Sustainability, brand authenticity and Instagram messaging


The role of Instagram brand messaging as a force for good is examined when a brand’s mission is creating societal change and where being authentic can also lead to controversy and negative responses. A depth study of an exemplary brand is used to explore brand authenticity in the context of sustainability, brand activism messaging and consumer responses to brand posts on Instagram. We offer a unique perspective by focusing on authentic brand sustainability activism. 104 brand messages and 5541 consumer responses to Patagonia, an activist brand renowned for supporting environmental and social issues, are analysed. An extended ‘activist sustainability view’ of brand authenticity is proposed including the conceptualisation of authentic brand sustainability activism. Eight types of consumer response to brand sustainability posts that encompass both positive and negative sentiment are identified. Theoretical and managerial implications, and avenues for future research are offered.

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