘boring’, which increases the risks for the sustainable actions to be compromised. Generally seen, sustainability seems to be shrouded in a relativity discourse and an overpowering guilt thematic, which implies that sustainable consumption does not come across as an attractive and desirable option to the consumers.

In regards to companies and their sustainability we also see some unfortunate tendencies. From our point of view there seems to be a rather ‘typical’ and informative approach when it comes to corporate communication about sustainability. This implies that the sustainability comes across as superficial and distant. In our over-communicated society this does not seem to be penetrating.

Thus the objective of this master thesis is to examine how sustainability, through experiences, can become both manageable and appealing or in other words; how it can become a positive and desirable option to the consumers, whilst it becomes possible for the companies to differentiate and position themselves on.

Theoretical approach
Through a theoretical approach, this thesis clarifies how experiences can be comprehended as something that is based primarily on emotions, whilst sustainability can be said to be the exact opposite. Caused by the mere distant threats, in which the need for sustainability origins, the decision about sustainability becomes more a matter of rational, practical and cognitive assessment and less a matter of pleasure and emotions.

By communicating sustainability through experiences it thus becomes possible to make it into something less practical and more pleasurable. Through experiences, it becomes possible for companies to make sustainability desirable and thereby motivate consumers instead of guilt them into sustainable actions. This enables an experience of sustainability to occur, and by this companies can appear more interesting and appealing, since they offer something of importance to the consumers, namely a positive experience, which helps promote their lifestyles.

Empirical approach
The methodical approach of this master thesis is characterised by being ideographic, inductive and qualitative. Through two empirical case studies we explore how communicating sustainability through experiences can be addressed in practice. Whereas one of the case studies illustrates the typical approach, the other is more atypical. Only in the latter is the experience of sustainability established successfully. Through a profound analysis and comparison of the two cases, the thesis identifies some characteristic effects, which seems to be crucial in order to create and make possible the experience of sustainability in practice.

A business-oriented view
Through these analyses combined with theoretical insights, the purpose of the master thesis is to develop a communicative and business-oriented platform, which contains some instructions targeted at those companies, who wish to create an experience of sustainability. Thus, the aim of this platform is action-oriented as it seeks to provide some general insights on how companies – through a coherent and holistic concept, in which sustainability is closely integrated, and which in full expresses credibility, sincerity, intimacy and authenticity – can create the experience of sustainability. Hence, the purpose of the platform will be to show companies how to make their corporate sustainability activities and communication more performative rather than informative.

New findings
From a communicative point of view the combination of sustainability and experiences constitute a relatively new turf, which seems to be rather unexplored. Through a strategic and explorative process the overall purpose of this master thesis is to generate some new and feasible knowledge about the combination of the two concepts; sustainability and experiences.
LanguageDanish
Publication date31 May 2012
Number of pages138
ID: 63418641