Contributing to Competitiveness in Retailing by Engaging in Sustainability: The Case of Migros

  • Thomas Rudolph
  • Kristina Kleinlercher
  • Marc Linzmajer
  • Cornelia Diethelm


In 2015, the Swiss company Migros was awarded the most sustainable retailer worldwide. Recent changes in the Swiss retail landscape render sustainable actions more complex than ever before. German discounters entered the market, cross-border shopping gains popularity, and the Internet revolutionizes traditional retail formats. Sustainably produced goods are no longer an add-on in retailing; rather they are a principal requirement. The question how to engage in sustainability without jeopardizing a company’s competitiveness rises. By examining Migros’ sustainability initiatives, this study identifies the ingredients of a competitive sustainability strategy. It finds that strong engagement from employees and customers, information transparency, collaborations with stakeholders, business model innovations, initiatives along the entire value chain, and the powers of the Internet contribute to the success of sustainability.


Sustainability Retailing Competitiveness Success factors Value chain 



The completion of this case study would not have been possible without the support of others. First, we want to thank the entire Migros team for their guidance and support. We were privileged to work with them. Second, we express our gratitude to the students of the 2016 fall semester class Supply Chain Management at the University of St. Gallen. Their feedback on the case study was very helpful to us.

Further Reading

  1. Chkanikova, Olga, and Matthias Lehner. 2015. Private Eco-Brands and Green Market Development: Towards New Forms of Sustainability Governance in the Food Retailing. Journal of Cleaner Production 107 (November): 74–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Claro, Danny P., Silvio A.L. Neto, and Priscila B.O. Claro. 2013. Sustainability Drivers in Food Retail. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 20 (May): 365–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dao, Viet, Ian Langella, and Jerry Carbo. 2011. From Green to Sustainability: Information Technology and an Integrated Sustainability Framework. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 20 (1): 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ougaard, Morten. 2014. Sustainability and Counteracting Factors to Profit Rate Decline. The European Journal of Social Science Research 27 (3): 220–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Schaltegger, Stefan, and Jacob Hörisch. 2015. In Search of the Dominant Rationale in Sustainability Management: Legitimacy- or Profit-Seeking? Journal of Business Ethics 145 (2): 259–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Wiese, Anna, Julian Kellner, Britta Lietke, Waldemar Toporowski, and Stephan Zielke. 2012. Sustainability in Retailing–A Summative Content Analysis. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 40 (4): 318–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar


  1. Etsy, Daniel C., and Andrew S. Winston. 2009. Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  2. FAO. 2014. Food Wastage Footprint: Full-Cost Accounting. Accessed 10 Oct 2015.
  3. Feige, Stephan, Peter Fischer, Dominique von Matt, and Sven Reinecke. 2013. Swissness Worldwide 2013–Image und internationaler Mehrwert der Marke Schweiz. St.Gallen: Thexis.Google Scholar
  4. IRM. 2014. Unveröffentlichte Managementbefragung zu Nachhaltiger Unternehmensführung. St.Gallen: Forschungszentrum für Handelsmanagement Universität St.Gallen.Google Scholar
  5. Kiron, David, Nina Kruschwitz, Martin Reeves, and Eugene Goh. 2013. The Benefits of Sustainability-Driven Innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review 54 (2): 68–74.Google Scholar
  6. Kohli, Andreas. 2015. Lidls Lehrjahre. Schweizer Rundfunk und Fernsehen, 22 June. Accessed 11 Sep 2015.
  7. Meise, Jan N., Thomas Rudolph, Peter Kenning, and Diane Phillips. 2014. Feed Them Facts: Value Perceptions and Consumer Use of Sustainability-Related Product Information. Journal or Retailing and Consumer Services 21 (4): 510–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Migros. 2015. Generation M: Der aktuelle Stand unserer Versprechen. Accessed 30 June 2016.
  9. Nidumolu, Ram, Coimbatore K. Prahald, and Madhavan R. Rangaswami. 2009. Why Sustainability Is Now The Key Driver of Innovation. Harvard Business Review 87 (9): 57–64.Google Scholar
  10. Oekom. 2015. Oekom Corporate Responsibility Review 2015. Accessed 8 Sep 2015.
  11. Rampl, Linn V., Tim Eberhardt, Reinhard Schütte, and Peter Kenning. 2012. Consumer Trust in Food Retailers: Conceptual Framework and Empirical Evidence. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 40 (4): 254–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rudolph, Thomas, Melanie Bassett, and Max Weber. 2015a. Konsumententrends im SchweizerLebensmitteldetailhandel. St.Gallen: Forschungszentrum für Handelsmanagement niversität St.Gallen.Google Scholar
  13. Rudolph, Thomas, Liane Nagengast, and Frauke Nitsch. 2015b. Einkaufstourismus Schweiz 2015. St.Gallen: Forschungszentrum für Handelsmanagement Universität St.Gallen.Google Scholar
  14. Sheth, Jagdish N., Nirmal K. Sethia, and Shanti Srinivas. 2010. Mindful Consumption: A Customer Centric Approach to Sustainability. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 39 (1): 21–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Universum Global. 2016. Switzerland’s Most Attractive Employers 2016. Accessed 21 June 2016.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Rudolph
    • 1
  • Kristina Kleinlercher
    • 1
  • Marc Linzmajer
    • 1
  • Cornelia Diethelm
    • 2
  1. 1.University of St. GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland
  2. 2.Migros-Genossenschafts-BundZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations