Societal Value Change and Change inProduct Portfolio: A Case Study of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA with Special Considerationof ‘Green’ Product Innovations in Germany 1970-2010
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
BackgroundThe biggest issue of our time is the environmental damage we have caused. Publics are becomingincreasingly aware of this challenge: environmental concern has risen. This change toward greenvalues is commonly referred to as “greening of society”. Having generally been considered theenvironmental villains, companies are now also seen as the solution to the environmentalproblem. More and more companies are going green as they have realized the potential of greeninnovations to yield competitive advantages. Therefore, a greening of the business domain canalso be observed. However, only little research has been conducted on why and howenvironmental issues are integrated into the development of new products. Considering thatchemical companies are the epitome of the environmental villains, investigating the case of amanufacturer of branded chemical goods that has been the market leader in the highly contesteddetergent market for more than a century – despite or even because of – pursuing an ecoleadershipstrategy becomes more intriguing.AimThe aim of this study is to investigate the how and part of the why of integrating environmentalissues into product development by analyzing and discussing Henkel’s environmentallycompatible product innovations and their relation to the greening of society.MethodThe method of choice is content analysis. Drawing on secondary data, the research strategy isqualitative and the design is longitudinal while the approach is descriptive and idiographic.ResultsSocietal values and Henkel’s product portfolio seem to move in the same direction as both havebecome greener and greener ever since the 1970s. However, concluding that the portfolio changesas a response to the value change is premature, especially because the innovations are often theresult of decades of research and development. Also, the portfolio has not become greener at anincreasing pace because the corporate goals have changed. Rather, the greening progress has beenaccelerated by technological progress. While over the years Henkel’s innovations have offeredgreen benefits at an increasing proportion, this development is not strongly reflected inadvertisement. Until recently green values have – if at all – only been addressed rather as an aside;the most emphasis has always been on performance. While the latest positioning of innovations astruly green indicates that promotional strategy now acknowledges that preserving the environmenthas become a mainstream value, societal value change has been more strongly reflected inadvertisement in terms of values associated with convenience rather than with the environmentand sustainability.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 81 p.
greening, green product innovations, product stewardship, environmental concern, green, communication
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-71157ISRN: LIU-IEI-FIL-A--11/01048--SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-71157DiVA: diva2:445354
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Business Administration – Strategic
UppsokSocial and Behavioural Science, Law