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Encouraging consumption reduction: Findings of a qualitative study with clothing companies on sufficiency-promoting communication

Sufficiency aims at reducing resource consumption and thus requires individual behaviour change. Although it seems counterintuitive at first glance, companies can support sufficiency-oriented, cleaner consumption as part of their societal responsibility. This article investigates motives for sufficiency-promoting business communication and explores related challenges resulting from the economic growth paradigm. Furthermore, it asks which digital tools are used in this communication and for what reasons. The explorative interview study with six German sufficiency-oriented clothing companies of the apparel sector reveals the significance of corporate sustainability values and strategic motives such as reputational benefits and customer loyalty. Since the companies are only pursuing moderate growth, the concurrence of supporting sufficiency and operating in a growth-driven economy is perceived as an area of tension but does not endanger their existence. Benefits of digital marketing arise from the wider audiences, cost efficiency and effective targeting. Future research opportunities entail qualitative and quantitative research to further investigate motives and barriers with different types of companies and to improve understanding of how companies ensure their continued existence whilst promoting less consumption. With our study, we explore the role communication can play in encouraging cleaner and sufficiency-oriented consumption and thus contribute to a young but flourishing research field.

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