Paragons of sustainability: transforming luxury markets through value-in-impact. Insights from an Ecuadorian artisan chocolate case study
Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship
Article publication date: 10 November 2022
Issue publication date: 2 January 2023
Associated with status, excess and wastefulness, the consumption of luxury is perceived as the antithesis to sustainable development. Entrepreneurs create business cases to mediate positive sustainability changes, which transform markets and institutional arrangements. The purpose of this paper is to propose the concept of value-in-impact as an interface concept to integrate perspectives from entrepreneurship, marketing and ecological economics. It provides interdisciplinarily applicable, generalizable concepts to describe social entrepreneurs’ personal motivations to reconfigure market structures to produce sustainability change.
The case of Ecuadorian luxury chocolate manufactory To’ak is described in the context of the three pillars of sustainability, chocolate producers and cacao suppliers. Thematic analysis of the founders’ personal narratives provides insight regarding their motivation to use ostensibly antithetical luxury marketing for rainforest preservation and to foster self-reliant communities.
To’ak pays premium prices to create incentives to community farmers to propagate the rare, DNA-certified cacao exclusive to their products, thereby marginalizing oppressive suppliers. The company’s founders are motivated to excellence in the chocolate industry, having witnessed the loss of the cultural meaning of cacao, rainforest degradation and the dissipation of associated communities. The case study findings illustrate how value-in-impact is interpreted as purposeful configuration of value-in-use and value-in-exchange on luxury markets to produce positive sustainability change.
The notion of value-in-impact describes higher order conceptualizations in business research. It encompasses a holistic understanding of the dynamics within and between societal and natural ecosystems. Its application at the marketing/entrepreneurship interface can lead to improved management and policy decisions.
The authors want to express our gratitude to Rosalind Jones, Sussie Morrish and the entire editorial team, as well as the anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive feedback. Many thanks to founders Jerry Toth, Carl Schweizer, Denisse Valencia and the To’ak team for sharing their experiences with them.
Pohlmann, A., Grijalva, D., Noboa, F. and Andrango, J. (2023), "Paragons of sustainability: transforming luxury markets through value-in-impact. Insights from an Ecuadorian artisan chocolate case study", Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 103-126. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRME-01-2022-0009
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