The Sustainable Brand Index (SBI) is a European study about sustainability that is carried out annually and measures the perception of stakeholders on a brand’s sustainability across industries and countries. With the help of more than 60,000 consumers across eight countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the study measures and analyzes over 1,400 brands–both B2C and B2B–across 34 industries on sustainability annually.

Currently celebrating its tenth anniversary, its founder and managing director Erik Elvingsson Hedén explained how the company operates.

How was the Sustainability Brand Index (SBI) born?
The Sustainable Brand Index was founded by SB Insight AB in 2011 and has grown into Europe’s largest brand study on sustainability. SB Insight is a Swedish insight agency on a mission to create sustainable brands. We provide knowledge and understanding of how sustainability affects branding, communications and business development.

SBI, which is an independent research and separate unit from SB Insight’s other products and service, was born from the realization that companies were very worried and interested in how their brands were perceived regarding environmental and social issues. It was a lot of risk management back then, but today it is more focused on the opportunities of building a sustainable brand. In fact we provide knowledge and understanding about how sustainability affects branding, communication and business development.

In which fields does it operate? And what percentage does the fashion and textile industry count for it?
We operate across 34 industries in eight different countries. The fashion and textile industry is a relevant industry in most of our countries, and we survey somewhere around 150 brands within this sector. We choose all brands in the study ourselves, so you cannot ask to join or be removed. We base the selection on market share and brand awareness in each country.

Sustainable Brand Index blog
Photo: Screenshot Sustainable Brand Index
Sustainable Brand Index blog
How does SBI carry its analysis ahead?
SBI is an independent study, based on desk research and two main quantitative Web surveys. Each brand is assessed by at least 1,000 respondents based on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and relevant subcategories.

In a data-driven way, SBI is able to identify important gaps between how brands think they are perceived and the reality. By analyzing important trends, mapping stakeholders’ attitudes and behaviors and evaluating brand drivers, the study provides brand-specific data and strategic tools. In doing so, SBI encourages brands to improve their work and dares them to communicate about sustainability. The more brands talk about sustainability, the more consumers will know, care and demand. It creates a positive cycle for transparency and sustainability. Together we are on a mission to create sustainable brands.

Why does it only operate in some countries?
We fund the study ourselves so adding a new country is always a financial decision. But we are looking to expand geographically in the future, as we have done over the years, from being only in Sweden in 2011 to adding more countries over the course of time. We do have our target on several other parts of Europe, and the world.

For a second year in a row, the Sustainable Brand Index has rated Fjällräven Sweden’s most sustainable brand in the “Clothes & Fashion – Brand” industry. Fjällräven won the same designation in 2020.
Photo: Sustainable Brand Index/Fjäll Räven
For a second year in a row, the Sustainable Brand Index has rated Fjällräven Sweden’s most sustainable brand in the “Clothes & Fashion – Brand” industry. Fjällräven won the same designation in 2020.
Is SBI also working as a consultant that can help a company achieve better results every year? If so, how?
If you are one of the brands on the list, you can contact us to get tailored in-depth insights into how you are perceived within sustainability, why you are perceived in this way and what to do about it.

Following the arrival of the pandemic did you notice any specific new evolution or change in the industry? If so, what was it?
There is an increased awareness among consumers around the effect that we, and our consumption, have on the planet. Climate change, biodiversity and pollution are all more important than before, this is also clearly connected to challenges that people see is a part of the fashion and textile industry.