How German consumers identify sustainable food products at the point of sale

  • Matthieu Classen
  • Sarah Heggemann

Student thesis: Master, one year


The rise of sustainable food products in Germany highlights the desire of German consumers for food which was produced with respect to the three themes of sustainability, the environment, animal welfare and social aspects. Despite this development, previous research showed, that labels and claims used at the POS to promote sustainable food products, cause difficulties for consumers such as distrust or consumer confusion when searching and evaluating these products.

The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether the German supermarket and discounter customers are able to understand sustainable information at the POS and consequently identify sustainable food products. In order to examine this, a qualitative approach was chosen where nine semi-structured interviews with German consumers were conducted. The interviews contained an experimental part, where the consumers’ search and evaluation processes were tested.

The results of this thesis show that difficulties in identifying sustainable food products exist in terms of trustworthiness of the information provided on the products especially in case of brand names and unknown sustainability labels. Furthermore, spin-off effects between sustainable products and less sustainable, conventional products were observed, where a positive evaluation of a sustainable product, negatively affected the evaluation of another product. Next to these difficulties, motivational conflicts were found to be a major obstacle for consumers when evaluating sustainable products.

These findings implicate that manufactures and retailers need to carefully choose which and how they present sustainable information at the POS, as this is decisive for the successful search and evaluation process of their customers.

Date of Award2020-Jul-06
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKarin Alm (Supervisor) & Jens Hultman (Examiner)

Educational program

  • MSc in Business Administration specialising in International Business and Marketing

Courses and Subjects

  • International business and marketing

University credits

  • 15 HE credits

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Business Administration (50202)


  • sustainability
  • consumer behavior
  • point of sale
  • sustainable information
  • search process
  • evaluation process
  • sustainable food
  • retailers

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