'Green' scale helps predict how consumers buy environmentally friendly products

Apr 03, 2014 by Victoria Fryer

(Phys.org) —How do consumers decide when faced with the option of buying a traditional product or a competing product that is marketed as "green?" Penn State Smeal College of Business faculty member Karen Winterich and her colleagues set out to develop a scale of "green consumption values" to help predict which consumers will prefer to purchase environmentally friendly products.

The define "green " as the tendency of to express the value of environmental protection through the goods and services they purchase. To measure those values, researchers developed a six-item measure they call the GREEN scale, consisting of the following statements:

  • It is important to me that the products I use do not harm the environment.
  • I consider the potential environmental impact of my actions when making many of my decisions.
  • My purchase habits are affected by my concern for the environment.
  • I am concerned about wasting the resources of our planet.
  • I would describe myself as environmentally responsible.
  • I am willing to be inconvenienced in order to take actions that are more .

"Our primary goal is to develop a concise measure of exclusively green consumption values, as opposed to broader attitudes toward socially responsible behavior or environmental consciousness," the researchers wrote in an article to be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

In applying the GREEN scale across a series of six studies, the researchers also found that green consumption values tend to exist within a larger network of ideas and beliefs about conservation.

"We demonstrate that green consumption values are strongly related to the careful use of not just collective, environmental resources, but also personal resources," the researchers wrote. "That is, both the tendency to use financial resources wisely … and the tendency to use physical resources wisely … are positively correlated with green consumption values."

In other words, consumers that value green consumption also tend to value financial savings and reuse and repurpose goods rather than quickly disposing of them. Consumers with this set of values may experience some conflict if environmentally friendly products are more expensive or less effective than their traditional counterparts. How do consumers resolve this?

The researchers found that consumers with high green consumption values tend to evaluate products that align with these values more favorably. This "motivated reasoning" tends to counteract the perception that environmentally friendly products are less effective and/or more costly.

The GREEN scale, say the researchers, can be useful to marketing practitioners in predicting consumer preference for environmentally friendly products in a particular market or demographic.

"For example, marketers may need to continue to emphasize a value-conscious focus when positioning [environmentally friendly] products to reach consumers with higher green consumption values that also value personal financial resources," the researchers wrote.

In addition, it can help marketing researchers understand how a consumer's values affect his or her responses to environmentally based marketing actions.

Because of the motivated reasoning aspect, marketers "may need to focus more on what can be done to increase purchase of [environmentally friendly] products among consumers with weaker green consumption values since those with stronger green consumption values are motivated to do so on their own," the researchers wrote.

Explore further: Personal and social concerns motivate organic food buyers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Personal and social concerns motivate organic food buyers

Oct 21, 2013

Predicting whether consumers will purchase organic or conventional food is a multimillion dollar gamble within the food sector. A novel paper by Washington State University College of Business researchers will help advertisers ...

Coffee greenwashing works

Dec 05, 2013

Coffee labelled as "eco-friendly" can attract a premium, with consumers led to believe it tastes better, according to new research from Sweden.

Recommended for you

Local education politics 'far from dead'

6 hours ago

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

6 hours ago

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

Why aren't consumers buying remanufactured products?

9 hours ago

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members ...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

9 hours ago

People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Understanding the economics of human trafficking

Jul 28, 2014

Although Europe is one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to guaranteeing the respect of human rights, the number of people trafficked to or within the EU still amounts to several hundred ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Apr 03, 2014
Very interesting! Definitely can see where the Green Scale plays a role. We definitely take these into consideration when marketing our organic natural cleaning products.