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Digitalization of markets and lifestyles – new challenges for sustainable consumption. State of research and recommendations

This report presents an overview of research and practice examples on links and effects of digitalization on sustainable consumption. Various aspects of digital transformation influence the sustainability of consumption: The access and transparency of prices, product- and service quality is enhanced due to search engines and online reviews on comparison sites and online-shops, allowing the user to make more informed purchase decisions. The use of digital appliances changes the steps in consumption processes. There is now more intense communication between organizations and customers on responsive platforms, social media or comparison sites. And last but not least, the energy and resource use has increased for infrastructures of consumption-related digital appliances, as well as for the increased logistic transport of products acquired through e-commerce.

The report presents the state of research, selected best practice examples and on the basis of these insights, recommendations for policy and practice were developed in four areas of application: sustainable e-commerce; search engines, comparison sites and online-marketing; digital initiatives for sustainable consumption; and digital competences for consumers. The analysis brought to light several chances, but also risks and limitations for fostering sustainable consumption in context of and with the help of digitalization.

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