Customer engagement with Sustainability Labelling and Indices: A Sustainable Marketing Perspective

   The Graduate School

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Project reference number: GCUL-2023-003

Corporate culture and governance evidences the level of involvement a company has with sustainability (McCormick & Ram, 2022). More explicit signalling is the use of third-party organisations who promote sustainability via labelling schemes or indices that seek to track and measure individual businesses environmental and social impact. One example is the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s (SAC) Higg Index wherein a member of this coalition (e.g., a garment manufacturer or fashion brand retailer) can draw on a set of tools that offers a common approach for measuring and evaluating such things as water use, carbon emissions, and labour conditions. In doing so, fashion brands can monitor and seek to improve sustainability performance. Further, use such labelling schemes in their marketing efforts to signal to consumers their commitment to sustainability. Consequently, the concept of sustainability is recognised as a viable marketing approach (Brydges, Henninger & Hanlon, 2022). In all, the use of third-party sustainable labelling or indices has the potential to create positive consumer opinion and inform and influence fashion brand purchase decisions. However, within academic literature there is no evidence this is the case.  

Viewed as a strategic imperative for establishing competitive advantage, over the last decade the concept of customer engagement has been increasingly explored to understand the nature of the customer/brand relationship. Further, whilst the consumer is presented with various communications including labels and indices to support sustainable fashion purchase decisions, customer engagement has not been explored in the context of sustainability marketing. This research proposal seeks to address this by asking the following research questions:

  1. How do fashion brands achieve customer engagement via sustainability marketing through the use of sustainability labelling and indices and;
  2. How can customer engagement with fashion sustainability labelling and indices be conceptualised and measured? 
  3. The proposed research will draw upon and contribute to knowledge in the subjects of sustainability marketing and customer engagement

Candidates are requested to submit a more detailed proposal (of a maximum of 2000 words) on the project area as part of the application.

How to apply

This project is available as a 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time PhD study programme with expected start date of 1 October 2024.

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisors for the project before applying. 

Please note that emails to the supervisory team or enquires submitted via this project advert do not constitute formal applications; applicants should apply via our Application Process page, choosing GCU London and October 2024 start.

Please send any other enquires regarding your application to:


Applicants are expected to find external funding sources to cover the tuition fees and living expenses. Alumni and International students new to GCU who are self-funding are eligible for fee discounts.

Find out more on our Research Scholarships and Studentships web page.   

Business & Management (5) Communication & Media Studies (7) Creative Arts & Design (9)

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