Eco-friendly products and environmental consciousness

This chapter present the theoretical framework that the method and analysis is built on. This structure has been chosen in order to give the reader a chance to evaluate eco-friendly product and environmental consciousness from a broad set of principles, starting broad to get narrower.

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2.1 Concept and Theory

Eco-friendly products still have an impact on the environment, but the impact is greatly reduced when compared to traditionally produced products. However, there is some eco-friendly products may even have a positive benefit, depending on how the company does its business. Many such products are also designed at lifestyle changes which benefit the environment; so, even if the product itself is not totally neutral, consumers undertake the actions after buying the product are beneficial. For example, eco-friendly light bulbs require more energy and resources to make, but they save energy once they are installed in a home.

This chapter will follow by a comprehensive analysis of the relevant literature; several choice variables that may affect consumers to purchase environmentally friendly products have been recognized. These factors can be classified into six categories: demographics, knowledge, values, attitudes, behavior, and psychological. Figure 1 is representing a theoretical framework for these factors. A review of the literature supporting the relationships posited in Figure 1 follows.

Figure 1

2.1.1 Demographics

Populations change over time, and companies must be aware of those changes. Demographics can be described as the numerical characteristics of human populations, such as age or income that used to distinguish markets. There are two reasons that had been used to describe demographic by a group of people; where demographics help define a market and studying demographics helps identify new opportunities. (Marshall, 2010)

Although much research has been done on the demographic profiles of green consumers, findings are still relatively mixed with some demographic characteristics showing more consistent results than others. According to previous demographic profiling, ecologically friendly consumers generally fall into the category of education, age and income.

Demographic profiles linked ecological consumers’ attitudes and behaviors to education (Micheal, Jasmin, and Guido, 2001). Based on Arbuthnot (1977), Schwartz and Miller (1991), Newell and Green’s (1997) study, there have positive relationship between education and the behaviors of ecological consumers. The researchers can anticipate the prospect finding constantly, because most studies have found positive correlations between green consumers’ education and attitude and/or behavior.

Ordinarily, the socially responsible consumers’ demographic profile is young and/or pre-middle age has been studies by several past researches (Anderson and Cunningham 1972; Weigel 1977; Roberts and Bacon 1997). However, the result is not really trusted by readers. There is no significant relationship between age and green attitudes and behavior (McEvoy, 1972). In others hand, Van Liere and Dunlap’s (1981) study argued that the relationship between age and green sensitivity and behavior is important and negatively correlated. Roberts (1996b) argued that the relationship to be important and positively correlated.

The previous studies on relationship between income and environmental concerns have been conflicting. There are correlated relationships between income and environmental attitudes and behavior (While Zimmer, 1994), In contrast, there is no significant relationship between income and environmental concerns have been study by Robert (1996b). According to Straughan and Roberts (1999), the researchers have found that using demographics alone to profile and segment green consumers is not helpful. Ability to predict socially responsible consumer behavior is lacking, and the researcher suggested that marketers have to recognize and integrate relevant attitudes and behaviors, individual characteristics, and buying intentions into their exploration (Robert, 1996a).

Based on Suchard and Polonski (1991) study, ecologically conscious consumers attempt to protect the environment in different ways, thus, there are different categories of ecologically concerned consumers. Several researchers had studied ecological attitudes within a marketing perspective. According to Kinnear and Taylor’s (1973) study, the researchers related their Ecological Concern Index to consumer brand impression and found that ecological concern was predicted better by individually rather than by demographic variables (Kinnear , 1974). Similarly, discounted demographic characteristics as possible segmentation variables had been studies by Kassarjian’s (1971). Nevertheless, socio-psychological and demographic variables were very important and related to social responsibility (Anderson and Cunningham (1972). Van Liere and Dunlap (1980) study had been found as a comprehensive review of social and demographic correlates of environmental concern.

According to Gatignon and Robertson’s (1985) study, the researchers recommended that younger, better educated, and higher income consumers tend to accept market innovations more quickly. There are particular social-psychographic characteristics, like innovative predisposition, risk-taking attitude, and opinion leadership have also been shown to be related to new product adoption (Midgley and Dowling, 1978; Gatignon and Robertson, 1991; and Rogers, 1995).

According to Ostlund’s (1974) research, the researcher argued that the effect of demographics was relatively weak. Native consumer innovativeness and new product adoption were positively related in the software product category (Foxall, 1995); and Steenkamp and colleagues (1999) had failed to find a relationship between a value dimension and consumer innovativeness. A contingency model has been called by researchers to better explanation for new product adoption (Midgley and Dowling, 1978, 1993; and Mudd, 1990). Midgley and Dowling (1978) had argued that the basic idea of a contingency model is that to affect individual variables on new product adoption may depend upon other personal variables or situational variables. According to Midgley and Dowling’s (1993) longitudinal study, the women’s evening wear category supply good support for their contingency model, where the effect of predispositions on new product adoption varies due to the social interaction process. Demographic variables did not judicious the relationship between consumer predisposition and new product adoption behavior as the contingency approach hypothesized (Im, 2003).

Demographic variables, most particularly (income, education, and age) are often tested in experimental research on new product adoption. Venkatraman and Price (1990), Midgley and Dowling (1993), and Im (2003) had argued that innovators tend to be younger and have higher levels of income and education. According to Gatignon and Robertson’s (1985) study, there is true for high-involvement products such as consumer durables. Higher levels of education are evocative of open-mindedness and ability to process new information and higher income indicates greater financial ability to meet the expense of new products. Age can be analytical of risk-avoidance and conservativeness, and therefore can be negatively associated with innovativeness. The effect of consumption attitudes on new product adoption may be dependently on consumers’ demographic characteristics and come out with a contingency approach. Briefly, if consumers are young, well educated, and have a high income level, even consumers with more conventional consumption attitudes may adopt a variety of new products.

2.1.2 Consumer’s Knowledge

There are some findings have been clashed by the way to judge how knowledge affects consumers’ ecological behaviors. Alba and Hutchinson (1987) had make a statement that knowledge is extensively relates to how consumers collect, group, and evaluate products, as well as being a principal predictor of environmentally friendly behavior (Vining and Ebreo 1990; Chan 1999). Knowledge can be said that it affects all stages of the decision making process, so that if have any wrong information can cause the consumers make a bad decision. As an example, most consumers are aware of the importance of reusable bag such as ‘I’m not a plastic bag ‘, give consumers a way to heal the environment by not using the plastic bag which is harm to the environement (Crane 2000).

Some people may perceive themselves as knowledgeable but when by actual measurement they are not. There is a pervasive human tendency to evaluate oneself as better than others or above average that have been study by Taylor and Brown (1988). Those people may actually be defectively educated and their purchase judgment or other actions may actually put into the problem rather than diminishing it. Measurement to weight broad levels of knowledge (not specific to making choices) and enclosed several ecological issues had been explored by previous research (Maloney and Ward, 1973; Maloney, Ward, and Braucht, 1975; Synodinos, 1990). But, Synodinos (1990) was argued that there is no important relationship between objective knowledge and the attitudinal behavioral dimensions that have been studied by Maloney, Ward, and Braucht (1975).

Buenstorf and Codes (2008) had stated that complex processes of individual and social learning had shaped out consumers behaviour by this recent theorizing in evolutionary economics. This learning theory of consumption remains within the utilitarian custom of economics proposed that consumer’s capacity has been motivated by the acts of consumption to fulfil human wants. In this point of view, explicit knowledge on the characteristics of goods has been request by consumers, as well as on the connection between goods and the satisfaction of wants. Ecological want always become a question in case of sustainable consumption. It is a necessary that human need and an explicit knowledge on the causal link between the good and the satisfaction of the need for a thing to become a consumed good (Menger, 1950). According to Oltra’s study, it suggest that consumers should have a need or a want for ecological products, information on the environmental quality of goods and knowledge on the connection between these characteristics and the satisfaction of wants (Oltra, 2009). As a result, consumers’ knowledge and perceptions, useable information will play a vital characteristic in the creation of environmental preferences.

2.1.3 Values

Behavior is influence by values (McCarty and Shrum 1994). Consumers can have the target of purchase ecologically product after they value protecting the environment. Consumers will make some classification of material difference when they buy an eco-product (Peattie, 2001). Wiener and Sukhdial’s (1990) study argued that the main cause of why consumers are not involved in ecologically favorable behavior is consumers perceived a very low level of self-involvement toward protection of the environment. To solve the problem, consumers’ environmental behavior should be motivated by highlight the importance of environmental issues. Therefore, marketers have an important role that they should communicate to the potential consumer that buying green products could have a large impact on the environment benefits (Laroche, Bergeron, and Barbaro-Forleo 2001).

Individuals had been written themselves as the cognitive patterns by understand values in their environment by come out with a general denominator in social science. The most theoretical type of social cognitions helps to realize the interpersonal world by highlighting the importance of values for behavior. Values are used to select and justify actions and to criticize people, including the self, and events. Values are both self-centre and social-centre in the sense that they are at the crossroads between the individual and the society. Schwartz and Bilsky’s (1987) study have argued that values are concepts or beliefs about desirable end states or behaviors that excel in specific situations, where it is to guide the selection or evaluation of behavior and events, and ordered by relative meaning.

There are three types of universal human requirement clarified as cognitive representations by the meaningful content of values. Kluckhohn (1951), Maslow (1959), and Rokeach’s (1973) study the biologically based needs of the organism, social interactional claims for interpersonal coordination, and social institutional demands for group welfare and survival. Hofstede and Bond (1984), and Triandis’s (1990) study the combination of both socially and personally interests on values.

The theory of values has obtained attentions in cross-cultural social science research, and also in the area of consumer behavior and marketing. Values are adopted to be shared, as a minimum by people within a culture, that’s why it used to describe the psychological comparability within and the differences across cultures. Analyze cross-cultural differences in existing behaviors are helped by investigate cross-cultural similarities and differences in values. Cultural differences in specific behaviors is more easily be interpret by point out the more abstract level of consumers’ cognitive hierarchy.

According to Schwartz’s (1992) study, values have clarifying power for a specific aspect of consumer attitudes, where namely environmental concern. An indirect approach has been choose to judge the potential values where it is to forecast behavior by testing the strength of relationship between environmental attitudes and self-reported frequency of buying organic foods.

According to Kahle’s (1983) study, the researcher defined that consumer values can applied in a selection of life situations (Kahle, 1983; Kamakura and Mazzon, 1991; Sheth et al., 1991). The study’s result is: there is a higher level of concept than consumption behaviors such as new product adoption (NPA) while consumption-level attitudes are at a level of abstraction much nearer to consumption behaviors. Brunso’s (2004) study had argued that NPA may be influence situation-specific consumer attitudes than consumer’s attitudes by applied means-end chain theory.

2.1.4 Consumer’s Attitudes

According to Schlegelmilch, Greg, and Diamantopoulos’s (1996) study, the researchers came out with the finding that attitudes are the most reliable predictor of pro-environmental purchasing behaviors. In general, there have been found that a positive correlations between environmental concern such as attitude and environmental friendly behavior (Van Liere and Dunlap 1981; Roberts and Bacon 1997). Based on the case of recycling, an important relationship between environmental concern and ecologically responsible behavior has been study by Simmons and Widmar (1990). According to Wicker’s (1969) study, the researcher had found a powerless relationship between attitudes and behavior. Findings are still questionable in study the impacts of attitudes on behavior when object a category of ecological concerned consumers is much harder than marketers expected.

Researchers have been proposed that using a single and multiple behavioral measurements on attitudes. Researchers should include other probable dominant variables (different attitude representations towards different objects), and corresponding the specificity of attitude and behavior measurement by the purposed to strengthen the relationship between attitude and behavior (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1977). Besides, there are a study shows that attitude and behavior may get advantage from the examination of multiple factors, merged with situational characteristics to validate if these factors influenced behavior (Weigel, 1983). Conjoint analysis had been suggested to test attitudes and behavior because conjoint analysis can provide information on where consumers perceived ecologically friendly of specific behaviors (Roozen and De Pelsmacker, 1998).

According to Balderjahn (1985), in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a person that can be defined as those who knows the manufacturing, allocation, utilize, and discarding of products lead to external costs, and who evaluates such external costs negatively, trying to minimize them by behavior. According to Urban (1986), Van Liere and Dunlap’s (1981) study, the researchers always interpreted environmentally relevant values, attitudes, and behavioural intentions in the research. A major determinant of buying ecologically products is environmentally concern (Brombacher and Hamm, 1990; Van Dam, 1991; and Grunert, 1993).

A consumption-related entity with some degree of favor or disfavor had been evaluated based on Eagly and Chaiken’s (1993) study. According to Brunso’s (2004) study, they are more analytical consumption behavior than other common factors, because consumption attitudes are exact to the consumption domain. Conversely, consumption attitudes are control by the overarching value systems, where it is to cover central dispositions applicable to a broad assortment of situations, contexts, and behaviors (Brunso , 2004 and Steenkamp, 1999). Clearly, consumption attitudes are tied personal values to actual consumption behaviors.

Security value is concerned with people’s needs for safety, predictability, and stability (Schwartz, 1992). According to Daghfous’s (1999) study, the level of security value hamper the acceptance of new products is high among international consumers. In consumption view, Johnson (1999) had argued that consumers’ concern for future security can be in part answered by sensible financial planning, which, consecutively reflected in their attitude toward savings (Liu and Cui, 2000). Consumers with a more positive attitude toward savings have a propensity to save more money for prospect used. Consumer purchasing power maybe negatively affected when consumers deposit their income into savings accounts.

Attitude implies a combination of factual knowledge and motivating emotional concern which result in a tendency to act. Further, it is understood that clusters of attitudes about similar environmental conditions will motivate individuals to express their attitude. Therefore, to achieved maximum impact on environmental education, it must provide factual information which will lead to understanding of the total biophysical environment, develop a concern for environmental quality which will motive citizens to work toward solutions to biophysical environmental problems, and inform citizens as to how they can play an effective role in achieving the goals derived from their attitudes.

2.1.5 Consumer’s Behavior

According to Zhong, Liljenquist, and Cain’s (2009) study, the researchers highlight the significance of global sense of morality by study the individuals’ moral reasoning and reactions to cut off events. This study argued that moral behaviors are figured into an understood calculation of self-perception where righteous behaviors boost moral self-image. It is hard to maintain a positive moral self and always costly. This is because social and ethical dilemmas usually engage in conflicts of interest. Therefore, people have a propensity to be powerfully motivated involved in pro-social and ethical behaviors if people’s moral self is threatened by a recent misbehavior. People are likely to analyze moral implications and regulate their behaviors right after their moral self experienced. This inferred that righteous acts can authorize successive asocial and immoral behaviors. Based on Sachdeva, Iliev, and Medin’s (2009) research, the researchers feel that purchasing green products declared individuals’ values of social responsibility and ethical consciousness by reminding people of their humanitarian traits may reduced charitable donations.

During the energy crisis of the late 1970s, there is a relationship to the attitudes-behavior had studies by past research (Berger and Corbin, 1992). According to Webster’s (1975) study, the researcher shows that the consumers were concerns about saving energy, but behavior on such concerns was deficient. However, many investigators believe that low level of attitude and behavioral correspondence is a answer of improper attitudinal specificity (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980). According to Suchard and Polonski’s (1991) study, the researchers had argued that ecologically awareness consumers are trying to concern for the environment in different ways. The marketers must work out carefulness when attempting to extend environmental initiatives from one ecologically conscious behavior to another (Pickett, 1993).

2.1.6 Psychological

An assorted model joins both demographics and psychographics should be preferred to the traditional demographic profiling methods in examining environmental concern; as a correlate of environmental behavior because psychographic variables present stable profiles of green consumption (Straughan and Roberts, 1999).

The psychological influences relating to ecological consumption can be supported by previous research. According to Kinnear (1974), Tucker (1980), and Roberts’s (1996) study, the researchers had argued the effectiveness on consumer’s perceived. This study investigated the level to any consumer can have an impact on the environment. As a finding result shows that there is a high level of perceived consumers’ effectiveness in greater levels of green consumerism. Based on Schwepker and Cornwell (1991), and Sparks and Shepherd’s (1992) research, they argued the self efficacy is related to one’s ability to join in green consumption. Some previous studies the meaning of social responsibility and it is an extent to which an individual feels morally responsible to take part (Tucker, 1980; Schwepker and Cornwell, 1991; and Mainerei, 1997).

The causal model depicted in Figure 1 includes five dimensions of ecologically responsible consumption patterns. Two of them concern energy conservation patterns. The use of home insulation goods is measured by three indicators (“use of double glazing windows,” ” use of wall cavity insulation,” and “insulation of windows”), and the dimension of energy curtailment is measured by two indicators (“reduce heating” and “take a shower instead of having a bath”). Ecologically responsible buying and using of products is a further dependent dimension of our causal model, which is operationalized by three indicators (“buy less packaged products,” ” use returnables,” and “use fewer detergents”). If a brand’s ecological impact is questionable, the ecologically concerned consumer has the alternative either to change to a nonpolluting brand or to express dissatisfaction to the manufacturer of that product (Hirschman, 1970). A more general, but not productspecific, act of ecologically concerned consumers is to support or to join environmental protection organizations as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with environmentally harmful goods. To take into account this general ecologically behavioral pattern, our causal model includes a dimension of environmental concern that is measured by two indicators (“signing ecologically relevant petitions” and “support or join an antipollution organization”). The ecologically responsible use of automobiles completes the list of dependent behavioral dimensions specified in the causal model. Four measures are used as indicators (“only driving if necessary , ” “economical driving,” ” driving bicycles instead of cars,” and “reduce


Henion (1976) postulates that ecologically concerned consumers possess certain psychological characteristics to a significantly higher degree than other consumers. Webster (1975) developed his so-called social involvement model, which suggests that socially conscious consumers are more active and socially involved than the average consumer. This study includes consumers’

personality traits that reflect the degree of alienation and emotional expressiveness. We hypothesize that ecologically concerned consumers, although they are more alienated from the core culture, are active and not willing to suppress dissatisfaction with the perceived environmental pollution. Each trait is operationalized by two measures (“give way to one’s feelings” and “suppress emotions” for emotional expressiveness, and “unsureness in dealing with others” and “like to be in the center of attention” for alienation) using the multiple indicator measurement model (for further details, see Balderjahn, 1988).

Kinnear et al. (1974) were the first who identified the so-called characteristic of perceived consumer effectiveness. This is a measure of the extent to which a person believes that an individual consumer can be effective in pollution abatement. Henion and Wilson (1976) relate that variable to the concept of locus of control. Empirical results suggest that the ecologically concerned consumer is an internally controlled individual. It should be mentioned that this control concept operates as a strong predictor in the domain of the individual’s perception of economic problems (Strtimpel, 1976). Furthermore, because the control belief mediates the impact of success or failure on the expectancy of reinforcements, the close relationship between

that concept of locus of control and the theory of causal attribution is evident. Here, a binary measure of personal control (internal or external) and a measure of ideology control (“perceived power of changing adverse social conditions”) are analyzed. We hypothesize that the ecologically concerned consumer is an internally controlled person who believes in people’s power of changing perceived adverse social conditions.

The very early research on ecologically concerned consumers focuses on attitudes as descriptor and predictor variables. According to Kinnear et al. (1974), a buyer’s attitude must express his/her concern for ecology. Attitudes have served as predictors of energy conservation behavior, ecologically conscious purchase and use of products and recycling. In our study, three measures of environmental attitudes are included to explain behavior. These are the pro-con attitude toward nuclear energy, the attitude toward pollution (measured along a 4-point rating scale), and the attitude toward ecologically conscious living. The latter attitude combines two measures in a multiple indicator model (“deviate from societal consensus” and “go to native”). We hypothesize that the attitude toward pollution and the attitude toward ecologically conscious living predict behavior-especially the latter, because of its higher specificity. Additionally, it is assumed that the attitude toward nuclear energy’can serve as a proxi-variable to identify ecologically

concerned consumers.

Socioeconomic and demographic variables are easy to assess, and they therefore play an important role in market segmentation. Unfortunately, the predictive power of demographic and socioeconomic variables is generally low. Here, we hypothesized that ecologically concerned consumers are better educated, younger, and have a higher income than the average consumer. Sex and occupational status are included in a rather exploratory sense. Education, income, and occupational status are summarized to an index of the consumers’ socioeconomic status. We assume that ecologically concerned consumers occupy a higher status than others. Furthermore, we are interested in the impact of cultural factors on nonpolluting consumption patterns. The number of friends, the friends’ social position, and the place of residence may be important cultural factors in explaining ecological consciousness, because they reflect different socialization conditions in which the consumer acts.

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