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ABOUT THE STUDY

- WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX?

Sustainable Brand Index TM is the Nordics ́ largest independent brand study focused on sustainability. Based on more than a 1000 brands and over 40,000 consumer interviews in the Nordics and The Netherlands, the study looks at how sustainable brands are perceived to be, why they are perceived this way and what to do about it. The study also includes a comprehensive trend analysis, consumer behaviour analysis and strategic recommendations. Sustainable Brand IndexTM consists of the following parts:

  • Trends & Future Analysis

Review of what has happened in the rest of the world and on the market over the last year, and, above all, the emerging trends we see in each industry.

  • The Sustainable Consumer

A mapping of who the sustainable consumer is, what drives and hinders sustainable behaviours, and emerging consumption patterns.

  • Brand Analysis Focusing on Sustainability

Evaluation and analysis of how sustainable each brand is perceived, why it is perceived so and how it should be handled in the best possible way.

- HOW LONG HAVE SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX EXISTED?

The study started in 2011 and is conducted annually in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. Our ambition is to spread the study to as many countries as possible to create a relevant overall image of the market for sustainability.

- WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX?

The purpose of Sustainable Brand Index TM is to visualise the value of sustainable branding and spread and increase knowledge about this topic. By motivating, inspiring and providing a concrete tool, we encourage companies to improve their work and dare to communicate. We believe that the more companies talk about sustainability and what they do, the higher the interest among consumers. Increased interest, in turn, leads to increased knowledge, which in the long run also leads to higher demands on brands.


THE DATA COLLECTION

- HOW DO YOU COLLECT THE DATA IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX?

Sustainable Brand Index TM is an independent three-part study based on desk research and two qualitative web-surveys. Each brand is assessed by at least 1000 respondents.

  • The average length of the surveys is approximately 9 minutes (this applies to the first quantitative survey, the second one is shorter)
  • In accordance with our policy, we do not use panels that are self-recruited
  • In the surveys, we set quotas for gender, age and geography
  • In a final step, the data is weighted for further fine-tuning

- HOW MANY RESPONDENTS HAVE BEEN INTERVIEWED IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX 2018?

In total, more than 40,000 respondents have been interviewed, and each brand has been randomly assessed by at least 1000 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.

The number of respondents in Sustainable Brand Index 2018

  • Sweden 16 600
  • Norway 6 200
  • Denmark 7 000
  • Finland 9 600
  • The Netherlands 5 000
  • Total 44 400

- HOW IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX 2018 DEFINED?

The target audience in each of the surveys is the general public, 16-70 years, in each country.

- HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RESPONDENTS?

The respondents come from so-called consumer panels belonging to a subcontractor. The panels thus consist of regular citizens in each country that have been recruited to answer questions at even and uneven intervals. Respondents are recruited through requests made on websites on the internet (either on news sites or in connection with an online purchase). We do not work with self-recruited panels, i.e. panels made up of people who themselves have signed up to answer questions. The respondents who then answer the questions in Sustainable Brand Index TM are selected from the mentioned panels. To get a so-called nationally representative selection, we use so-called quotas. This means that, even before we ask questions, we decide that there must be a certain distribution of respondents, based on gender, age and geography (to reflect the population of each country).

- DO YOU USE THE SAME RESPONDENTS EVERY YEAR?

No, it is not 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.

- WHEN WERE THE INTERVIEWS IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX 2018 CONDUCTED?

The different steps in the study (quantitative and qualitative studies) were conducted during November 2017 - January 2018 and February to March 2018 respectively.

- HOW IS SUSTAINABILITY DEFINED IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX?

The basis for the ranking in Sustainable Brand Index TM is the UN Global Compact's 10 Principles of Environmental Responsibility and Social Responsibility. However, the ranking is only the tip of the iceberg in the study. We also look at a so-called external definition of sustainability that focuses on consumer perceptions of what sustainability is - their expectations and demands on companies. Furthermore, the study also digs deep within specific focus areas relevant to each industry. In 2017, we also began to examine the attitudes towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.


THE RANKING

- HOW ARE THE BRANDS IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX SELECTED?

The selection of brands in the study is independent of SB Insight and is based mainly on three parameters:

  • Activity on the Market of the Country
  • 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. The selection is primarily focused on corporate brands but are also complemented with product brands based on market share and general brand awareness that are relevant in order to create a justified image of each industry respectively.

- HOW MANY BRANDS ARE CHOSEN IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX?

We try to add new brands every year as we expand the study. This is the current number of brands in each country, chosen based on the parameters above:

  • Sweden 326 brands
  • Norway 225 brands
  • Denmark 202 brands
  • Finland 164 brands
  • The Netherlands 149 brands

Total 1066 brands

- CAN A COMPANY PAY TO BE INCLUDED IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX?

A frequently asked question is whether brands can pay to be included in the study. That is not the case. We choose brands independently and based on the criteria mentioned above. There is a possibility for brands within the selection frame to buy a tailored strategy report. However, it is not possible to pay to be included in the study.

- WHAT DOES THE RANKING IN SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX SHOW?

The ranking shows how sustainable the different brands are perceived to be, according to the relevant country’s consumers. The ranking consists of two main parts; one that is called environmental responsibility, and one that is called social responsibility. The final score for each brand is an aggregate of the brand’s perception within these two areas. The score is assembled through a top box-method. This means that we only look at the share of positive consumers. Thus, the share that is positive towards a brand’s environmental responsibility + the share that is positive towards a brand’s social responsibility = the ranking score. This is also why the maximum score in the ranking is 200%. The highest score that a brand could be rewarded with is 100% for environmental responsibility and 100% for social responsibility.'

- WHAT ARE YOU REALLY MEASURING?

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

- 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 IndexTM. 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.

- ISN’T THERE A RISK THAT THE STUDY ENCOURAGES GREENWASHING?

We don’t think so. Instead, we can see that the study have 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 sustainability and their 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 IndexTM. 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 DOES THE SCORES IN THE STUDY VARY MUCH BETWEEN DIFFERENT YEARS?

First and foremost, it is important to emphasize 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.


MISCELLANEOUS

- WHO MAKES THE SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX?

Sustainable Brand IndexTM is owned and run by the company SB Insight AB. SB Insight is a private company owned by the employees. We are a small company based in Stockholm, with operations in the Nordics, The Netherlands and the Baltics.

- HOW IS THE SUSTAINABLE BRAND INDEX FINANCED?

SB Insight AB, the company behind the study, finances Sustainable Brand Index to 100%.