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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).

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 »

“When you go riding or surfing you are amidst nature most of the time and we have to be aware of what’s going on. I have been surfing all my life and I see the difference between now and back in the days. You have to be touched by what’s going on if you are connected to nature.” – Maritxu Darrigrand, Marketing Director at Roxy

And that’s what the Roxy Chicken Jam 2010 was all about! It was one of the first carbon neutral boardsport events in Europe. Recent major events that have taken responsibility for their greenhouse gas emissions include: the 2007 Academy Awards, 2006 FIFA World Cup Soccer, and the Dave Matthews Band concert tour. The environmental leadership demonstrated by these events is helping to transform the event industry, with green initiatives quickly becoming an expected part of holding an event. Let’s hope the snowboarding industry – highly dependent on the earth’s climate – starts leading by example. Read the rest of this entry »

A little while ago I talked to the head of a well-known snowboard brand who is very much in favor of sustainability and tries to push this topic within the company. Against quite a bit of resistance he manages to overcome some internal obstacles to launch multiple products containing organic cotton. At one of the first press conferences announcing this new move he got some very critical feedback from a, let’s call him “green” journalist that said: “Well, congratulations, you have now moved to a type of garment that uses up even more water than with the previously used classical cotton.”

Since that conversation I was interested to find out if that statement was really true and if organic cotton is not such a good idea afterall. So let’s get to the bottom of the matter. Read the rest of this entry »

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