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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Social media as a boost for sustainable consumption

This paper aims at generating insight into influence of social media on consumers’ sustainable behavior on example of young mothers. In the study a netnography methodology was adopted, based on Facebook groups for mothers. Firstly, members’ entries posted on Facebook were analysed using observation technique. Afterwards, interviews were made with individuals representing different levels of sustainability awareness. The findings suggest being part of social media communities increase sustainability awareness among young mothers as consumers. The study enabled to identify 4 main types of consumers according to their level of sustainability awareness. First of all there are consumers who are highly educated about sustainability and like to share their knowledge with others and promote sustainable consumption in several ways. Second of all, there are consumers who look for support in that matter, they already have basic awareness about sustainable consumption but are still looking for suggestions and advice. Third group is composed by those who were unaware, but become educated by other social media community members and are willing to become more sustainable. Lastly, there were identified opponents, who do not believe in sustainable consumption and criticize it. Findings reveal how social media can improve consumers’ understanding of sustainable consumption and be useful in spreading the sustainability awareness among different social groups. Due to the fact that the process is based on sharing experience between community members, the effectiveness in genuinely raising awareness of importance of sustainable consumption is high. However, this study only investigates one type of online community, based on one of the most popular social media among consumers - Facebook. To gain deeper insight, other online communities shall be examined. Study focused on mothers, future research thus may wish to validate the findings across different context.. This research is unique by using netnography approach to examine the issue of consumer sustainable behavior within social media communities, and therefore allowing a unique understanding of the phenomenon.

Marta Grybś-Kabocik
University of Economics in Katowice


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