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Seeking sustainable futures in marketing and consumer research.

Davies, Iain; Oates, Caroline J.; Tynan, Caroline; Carrigan, Marylyn; Casey, Katherine; Heath, Teresa; Henninger, Claudia E.; Lichrou, Maria; McDonagh, Pierre; McDonald, Seonaidh; McKechnie, Sally; McLeay, Fraser; O'Malley, Lisa; Wells, Victoria


Iain Davies

Caroline J. Oates

Caroline Tynan

Marylyn Carrigan

Katherine Casey

Teresa Heath

Claudia E. Henninger

Maria Lichrou

Pierre McDonagh

Seonaidh McDonald

Sally McKechnie

Fraser McLeay

Lisa O'Malley

Victoria Wells


Purpose: Seeking ways towards a sustainable future is the most dominant socio-political challenge of our time. Marketing should have a crucial role to play in leading research and impact in sustainability, yet it is limited by relying on cognitive behavioural theories rooted in the 1970s, which have proved to have little bearing on actual behaviour. This paper aims to interrogate why marketing is failing to address the challenge of sustainability and identify alternative approaches. Design/methodology/approach: The constraint in theoretical development contextualises the problem, followed by a focus on four key themes to promote theory development: developing sustainable people; models of alternative consumption; building towards sustainable marketplaces; and theoretical domains for the future. These themes were developed and refined during the 2018 Academy of Marketing workshop on seeking sustainable futures. MacInnis’s (2011) framework for conceptual contributions in marketing provides the narrative thread and structure. Findings: The current state of play is explicated, combining the four themes and MacInnis’s framework to identify the failures and gaps in extant approaches to the field. Research limitations/implications: This paper sets a new research agenda for the marketing discipline in quest for sustainable futures in marketing and consumer research. Practical implications: Approaches are proposed which will allow the transformation of the dominant socio-economic systems towards a model capable of promoting a sustainable future. Originality/value: The paper provides thought leadership in marketing and sustainability as befits the special issue, by moving beyond the description of the problem to making a conceptual contribution and setting a research agenda for the future.


DAVIES, I., OATES, C.J., TYNAN, C., CARRIGAN, M., CASEY, K., HEATH, T., HENNINGER, C.E., LICHROU, M., MCDONAGH, P., MCDONALD, S., MCKECHNIE, S., MCLEAY, F., O'MALLEY, L. and WELLS, V. 2020. Seeking sustainable futures in marketing and consumer research. European journal of marketing [online], 54(11), pages 2911-2939. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 7, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 23, 2020
Publication Date Nov 30, 2020
Deposit Date Apr 13, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 23, 2020
Journal European Journal of Marketing
Print ISSN 0309-0566
Electronic ISSN 1758-7123
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 11
Pages 2911-2939
Keywords Marketing theory; Consumer research; Sustainability
Public URL


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