Sustainable Brand Index™ is Europe’s largest brand study on sustainability. The study measures the perception of stakeholders on a brand’s sustainability across industries and countries. Next to a yearly ranking and official report, Sustainable Brand Index™ provides brand-specific sustainability insights into markets, behaviours and stakeholder groups.

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What is Sustainable Brand Index™?

The study measures the perception of stakeholders on a brand’s sustainability across industries and countries. Sustainable Brand Index™ has been founded in 2011 by the Swedish SB Insight AB. Currently, the study is conducted annually in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. The ambition is to spread Sustainable Brand Index™ to as many countries, industries and brands as possible.

Next to a yearly ranking and official report, Sustainable Brand Index™ provides tailored strategy reports for brands. The strategy report includes brand-specific sustainability insights into markets, behaviours and stakeholder groups.

What is the difference between Sustainable Brand Index™ B2C & B2B?

BUSINESS-TO-CONSUMER

Sustainable Brand Index™ B2C focused on the largest business-to-consumer brands in Sweden across a variety of sectors.

The study is based on desk research and on qualitative web-surveys among consumers. The target audience in each of the surveys is the general public, 16-70 years, in each country.

In total, more than 50 000 respondents have been interviewed, and each brand has been randomly assessed by at least 1 000 people. These respondents are spread across all countries in the study (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands). Each respondent receives a completely random selection of brands to avoid systematic errors in the study.

BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS

Sustainable Brand Index™ B2B focused on the largest business-to-business brands across a variety of sectors. The study is based on desk research and on in-depth interviews with decision-makers. The respondents in this study are decision-makers that carry the responsibility for purchasing and procurement of goods and services within the selected industries. Decision-makers are selected from companies with an annual turnover of 400M SEK or more and from a variety of departments and positions. Currently, more than 1 000 decisions-makers are interviewed evaluating over 100 of the biggest B2B brands in Sweden.

The primary focus on large companies is an active choice based on the fact that these companies and decision-makers are responsible for large investments with a great effect on sustainability in the society. Of course, small- and medium-sized companies are also vital for a sustainable development. However, given the challenges and the time it takes to reach these types of decision-makers, Sustainable Brand Index™ B2B has chosen to focus on a segment of large companies in this study.

What is the purpose of Sustainable Brand Index™?

The purpose of Sustainable Brand Index™ is to provide knowledge and understanding of how sustainability affects branding, communication and business development. By analysing important trends, mapping stakeholder’s attitudes and behaviours and evaluating brand drivers, the study provides brand-specific data and strategic tools. In doing so, Sustainable Brand Index™ encourages brands to improve their work and dares them to communicate about sustainability.

In a data-driven way, Sustainable Brand Index™ is able to identify important gaps between how brands think they are perceived and the reality. The more brands communicate about their sustainability efforts, the higher the interest, knowledge and demands of stakeholders will be on these issues. It creates a positive cycle for transparency and sustainability. 

How are the brands selected?

The selection of brands in the study is independent and is based mainly on three parameters: turnover, market share & general brand awareness. The purpose of these criteria is to create a selection that mirrors the brands that consumers meet in their everyday life. 

How is data collected?

Sustainable Brand Index™ is an independent study based on desk research and qualitative web-surveys or in-depth interviews. Each brand is assessed by at least 1 000 respondents. During data collection, we consider the appropriate length of surveys (max around 9 minutes) or interviews and we set quotas for gender, age and geography. In accordance with our policy, we do not use panels that are self-recruited

In total, more than 50 000 respondents have been interviewed, and each brand has been randomly assessed by at least 1 000 people. These respondents are spread across all countries in the study (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands). Each respondent receives a completely random selection of brands to avoid systematic errors in the study.

Do you use the same respondents every year?

No, we don’t use the same respondents every year. It is important not to have the same respondents to avoid distortion of the results. For example, if we use the same respondents every year, they become "experts" on the questions we ask. We want answers from ordinary consumers, not just people who are knowledgeable of sustainability.

How Is Sustainability defined in Sustainable Brand Index™?

Brands are being evaluated and ranked on a combination of environmental and social responsibility, based on the definition of sustainability according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.The score is assembled through a top box-method, consisting of awareness levels and positive attitudes of stakeholders. The total score for each area of sustainability is 100%. Thus, a brand can receive 100% for environmental responsibility, and 100% for social responsibility, adding up to a maximum score of 200%.

Over 1.000 brands are evaluated by 50.000 stakeholders across 5 countries.

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What is Sustainable Brand Index™ really measuring?

First, it is important to note that the Sustainable Brand Index™ measures the perception of a brand’s sustainability. Thus, we do not measure the actual level of sustainability performance across supply chains in this study. The perception of each actor’s sustainability efforts is largely based on stakeholders’ gut feeling, but in some cases also on their knowledge. In summary, we measure how much or how little important stakeholders know about each actor’s sustainability responsibility as well as how they value each actor’s sustainability responsibility.

Isn’t there a risk that the study encourages greenwashing?

We don’t think so. Instead, we can see that the study has the opposite effect. In fact, using branding and communication as a driver for sustainability is one of the purposes of the study. The more companies communicate about their sustainability work, the higher the interest for these issues becomes amongst the consumers. When interest increases, the consumers’ knowledge about company operations in this field also increases. When consumers know more, they have higher demands. Therefore, it becomes increasingly risky from the companies point of view, to be perceived as sustainable but to not deliver. We see it as a positive cycle.

Don’t you just measure how well companies communicate?

Yes and no. A well-considered and effective communication is absolutely a part of being successful in the Sustainable Brand Index™. However, another important part is basic (sustainable) branding. Last but not least, we have learnt that a solid work on sustainability is a necessary part to even be considered as sustainable by the consumers.

Why can the scores in the study vary much between different years?

First and foremost, it is important to emphasise that it is the result in the overall ranking that can differ much between years. Thus, it is not the underlying driving forces for each brand that vary that much over time. Instead, it is the overall attitude towards environmental responsibility and social responsibility that can differ much between years.

There are several reasons for this divergence. First, sustainability is an area in constant development, which makes the interest and knowledge of the consumers volatile and fast moving. The perception about sustainability is therefore not inflexible in the same way that other aspects related to branding and image. Second, we measure the consumer view that is right here, right now, with no filters. We do not weigh the result based on that fact that certain sustainability issues have become more or less important over time, neither on market shares, or specific events during the past year. This means that we get the naked truth regarding how people in each country perceive the brand’s sustainability efforts right now. Thus, it is possible that results change more for some actors than others over time.

 

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