Inderscience Publishers

Sustainability: UK retailers and social media

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This paper provides an exploratory review of the extent to which the UK’s retail industry is employing social media, specifically Facebook, to communicate their sustainability aspirations, commitments and achievements. The paper begins with an outline of the development and characteristics of social media and this is followed by a short discussion of the concept and contested meanings of sustainability. The paper draws its empirical material from the Facebook pages of the UK’s top ten retail companies. The findings reveal that the individual retail businesses operated by the top ten retail companies all have Facebook pages but that these pages are dominated by marketing and sales promotion material with commentary on sustainability or attempts to develop engagement with members on sustainability being very limited. More critically the authors argue that if the wider concerns of climate change, the availability and security of resources and waste disposal become increasingly perceived to be pressing issues then the UK’s leading retailers may need to look to harness the powerful potential of social media in an attempt to encourage more sustainable shopping behaviour.

Keywords: social media, sustainability, retailers, UK

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