The upstream consequences from a marketing war – A case study of the marketing war between Oatly

Businesses are held responsible for society´s environmental issues. The pressure to act sustainably increases as more people commit to society´s sustainability debate. An industry that is especially criticized is the food and agricultural industry. As a result from the increasing pressure, food industry actors have started to address their competitors´ flaws that differ from their own. Through marketing campaigns, businesses openly criticize competitors activities in media by comparing them with their own. The comparisons are often made on attributes other than price, such as climate impact. Every now and then the businesses get a response from their competitors, which causes a marketing war. Current academic literature highlight both positive and negative consequences for the downstream actors. This thesis aims to deepen the understanding of a marketing war as a phenomenon by investigating a gap in academic literature, namely consequences from a marketing war for upstream actors. The results indicate that the negative consequences outweigh the positive for upstream actors in a marketing war. Farmers view the marketing war between Oatly and Arla Foods to have created an opportunity to educate consumers about circular impact on the environment. However, farmers also perceive it as an unethical act to initiate and participate in a marketing war since the discussed issue does not reflect the truth because of exaggerated arguments. The upstream consequences from the marketing war are categorized in the following themes: debate, human emotion, economics, relation and reputation. ​

About us

Felicia Norén and Sofia Ronström Agricultural Economics and Management


Committed and goal-oriented Master´s Graduate in Business Administration with a focus on the Green Sector and Agriculture. Hungry for knowledge, I am driven by challenges and finding solutions which meet or exceed expectations. With experience in areas such as strategy, business development, accounting and economic analysis, I look forward to future work where I can evolve together with my employer.



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