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I haven’t posted anymore survey results from my research in the past month. Due to preparations for my new job as consultant and project manager in the automotive industry I have been rather busy. But understanding green consumer behavior better and deriving potential sustainability marketing strategies from those insights is still an important topic for me. Even more so, as the readership of this blog has steadily increased to almost 1,000 people in the month of March. Because of the existing demand and interest I will try to publish more of the promised posts in the upcoming months:

Part 1: Descriptive results of the study including consumer attitudes, the influence of social norms and perceived obstacles in the buying process in regard to green clothing. (DONE: see Section 1, Section 2, Section 3 and an addition here)

COMING UP SOON:

Part 2: Does the outdoor sports participation frequency affect our level of connectedness to nature? And in return, does a strong environmental identity directly or indirectly influence consumer purchase intentions?

Part 3: Which psychological variables influence consumers’ buying intentions for green outerwear the strongest?

Moreover, the survey results provide promising info for product developers and marketers that want to invest into fair and environmentally friendly products including one of the most important topics: labeling. The results of conjoint analysis, which shed light on the trade-off decisions sustainable consumers have to make in the context of green clothing, further revealed more detailed, interesting results. Product attributes of the analysis included price, design, quality, alternative material and eco labeling.

I will try to create more understandable and interesting free content for practitioners as well as interested scientists stumbling upon this blog…
Hope to see you again soon! Follow me on Twitter (on the left) to get notified about the next update.


SECTION 4 – PRICE AND AVAILABILITY OF GOODS IN MORE DETAIL

Additional research results also showed that consumer access is key. Price and availability are the two main factors as we have witnessed in the previous post.

Bivariate correlations with perceived negative effects of higher prices showed that:

  • older people (+.210**)
  • with more income (+.167**)
  • and accentuated levels of ethical obligation (+.220**),
  • often in the Hiking/Climbing and the Skiing segments

are not as much negatively affected in their buying intention when expecting price premiums. Therefore, their more positive levels of perceived behavioral control in terms of price have a supportive effect on their purchase behavior of green clothing products.
This consumer type resembles a target group description that has often been called LOHAS (Life of Health and Sustainability). LOHAS are defined by Nielsen as consumers who are lifestyle-oriented, active stewards of the environment that incorporates those environmental and social values into their purchase decisions (cp. Nielsen 2009 about Canadian shoppers). But while the connection between environmental attitude, green identity and ethical obligation and eco-friendly purchasing decisions is strong, the decision still largely depends on the funds the individual consumer has at her disposal. Here, the older, the more educated means more income – more income means private budget isn’t as tight (that’s also why there is so many skiers – the correlation between skiing and age is positive, while it’s exactly the other way round for all boardsports. I must admit though – the survey has primarily been targeted at the boardsports scene and left younger freeskiers aside a little bit, which is truly a shame…). After all, this is one of the major discrepancies when trying to market green outerwear to the snowboard & freeski kids – for them it’s all about style and price, while green comes last for most of them, understandably. This is why companies from the action sports industry need to find ways to offer sustainable products without hefty price premiums. This blog and future post are trying to give some insights on potential solutions!

Bivariate correlations with expected levels of availability of eco-friendly outerwear in the stores showed that respondents with:

  • accentuated levels of environmental identity (-.139*)
  • positive green consumption attitudes (-.267**)
  • a stronger feeling of ethical obligation to buy environmentally friendly (-.142*)
  • and under the influence of significant others from the close social environment (-.133*)

were likely to show more positive purchase intentions, despite that fact that they expected availability to be lower. An explanation: the negative correlation means that the more positive the respondent’s attitude towards buying eco-friendly, the more he saw the lack of green products in the stores as a big obstacle. This lack of presence in the shop on the other hand did not influence the buying intention negatively. This means their behavioral intention to purchase green clothing was higher, although they knew about potential obstacles in the buying process (no nearby shops with a sustainable product range from multiple brands, etc.). This is good news! The finding shows that this (more extreme type of) green consumer is willing to overcome these obstacles actively. But as this results in higher search costs (time and money invested to find or identify green products), it limits the size of the potential target group. Thus, improving the distribution strategy is important. It’s key to develop synergies between industry players on all levels of the supply chain to create a stronger and larger distribution network.

These two findings add more depth to the results from the previous blog and are also an important outcome for the upcoming marketing research analysis in the following blog posts about this topic. Stay tuned for more updates this coming week!


** correlation is significant at the .01 sign. level (2-tailed).
*
correlation is significant at the .05 sign. level (2-tailed).



SECTION 2: THE EFFECTS OF COMPLYING TO SUBJECTIVE NORMS
In my research I used a modified version of the Theory of Planned Behavior to understand green consumer behavior in the outdoor sports industry better. The basic idea behind this psychological model is the following. Alongside previous authors, I argue that five different key factors influence an individual’s purchasing intention when making sustainable consumer decisions:

  1. Their positive or negative attitudes towards the effects of the specific buying decision, which consist of a function of (product-related) beliefs and expectations about the likelihood of their occurence (discussed in the previous blog);
  2. The positive or negative influence that significant others in the individuals social surroundings exert on the buying decision (the so-called “Subjective Norms” factor);
  3. The perceived lack of control about the behavior or obstacles that hinder the buying process (e.g. a lack of availability of sustainable clothing in local stores);
  4. A feeling of ethical obligation;
  5. The effects of green consumer self-identity or in this context, the influence a certain context-related measure of self-identity, called environmental identity has.

While “environmental identity” (measuring someone’s relatedness to nature) was the main variable I discussed in my thesis, subjective norms had also been part of the model but received less attention. Therefore, this blog entry is giving some further inside about the results regarding the influence of the social world everybody is embed in. Read the rest of this entry »


SECTION 1: ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDES
Let’s start with one of the most significant influences on behavioral intention in the context of sustainable consumerism: the consumer’s attitude towards the behavior. Ajzen and Fishbein (1980)[1] define attitudes towards a behavior as a “person’s judgment that performing the behavior is good or bad, that he is in favor of or against performing the behavior” (p. 6). According to their theory “attitudes are a function of beliefs” (p. 7). In a sustainable consumer behavior context, a high degree of environmental attitudes would govern an individual’s evaluation of their purchasing behavior and thus his or her behavioral intentions.

Descriptive results: Attitudes towards purchasing environmentally friendly outerwear
So-called “behavioral beliefs” had to be rated by the participants from -3 to +3. Positive numbers stand for a positive attitudinal beliefs towards performing the behavior, vice versa. The following nine beliefs have been chosen to account for the array of beliefs that is likely to have an effect on green consumer behavior in this context:

I believe…

  • avoiding the exploitation of scarce natural resources is…
  • conscious consumption as a statement of personal opinion is…
  • making non-sustainable companies change their mind is…
  • encouraging retailers to stock more environmentally friendly products is…
  • my peace of mind (for saving the environment) is…
  • supporting producers of environmentally friendly products is…
  • an eco-friendly product needs to have the same quality as the conventional product…
  • eco-friendly outerwear has to be offered at the same price as conventional outerwear…
  • purchasing a product, which is readily available is…

‘extremely unimportant’ (-3) to ‘extremely important’ (+3)

Attitudes towards purchasing environmentally friendly outerwear (Descriptive results)

Attitudes towards purchasing environmentally friendly outerwear (Descriptive results)

Read the rest of this entry »


My Diploma thesis in Marketing at the TUM School of Management about “Assessing the influence of environmental identity on consumer purchase intention for green products” was handed in last year (it was graded 1.3, which is an A in Germany). Its main purpose was to derive implications for sustainable product development in the outdoor apparel market. The scope of the conducted international online survey surpassed the amount of specific results needed for statistical analysis in my paper. Therefore, the additional outcome of marketing research will be published here in several steps:

Part 1: Descriptive results of the study including consumer attitudes, the influence of social norms and perceived obstacles in the buying process in regard to green clothing.

Part 2: Does the outdoor sports participation frequency affect our level of connectedness to nature? And in return, does a strong environmental identity directly or indirectly influence consumer purchase intentions?

Part 3: Which psychological variables influence consumers’ buying intentions for green outerwear the strongest?

Follow us on Twitter (on the left) to get notified about the next update or read more about the research project… Read the rest of this entry »

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