Seeking Sustainable Futures in marketing and consumer research

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  • Iain A Davies
  • Caroline Oates
  • C Tynan
  • Marylyn Carrigan
  • K Casey
  • Teresa Pereira-Heath
  • Claudia Henninger
  • M Lichrou
  • Pierre McDonagh
  • S McDonald
  • S McKechnie
  • F McLeay
  • L O’Malley
  • Victoria Wells


Publication details

JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
DateAccepted/In press - 7 Apr 2020
DatePublished (current) - 23 Sep 2020
Issue number11
Number of pages29
Pages (from-to)2911-2939
Original languageEnglish


Purpose Seeking ways towards a sustainable future is the most dominant socio-political
challenge of our time. Marketing should have a crucial role to play in leading research and
impact in sustainability, yet it is limited by relying on cognitive behavioural theories rooted
in the 1970s, which have proved to have little bearing on actual behaviour. This paper
interrogates why marketing is failing to address the challenge of sustainability, and identifies
alternative approaches.
Design/methodology The constraint in theoretical development contextualises the problem,
followed by a focus on four key themes to promote theory development: developing
sustainable people; models of alternative consumption; building towards sustainable
marketplaces; and theoretical domains for the future. These themes were developed and
refined during the 2018 Academy of Marketing workshop on seeking sustainable futures.
MacInnis’s (2011) framework for conceptual contributions in marketing provides the
narrative thread and structure.
Findings The current state of play is explicated, combining the four themes and MacInnis’s
framework to identify the failures and gaps in extant approaches to the field.
Research Implications This paper sets a new research agenda for the marketing discipline in
our quest for sustainable futures in marketing and consumer research.
Practical Implications Approaches are proposed which will allow the transformation of the
dominant socio-economic systems towards a model capable of promoting a sustainable

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