- Toxic boat paint has a detrimental effect on marine ecosystems, and yet it is a well accepted practice.
- Plastic bags for grocery shopping are distributed freely to consumers, despite a gigantic garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean and other destructive consequences.
- Megatons of food are thrown away and destroyed despite their inherent nutritional value (Gollnhofer, Hellwig, & Morhart 2016).
As these examples illustrate, some objects or practices are excluded from the marketplace, whereas others are part of it despite their detrimental impact. According to prior research structural-ideological constraints, normative barriers or the attitude-behavior gap (i.e. individuals do not act according to their attitudes) lie at the heart of this paradox (Holt, 2012; Gollnhofer, 2017).
Understanding the mechanisms as to how certain practices can be excluded or included in the marketplace offers tremendous potential on our way to a more sustainable society.
We as marketers/marketing scholars occupy a special nodal point for solving challenging questions in our contemporary world (such as questions related to sustainability).
Similar to making a product more or less desirable, we can normalise or “denormalise” certain practices. By drawing on the example of food waste, the author outlines how through certain practices positive meanings can be attached to sustainable practices that are desirable, however excluded from the marketplace. In the case studied, this includes retracing the biography of the object, building communities, rituals and sacrifices. Those practices have the potential to shape our normative and cultural understanding of food items, this means our understanding on how long certain food items are still consumable (for instance, a pepper that is naturally decaying).
Those might not be the only strategies, there might be far more out there that will help to include sustainable practices into consumer society and the routines of consumers.
Read the original research article: Gollnhofer, J. (2017). Normalising alternative practices: the recovery, distribution and consumption of food waste. Journal of Marketing Management. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2017.1301982
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