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Sustainability Service In-Store: Service Work and the Promotion of Sustainable Consumption

Journal article
Authors Christian Fuentes
Cecilia Fredriksson
Published in International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management
Volume 44
Issue 5
Pages 492 - 507
ISSN 0959-0552
Publication year 2016
Published at Centre for Retailing
Centre for Business in Society
Centre for Consumer Science
Pages 492 - 507
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-06-2015-00...
Keywords Service, Sustainability, Sustainable consumption, Practice theory, Green retail, Store
Subject categories Business Administration, Economics and Business

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore, illustrate, and conceptualize how sustainability service is performed and the role it plays in the promotion of sustainable consumption. Design/methodology/approach – Theoretically, this paper takes a practice theory approach, conceptualizing the provision of sustainability service as a set of complex, socio-material, and performative practices. Methodologically, this paper draws on an ethnographic study of a retail chain – W-Store – and its sustainability service. Interviews with management and focus group interviews with shop assistants and consumers, as well as observations made in-store, make up the material analysed. Findings – The provision of sustainability service is accomplished in this case via three service practices; arranging green shopping trails, answering sustainability questions, and promoting sustainability to green consumers in-store. The analysis shows that the retailing of sustainable products is not simply a matter of including sustainability products in the range and instructing shop assistants to promote them. Sustainability service – as enacted at W-Store – was dependent on the successful combination and configuration of human competence (service staff) and IT and organizational artefacts. There also needed to be congruence between consumers and their images and between retailers and the version of sustainability they were enacting. Finally, the provision of sustainability service required an investigative and adaptive organization capable of keeping up as well as developing vis-á-vis changing sustainability discourses and issues. However, once the necessary conditions had been met, sustainability service worked towards promoting sustainable consumption by making green shopping possible, educating consumers on sustainability issues, and motivating them via positive feedback and dialogue. Originality/value – Underscores the importance of investigating sustainability service and offers both a conceptual approach to and an analysis of this particular type of retail service work.

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