top of page

Meaningful Consumption: Why sustainability is not a marketing-Label

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Shredded Fast Food Bag


Seals, seals and more seals... We have shown that this flood of seals has greatly reduced credibility. Read more? This way:

Yes, circular economy, green deal & co. are changing economy and society and a lot is changing rapidly - also the communication in, by and around companies. Read the following:

  • Why sustainable communication of your company should have a strong foundation

  • Why sustainability in communication needs real Reason-To-Believes

  • Why sustainability is not a nice-to-have but a must-have in today's communication.

  • Why target groups and customers will see through you if you only communicate sustainability superficially

Arrived at the top

The world of shopping and brands has changed dramatically. Back then, we started out with a pure satisfaction of needs - a full refrigerator as a symbol of prosperity - but our shopping today reacts less to the emptiness in the fridge....

Mad Men Poster

...than on those in our souls. Much has changed compared to the golden age of the advertising industry - like Mad Men* as a symbol of the golden advertising years - when words could still sell everything.

Instead of focusing on product features, brands today have to adopt an attitude and offer their consumers a sense of meaning.

Yes, consumption has even mutated into an act of finding identity, even of emotionalizing self-development. And not only in the everyday, visible, tangible consumer goods. Everything around us is supposed to do one thing: show belonging and give meaning. Electricity has to be green and "of course I buy organic!" Our consumption is more expressive today than ever before. In other words:

* US-amerikanische Drama-Serie über eine fiktive New Yorker Werbeagentur in den 1960er-Jahren

Maslow: we have reached the top.

Maslow Pyramid of needs

Souce: Maslow Pyramid of needs

Whereas in the days of Mad Men, needs such as material and professional security as well as status were at the center of corporate communications and marketing, nowadays the focus is shifting to needs that build on these. As a rule, security and social needs no longer trigger purchases. On the other hand, self-fulfillment and the creation of meaning for everyone - and this on a very individual basis - must be shown and radiated by brands today in order to be perceived and classified as relevant.

Woman who looks into a shopping bag.

Self-realization and a sense of purpose - these drivers have picked up speed and, over time, have developed a force that has now formed a massive trend: Sustainability.

Sexy sustainability: Buying good is fun

Do you know LOHAS? The term was coined almost 20 years ago in the USA to describe a lifestyle of sustainability and health. "LOHAS" accordingly stands for "Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability". Marketing in Germany discovered this trend about ten years ago. Sustainability became sexy. The aim was to appeal to a better-earning, mostly non-political clientele. In this way, sustainability was also pushed out of the eco-corner.

Group of protestants with a poster

Fridays4Future was perhaps the most sensational reflection of a consumer turnaround in the media. The Global Climate Strike for Future in September 2020 alone saw around 1,700 rallies in over 100 countries.

But certainly not the only one. "Do good.", "Of course I buy organic!" or "Act sustainably," joined step by step in the midst of consumerist self-realization. It became "in" to ask: Where does the product come from? Is it healthy? Was child labor used? These questions are becoming more frequent, more differentiated, more pressing. Sustainability, environmental protection and climate change are no longer niche topics, but have become weighty issues in the headlines of the media and on the agendas of political discourse.

"Buying well" and "doing good" have finally become mainstream. And had consequences on the demand side, because they suddenly wanted to know a hell of a lot.

Sustainability screened

Fair-trade coffee has been around for years, the Green Button in the textile industry since 2019 - and even when buying a fancy watch or expensive bling, more and more people are thinking about sustainability.“ Guido Grohmann, Chief Executive Officer of the German Industry Association Jewelry and watch industry (BVSU)

Actually, advertising has been going through it for decades: to the audience, a fabulous product is touted, obeying the zeitgeist of lifestyle. Emotions tempt people to buy. And everything could be so beautiful if the manufacturing conditions of this product were not suddenly pilloried from somewhere. Then it's over with the just freshly grown customer relationship.

This scrutiny will increase and the critical entanglements with focus on global supply chains and strengthened national and international laws will be dragged on the platter. As touched upon in the following graphic - which highlights the global supply chains that hang on Russian oil - a comprehensive study can suddenly affect the who's who of the fashion and textile industry:

Overview of Companies working with Hengli Group

Source: Studie "Dress to kill"by the Changing Markets Foundation / 2022.

And there's one technical development we won't leave unmentioned in this context: the smartphone. The omnipresent information and dialog platform for the pocket has unleashed an unprecedented addiction and search for insight, transparency, and rummaging. At an admirable speed, it has ensured that sustainability becomes an omnipresent demanded matter of course in the actions of companies.

The smartphone, or the information "researched" through the smartphone, lays everything bare: How sustainable does a company act? What of it is advertising, what is really true? Where can I find reviews about it? What do my friends say about this company and/or its products?

In the context of consumption, the smartphone has mutated into the information weapon of today's consumer. Companies that want to communicate sustainability credibly should always keep in mind that more and more of what is said can also be "verified.

With the smartphone, which I have with me everywhere and at all times and whose operation and linking to all conceivable channels is becoming ever easier, labels that only claim sustainability instead of proving it have diminishing chances. they get into a nasty price war - like numerous organic labels. Or they sink further and further in the consumer's perception, because in the end it just says the same thing again.

The smartphone has acquired great power. So let's devote a few more words to it:

Quellennachweise und zum Weiterlesen (Stand Februar 2023)

Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz (LkSG)

Hembach, Holger (2022): Praxisleitfaden Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz (LkSG) (CB - Compliance Berater Schriftenreihe). Fachmedien Recht und Wirtschaft in Deutscher Fachverlag GmbH; 1. Auflage.

Jürgens, Max / Harings, Lothar (2022): Das Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz: Umsetzung und Auswirkungen des LkSG in der Praxis. Reguvis Fachmedien; 1. Edition.

Grabosch, Robert (Hrsg.) (2021): Das neue Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz. Nomos; 1. Edition.

Falder, Roland / Frank-Fahle, Constantin / Poleacov, Peter (2022): Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz: Ein Überblick für Praktiker

Springer Gabler; 1. Aufl. 2022 Edition (7. Mai 2022)

BMAS Das Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz

CSR in Deutschland - Das Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz

Deutscher Bundestag verabschiedet Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz

Deloitte: Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz in der Praxis

Bayerischer Rundfunk: EU-Länder einigen sich grundsätzlich auf Lieferkettengesetz

Die Initiative Lieferkettengesetz:

Absatzwirtschaft: Nachhaltigkeit in der Lieferkette: Zeit für Gerechtigkeit


Rau, Thomas / Oberhuber, Sabine (2021): Material Matters: Wie eine neu gedachte Circular Economy uns zukunftsfähig macht | Die Antwort auf die Klimakrise ist die Kreislaufwirtschaft. Econ; 1. Edition

Münger, Alfred (2021): Kreislaufwirtschaft als Strategie der Zukunft: Nachhaltige Geschäftsmodelle entwickeln und umsetzen. Haufe; 1. Auflage

Beckmann, Martin (2022): Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz: Kreislaufwirtschafts- und Abfallgesetz mit Verordnungen, Abfallverbringungsrecht. beck im dtv; 23. Edition

Europäisches Parlament: Recht auf Reparatur: Für Produkte, die langlebiger und reparierbar sind

VDI: Zirkuläre Wertschöpfung. Werkstoffliches und chemisches Recycling von Kunststoffabfällen

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

Europäische Kommission: Circular economy action plan (CEAP):

Europäische Kommission zum neuen Aktionsplan der Kreislaufwirtschaft:

Recyclingnews: EU-Kommission will nachhaltige Produkte zur Norm machen

EUR Lex (Zugang zu den Originaltexten) A new Circular Economy Action Plan:

Umweltbundesamt: Abfall- und Kreislaufwirtschaft

NABU: Kreislaufwirtschaft:


United Nations Global Compact:

United Nations Global Compact: Nachhaltigkeit in der Lieferkette:

Europäer Green Deal

BMUV Den ökologischen Wandel gestalten. Integriertes Umweltprogramm 2030.

brand eins Sonderausgabe Der neue grüne Deal Dezember 2020

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

Europäische Kommission: Der Grüne Deal

Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: The European Green Deal:

DIHK: Worum geht es beim Green Deal?


EUR Lex (Originaltexte): On making sustainable products the norm

Umweltbundesamt: Ökodesign-Richtlinie

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28. März 2022: Wie die EU Produkte ökologischer macht

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

BMZ: Die globalen Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung

IHK: Die UN Nachhaltigkeitsziele (SDGs) als Maßstab für verantwortungsvolles Unternehmertum

United Nations Global Compact:


BMUV: Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz

BMBF (Plastik): WErtschöpfungsketten gestalten

Stiftung zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister: Mindeststandard recyclinggerechtes Design:

Europäisches Parlament: Recht auf Reparatur: Für Produkte, die langlebiger und reparierbar sind

VDI Zentrum Ressourceneffizienz:

Recyclingnews: EU-Kommission will nachhaltige Produkte zur Norm machen

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

ESG & Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung

Rat der Europäischen Union: Neue Vorschriften für die Nachhaltigkeitsberichterstattung von Unternehmen: vorläufige politische Einigung zwischen Rat und Europäischem Parlament

Regularien zum Greenwashing

BMUV Den ökologischen Wandel gestalten. Integriertes Umweltprogramm 2030.

Europäische Kommision: Unfair commercial practices directive

Europäische Kommision: Kreislaufwirtschaft: Kommission schlägt neue Verbraucherrechte vor und will Greenwashing verbieten

NKS / Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung: EU legt Vorschläge für nachhaltige Produkte vor

Digitaler Produktpass (DPP)

Digtler Produkpass

Europäisches Parlament Ökodesign-Richtlinie: Steigerung der Energieeffizienz und Recyclingfähigkeit

BMUV Der BMU Design-Sprint zum Digitalen Produktpass für die Elektromobilität

Umweltbundesamt Förderung des nachhaltigen Konsums durch digitale

Produktinformationen: Bestandsaufnahme und Handlungsempfehlungen

BDI Der „Digitale Produktpass“ auf dem Prüfstand

Recyclingnews: EU-Kommission will nachhaltige Produkte zur Norm machen

DKE Digitaler Produktpass: Förderung der Digitalisierung und Kreislaufwirtschaft durch standardisierte Daten

Europäische Kommission: Circular economy action plan (CEAP):



How NFC can help your business become more sustainable. Download des Whitepapers.

Apple includes NFC in MagSafe accessories for new iPhones


Schneider, Nathan (2022): Proof of Stake: The Making of Ethereum and the Philosophy of Blockchains Seven Stories Press

Sandner, Philipp / Tumasjan, Andranik / Welpe, Isabell (2020): Die Zukunft ist dezentral: Wie die Blockchain Unternehmen und den Finanzsektor auf den Kopf stellen wird. BoD – Books on Demand; 1. Edition


bottom of page