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Sustainable consumption: green consumer behaviour when purchasing products

Author

Listed:
  • William Young

    (Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK)

  • Kumju Hwang

    (Department of Business Administration, College of Business Administration, Chonnam National University, South Korea)

  • Seonaidh McDonald

    (Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University, UK)

  • Caroline J. Oates

    (Management School, University of Sheffield, UK)

Abstract

The 'attitude-behaviour gap' or 'values-action gap' is where 30% of consumers report that they are very concerned about environmental issues but they are struggling to translate this into purchases. For example, the market share for ethical foods remains at 5 per cent of sales. This paper investigates the purchasing process for green consumers in relation to consumer technology products in the UK. Data were collected from 81 self-declared green consumers through in depth interviews on recent purchases of technology products. A green consumer purchasing model and success criteria for closing the gap between green consumers' values and their behaviour are developed. The paper concludes that incentives and single issue labels (like the current energy rating label) would help consumers concentrate their limited efforts. More fundamentally, 'being green' needs time and space in people's lives that is not available in increasingly busy lifestyles. Implications for policy and business are proposed. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • William Young & Kumju Hwang & Seonaidh McDonald & Caroline J. Oates, 2010. "Sustainable consumption: green consumer behaviour when purchasing products," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 20-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:18:y:2010:i:1:p:20-31 DOI: 10.1002/sd.394
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew Dobson, 2007. "Environmental citizenship: towards sustainable development," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(5), pages 276-285.
    2. D. Vantomme & M. Geuens & J. De Houwer & P. De Pelsmacker, 2004. "Implicit Attitudes Toward Green Consumer Behavior," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 04/224, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    3. Andreas Chatzidakis & Sally Hibbert & Andrew Smith, 2007. "Why People Don’t Take their Concerns about Fair Trade to the Supermarket: The Role of Neutralisation," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 74(1), pages 89-100, August.
    4. Marcus Sutcliffe & Paul Hooper & Ros Howell, 2008. "Can eco-footprinting analysis be used successfully to encourage more sustainable behaviour at the household level?," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 1-16.
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