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Does sustainability sell? The impact of sustainability claims on the success of national brands’ new product introductions
Journal of Business Research  (IF7.55),  Pub Date : 2021-08-23, DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2021.08.032
Jenny van Doorn, Hans Risselada, Peter C. Verhoef

In the hope of benefiting from the increasing focus on sustainability in Western markets, national brands are introducing new sustainable products. We investigate the success of new sustainable products with a unique dataset combining household panel data, consumer survey data, expert panel survey data, and advertising expenditure data. We show that sustainable new product introductions achieve lower sales than their conventional counterparts. Investing in corporate social responsibility activities compensates for this negative effect and is therefore a viable strategy to boost sales of new sustainable products. Importantly, making sustainable new products clearly innovative mitigates the negative effect of a sustainability claim on new product sales, whereas price promotions aggravate the negative effect. We furthermore caution that the negative effect of sustainability may not decrease as sustainability becomes more mainstream, even if our data covers a period before the currently increased interest in sustainability.