Free Essay

Sustainable Consumption

In: Social Issues

Submitted By anitan
Words 7596
Pages 31
Sustainable Development Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) Published online 10 March 2009 in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/sd.394

Sustainable Consumption: Green Consumer Behaviour when Purchasing Products
William Young1*, Kumju Hwang2, Seonaidh McDonald3 and Caroline J. Oates4
1

Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK 2 Department of Business Administration, College of Business Administration, Chonnam National University, South Korea 3 Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University, UK 4 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.
Received 12 December 2007; revised 30 June 2008; accepted 4 July 2008 Keywords: ethical; green; environmental; sustainable; consumer; purchase; consumption; behaviour

Introduction
VERY TIME SOMEONE MAKES A DECISION ABOUT WHETHER (OR NOT) TO PURCHASE A PRODUCT OR SERVICE THERE IS the potential for that decision to contribute to a more or less sustainable pattern of consumption. Each purchase has ethical, resource, waste and community impact implications. When individuals consider the adoption of sustainable lifestyles, they engage with an increasingly complex decision-making process. These everyday decisions on practical environmental or ethical solutions often result in trade-offs between conflicting issues and result in a ‘motivational and practical complexity of green consumption’ (Moisander, 2007, p. 404).

E

* Correspondence to: Dr. William Young, Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. E-mail: w.young@see.leeds.ac.uk
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Green Consumer Behaviour when Purchasing Products

21

The aim of this paper is to attempt to discover the micro-purchase decision process of green consumers.1 This will be done through interviews of self-declared green consumers from Yorkshire in the UK. The product focus is consumer technology products including • • • • • • cars, white goods (major household electrical appliances such as fridges and washing machines), brown goods (household electrical entertainment appliances such as televisions and CD players), small household appliances (such as electric kettles and bread makers), computers and green electricity tariffs.

We wanted to investigate how green consumers decided which technology product to purchase and what factors influenced this purchase decision process. Why is this of interest? First, there has been a growing interest in informing consumers about the environmental aspects to take into account when buying products. In the UK, this has been from the pressure groups, e.g. Friends for the Earth, consumer groups, e.g. National Consumer Council, government, e.g. Carbon Trust, and even business, e.g. the Co-operative Bank. This was given a political boost by the publication of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (Stern, 2006). The interest lies with how consumers that are most likely to react to this information, namely green consumers, put the information into action when purchasing products. We refer readers to the work of Jackson (2005), who provides a comprehensive review of the literature on consumer behaviour and behavioural change. He concludes on the evidence base for different models of change and recommendations to policy-makers to encouraging more sustainable lifestyles. Faiers et al. (2007) have also produced a useful categorization and review of consumer behaviour theories that relate to the critical internal and external factors influencing consumer choice in respect of energy use. The categories are (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) consumer choice; needs, values and attitudes; learning; social learning; buying process; categorization of consumers and product attributes and categorization.

The data collected in the research for this paper focus on the fifth point, which is the buying process of green consumers relating to consumer technology products. The ethical issues surrounding consumer technology products could be categorized into three general areas. The first is the use and disposal of the product such as energy consumption levels and recyclability. The second is the production and transport of the product, including the heavy metals used, which are often toxic, non-recycled or recyclable materials, and conditions under which the products are made, including poor worker rights. The final area is the general corporate responsibility activities of the retailing and manufacturing companies as well as any suppliers, owners or subsidiaries of these companies. The latter may include any other products, services or investments in ‘unethical activities’ such as the manufacturing of armaments. This is not generally discussed in the academic literature for electronics products but the UK Ethical Consumer Magazine does rate products on these issues.

Background
This section aims to provide a summary of key literature relating to the micro purchasing processes of green consumers. Dobson (2007) argues that behaviour change towards sustainable development that is driven
1 The work presented here draws on several areas of literature, which use different terms to describe consumers engaged in sustainable consumption behaviours. In this report, the term ‘green’ consumer is used, which we consider to have the same broad meanings as ‘environmental’, ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ consumers, who prefer products or services that do least damage to the environment as well as those that support forms of social justice. ‘Grey’ consumer is used for consumers who generally do not have green values or lifestyles.

Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

22

W. Young et al.

by environmental citizenship considerations is more likely to last than behaviour driven by financial incentives. He states that attitudes work at a deeper level than behaviour, but that behaviour change is what most environmental policy is aimed at, especially the UK government’s sustainable development strategy, detailing fiscal incentives. Environmental citizenship works at a deeper level by asking people to reflect on the attitudes that inform their behaviour. Evidence from Sheth et al. (1991) supports this assertion by concluding that, for grey consumers, consumption values explain consumer choice behaviour (i.e. why consumers choose to buy or not buy a particular product or service). These values attach to criteria in decision making. Criteria retain various consumption values, such as functional, emotional, cognitive, social and conditional values. For example, sales techniques, and brand criteria are closely related to the emotional value (Sheth et al., 1991). However, it is important to mention the so called ‘attitude–behaviour gap’ or ‘values–action gap’. For example, 30% of UK consumers report that they are very concerned about environmental issues (Defra, 2006), but they struggle to translate this concern into green purchases. Evidence of this gap is illustrated by Hughner et al. (2007), who show that, despite generally favourable attitudes that consumers hold for organic food (between 46 and 67% of the population), actual purchase behaviour forms only 4–10% of different product ranges. Further evidence shows that the market share for ethical foods has remained at 5 per cent of total food sales for the last 3 years (Co-operative Bank, 2007). Analysing why green values have a weaker influence on the decision making process when actually purchasing a product is vital in understanding and changing consumer behaviour towards sustainable consumption. According to Biel and Dahlstrand (2005), Sener and Hazer (2008) and Wheale and Hinton (2007), this could be down to • • • • • • • • • brand strength, culture, demographic characteristics, finance, habit, lack of information, lifestyles, personalities or trading off between different ethical factors.

Chatzidakis et al. (2007) argue that consumers use neutralization techniques to justify pursuing their more selfish goals instead of purchasing fair trade products in the UK. Biel and Dahlstrand (2005) show (see Table 1) that this may also be due to the relative cognitive effort required in buying a product based on values. The context of the purchase is important, including demographic, social, political, economic and psychological factors as well as temporal and ideological structuring of domestic practices (Hand et al., 2007). In addition, Williams and Dair (2007) argue that without changes to the built environment some sustainable behaviour cannot take place. Peattie (1999) suggests that the clearest way to understand green consumerism is by viewing each individual’s consumption behaviour as a series of purchase decisions. These decisions may be inter-related and underpinned by common values or they may be unconnected and situational. Looking at sustainable consumption in this way leads to a micro focus on individual purchases, an approach we have followed with our research. This perspective has served to highlight the nature of compromises reached in real decision processes. In this way individuals or families build up portfolios of purchase (or non-purchase) decisions (Peattie, 1999), which may or may not be

Demand of mental resources Low High

No decision made in the situation; memory-based choices Habit Implementation intention

A decision is made in the situation; motivated choices Need guided Value guided

Table 1. Different kinds of choice processes in everyday purchase situations (Biel and Dahlstrand, 2005, p. 44)
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

Green Consumer Behaviour when Purchasing Products

23

linked or underpinned by a belief set. It is at this level of analysis that we see the ability to take forward the debate on sustainable consumption and the problems and issues it raises for real consumers. Barr and Gilg (2006) found from their survey of sustainable household activities in Devon, UK, that green purchasing behaviour was the least popular activity alongside activities such as recycling and habitual household activities. However, their data show that, not surprisingly, green consumers do consider environmental factors when purchasing products (a weekly activity), but engaged more frequently in activities such as switching off lights and recycling paper (daily activities). Another questionnaire survey in the UK by Wheale and Hinton (2007) suggested that amongst the population of green consumers there is a hierarchy of importance of ethical drivers in the purchase decision-making process. The environment was rated as the most important ethical driver during purchasing decisions, followed by human rights then animal rights/welfare issues. The findings revealed that some product groups are more strongly linked to ethical issues (and bundles of issues) than others, with ‘food goods’ being most strongly linked and ‘brown goods’ being least strongly linked (Wheale and Hinton, 2007). Academic research into the buying process of green or sustainable products has increased over the last few years. Harrison et al. (2005) have produced a typology of ethical consumer practices (see Table 2) according to how the consumer is relating to, or trying to influence, the product or seller. This is useful for analysing ethical consumer purchases. There are product sector specific examples of research on green buying process, such as food and household products (Vantomme et al., 2005) and clothes (Shaw et al., 2006). On the other hand, much brand boycotting research focuses on discourse (e.g. consumer ideology, globalization, consumer culture) around green consumers’ boycotting rather than how boycotting influences actual purchasing choices (e.g. Thompson and Arsel, 2004; Kozinet and Handelman, 2004). Studies tackling technology-based products, for example washing machines, cars and fridge freezers, have been rare in relation to green consumers’ purchase decisions. Technology-based product purchasing involves a number of aspects that distinguish it from low involvement product purchasing (i.e. product purchasing that involves little risk, such as cleaning products or coffee). De Pelsmacker et al. (2005) identify reasons for less green consumption, such as lack of availability of green products, disbelief of green claims and lack of information. The conflicting and complex nature of environmental information can also be overwhelming for consumers (Moisander, 2007). In addition, Sriram and Forman (1993) showed that consumers place less value on products’ environmental performance in the case of purchasing high involvement products than in the case of frequently purchased products. However, retailers can help by narrowing or promoting brands by limiting customers’ choices on the shelves (Quelch and Harding, 1996), but often this means not including green products. Where they are available, the Swiss study by Sammer and Wüstenhagen (2006) shows that consumers presented with the EC Energy label were willing to pay more for ‘A’ rated washing machines. To motivate the consumer, Sutcliffe et al. (2008) has shown how tools such as eco-footprinting analysis for individuals can result in reductions to their environmental impact.

Product-oriented purchasing Boycotts Positive buying Fully screened (comparative ethical ratings across whole product area) Relationship purchasing (consumers seek to educate sellers about their ethical needs) Anti-consumerism or sustainable consumerism e.g. aerosols and peat e.g. Fairtrade mark and Blue Angel eco-label e.g. Green Consumer Guide and Which? e.g. community supported agriculture

Company-oriented purchasing e.g. Nestlé and Shell e.g. Body Shop ‘against animal testing’ e.g. Ethical Consumer magazine e.g. individual consumer building relationships with shopkeepers e.g. Adbusters

e.g. avoiding unsustainable products such as cars

Table 2. Typology of ethical consumer practices (Harrison et al., 2005, p. 3)
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

24

W. Young et al.

This is a direct result of understanding the size of their ecological footprint and the resultant environmental unsustainability of their lifestyles. How they do this when purchasing products is the focus of this paper.

Methodology
In this section we briefly explain the research methods used in the data collection. The authors employed in-depth interviews for data collection to explore consumers’ actual purchasing behaviour and reasoning for this behaviour. We believe that this was a better method of data collection than questionnaires, which tend to collect data on consumers’ behavioural aims rather than actual behaviour. Between April 2004 and April 2005 we completed a programme of 81 semi-structured interviews focused mainly in the Yorkshire region in the UK with self-selecting green consumers. This number of interviews enabled us to achieve theoretical saturation in our target group (Gummesson, 1991). Our recruitment strategy was to encompass a range of green consumers from different age ranges, genders and socio-economic groups. The interviewees were recruited through several means including the following. • • • • • • • Members of organic box schemes. Posters and leaflets in wholefood, fairtrade, organic and charity shops. Members of the Friends of the Earth group. An advert in the newsletter of the UK Quakers sustainability self-help group. Posters, leaflets and emails to Buddhist centres in the UK. News item in the Ethical Consumer magazine. News item in the Pure magazine.

This variety of sources was used in order to make sure that interviewees reflected as many different aspects of sustainable consumption. Further interviewees were recruited using the snowballing technique from initial contacts. Although we deliberately approached green consumers, we did not make our interest in environmental purchase criteria explicit prior to the final part of the interview. The interviews were designed in three parts. In the first phase, in line with critical incident techniques (EasterbySmith et al., 2002), interviewees were asked to supply some examples of recent purchases (or non-purchases) of generally one-off expensive large technology-based products. We focused on products where consumers would be more likely to remember their purchase decision-making process, because the products were expensive and rarely purchased, rather than habitual everyday purchases, such as food. Products discussed included a wide range of white goods (cookers, fridges, freezers, dishwashers, washing machines etc) and brown goods (televisions, stereos, computers etc) as well as cars, low energy light bulbs and green energy tariffs. In the second phase of the interview, participants were asked to describe in detail their purchase decisions for two or three of the items that they had identified in phase one. We asked them to tell us about their purchase processes from the first inclination to research or purchase, through to reflections on their post-purchase experiences, including disposal where applicable. We also encouraged them to talk about the lifestyle contexts of their purchases (such as moving house, having children or a busy job) in order to understand their reasons for beginning the purchase process. In the final phase of the interview, we asked participants to tell us about their other purchase habits, including their routines for purchasing food and household products. In this section, we explicitly instigated discussion about green and ethical purchase criteria if these had not come up in the course of the interview. In both of the latter phases we used laddering techniques in order to aid the elicitation of the necessary level of detail (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988). In order to capture both the reasoning and sequence of the decision-making processes and the information flows that support them, we originally planned to use cognitive mapping to record, manage and analyse the interview data using ‘Decision Explorer’ software (McDonald et al., 2004). After examining the maps both visually and through the software’s analytical functions we realized that, although the mapping process did capture the ‘flow’ of the decision making process, and was good at depicting the influence of different information sources, much of the sense of context for this process was lost. We therefore conducted additional analysis of the interview data. This was conducted in accordance with the framework developed by Miles and Huberman (1994), which comprises
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

Green Consumer Behaviour when Purchasing Products

25

three components: data reduction, data display and drawing conclusions. Accordingly, the analysis involved the selection of underlying factors through manual highlighting, and broad categories were manually narrowed down to more focused concepts, as will be shown in the next section.

Results and Analysis
This section reports on the analysis of 81 green consumers’ decision-making processes when buying a technologybased product. The most common green criteria that our interviewees mentioned when they were deciding which consumer electronics products to purchase were mainly what could be classified as (1) product environmental performance (energy efficiency, durability, water consumption, LPG conversion, fuel type, fuel consumption and energy ratings); (2) product manufacturing (recycled material content, chemical content and repairability) and (3) second hand availability. The situational context for each interviewee’s purchase is important and was made up of any number of interdependent factors, which included time of purchase, experience of using or buying other (similar or different) products or services, lifestyle, life stage, living arrangements and work patterns. The problem here is that we could only record factors that the interviewee was conscious of and not the influences that consumers are unaware of, as discussed by Hand et al. (2007). Contextual factors are important but we focused on how the green consumer made conscious purchase decisions. The most common situational context for the purchase of white goods mentioned by our interviewees was moving house. This affected decision-making processes in terms of limiting research time and deciding on the most important green issues for that product, causing concern for many interviewees, for example Definitely a kind of trade off with wanting to shop as ethically as possible and the time factor as well and how much you look into it. In retrospect, I probably would look much more at what the company gets involved in now but at the time we had just moved house and had no resources. . . . if you are rushed into doing something you can only do as much as is easily available. I think again it is a balance of how much time you have got to put into all of this. It is a very time consuming exercise and there are other things in one’s life that you want to do. You don’t particularly want to spend another two weeks researching on a company and at the end of the day we needed a cooker and I was happy I think with the amount of work we had done up to then and had to draw the line somewhere. This lack of time influenced interviewees’ to exclude criteria that are more time consuming to research, such as the details of a company’s corporate social responsibility programme. This supported by the work of Biel and Dahlstrand (2005). Lack of time for research, decision-making and the purchase was the first of five main barriers for our interviewees for purchasing greener products. The second barrier was the price of a product, which is well known and specifically supports the findings of Sriram and Forman (1993); for example, If I could have had both ovens as energy rating ‘A’ I would have preferred that but given that I had a budget ... [Ethical Consumer Magazine] said that the stereo systems which are best are the expensive ones which you buy as bits and fix together, and I didn’t have eight hundred pounds. Hence price often reduced the influence of interviewees’ green values in their decision making process. This was certainly the case for expensive low energy large kitchen electronic products, lower carbon dioxide emitting cars and products made in the UK under better working conditions than in developing countries.
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

26

W. Young et al.

For our green consumers the third major barrier was the lack of available information on the environmental and social performance of products and manufacturers, as opposed to lack of time to find the information in the first barrier. For example, these interviewees pointed out the lack of information available on companies’ CSR programmes: . . . certainly with washing machines there was talk about the energy efficiency which is quite good . . . you don’t have anything about their policies or the company. They are having to make their environmental policies available etc and that is really what you have to rely on. . . . the environmental one tend to be quite vague. I would say it is quite difficult to find. This lack of information was most prevalent for computers, televisions, DVD players and hi-fis, which supports work by Biel and Dahlstrand (2005), De Pelsmacker et al. (2005) and Wheale and Hinton (2007). In some cases, the lack of information as well as more green alternatives made the interviewee discard green criteria. Fourth, our green consumers found that the cognitive effort in researching, decision-making and searching for the products was great, which supports findings by Biel and Dahlstrand (2005); for example, . . . it is always an effort researching things and finding out each time . . . you kind of have to start the whole process over again and it kind of complicates it It is hard work being green. It is hard work being socially aware. It is hard work making the right decisions. It is hard work making decisions so there does have to be a compromise. This was a barrier for several reasons. The first was that (as previously discussed), large household appliances were often bought at the stressful event of moving house where there was not the luxury of time to think through the green issues. Second, the nature of the large technology-based product purchase (i.e. rare and relatively expensive purchase) makes it more cognitive than habitual. Consumers needed new conscious searches for appropriate information, such as the product’s environmental impacts and the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance. This could support the conclusions by Sriram and Forman (1993) that consumers place less value on products’ environmental performance in the case of purchasing high involvement products than in the case of frequently purchased products. However, facilitators can (as discussed below) override this assertion. In addition, learning about a new product’s environmental and social impacts means dealing with often complex and perplexing information, which supports Moisander’s (2007) conclusions. The final barrier is the prioritizing of non-green criteria, which is supported by the work of Sheth et al. (1991). The inclusion of non-green criteria, habits and desires in their decision making included specification, recognized brand and specific brand, size, price (including discount), information source (Which, previous experience), reliability, type (e.g. sports car), model, appearance, design, colour, age, mileage, sales technique, service history, retailer choice and free and timely delivery. Not surprisingly these non-green criteria, habits and desires reduced the influence of many of our interviewees’ green criteria in their decision making process; for example, He is a trustworthy local person who has a good reputation and so I trusted him and we bought a fridge off him when we first moved to our house and we didn’t have too much money and it worked fantastically well and so when we wanted a bigger fridge and a freezer we went back to him and . . . it was a great incentive . . . that he would take our old one off our hands and resell it and give us a brand new one. Well a second hand reconditioned new one and that’s ideal for me. There are brands that you know that are good but they also tend to be the ones that have concentrated on energy efficiency so that was ok but I think I probably wouldn’t have bought certain brands if I didn’t . . . feel that they were tried and trusted traditional brands. Interviewees knew the environmental impacts of the products they were purchasing but a few found that the ecoefficiency consumer approach was not far reaching enough. These few tried to avoid electronics products because
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

Green Consumer Behaviour when Purchasing Products

27

the environmental and social problems were so great. Many were also anti-multinational brands and companies and tried to buy from local or small retailers and companies; for example, You can’t say ‘oh I will buy this video recorder because it’s less harmful to the environment than that one’. They’re not built; they are equally harmful so it makes very little difference. I mean they are all made, they’ve all got integrated circuits in them which were washed with nasty chemicals and they are all made out of plastics that will never rot, so its not that one has an advantage over the other so even if you’re aware of green issues it doesn’t come into the equation, they are all very similar. I tend to shop or get products that aren’t produced by multinationals for example but that is very difficult with electrical products so where that was concerned the actual company was not so much of an issue it was more the energy side. We bought our products very locally even though they travelled a long way to get there physically we didn’t have to travel a long way to get it. These purchasing practices show evidence of the classifications by Harrison et al. (2005) of boycotts or anticonsumerism. However, there were three factors that facilitated green criteria in the product purchase decision. The first method interviewees used to reduce cognitive effort, especially under time pressure, was to trust certain information sources, labels or organizations providing a shortcut to choosing a greener product, which supports the work of Sammer and Wüstenhagen (2006); for example, It was actually in the Comet store. I wanted to get the washing machine into the house quickly and when I went along they had the washing machines on display and they actually had this sticker rating which was based on water consumption and electricity consumption . . . it was quite helpful yes. It was promoted through Greenpeace and so I trust them so I decided to change just on that basis and I wanted a more ethical alternative to anything I will take it. This leads to the second facilitation factor of availability of green products and usually in mainstream retailers. This may be a particular factor for technology products, which are one-off expensive purchases with which the consumer does not want to take high levels of risk. The third facilitator of guilt was an overriding theme for our green consumers that seemed to motivate them in maintaining green criteria. They felt guilt for having other (non-green) priorities, not prioritizing green criteria, not being able to purchase the greenest product, not researching enough, not knowing about certain issues at the time of purchase that they discovered afterwards and overall for purchasing and using these products in the first place. For example, Well I am ashamed, . . . I bought a Creda . . . that didn’t rate highest in Ethical Consumers’ environmental list but the Consumer Association recommended it for various reasons in terms of efficiency . . . and also one needed the right size and the right thing for one’s domestic requirements and so I’m afraid that pushed me into a decision into buying Creda rather than something that would have been environmentally kinder so I feel a bit guilty about that. It seems to bother me less if I’m shopping in somewhere that’s kind of a bit better because it’s run by a bloke, his brother and his cousin, rather than somewhere like Tesco’s where I have this slight sense of ‘I shouldn’t be doing this’ because they’re an evil corporation. I think probably what I’m doing is assuaging my guilt about the fact that I’m a consumer in the West and I consume however many times more than is my share of the whole world. In summary, the key themes from this analysis are barriers of lack of time for research, high prices, lack of information, the cognitive effort needed for each purchase and strong non-green criteria. Green consumers found green
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

28

W. Young et al.

labels, specialist information, availability of green products in mainstream retails and guilt as facilitators of green criteria in their purchases.

Discussion and Conclusions
The aim of this paper was to research the micro purchase process of green consumers. Data were collected through in depth interviews of self-declared green consumers from Yorkshire in the UK, focused on recent historical purchases of consumer technology products. In this final section we shall develop a green consumer purchasing model and discuss practical implications, limitations and future research. From the results discussed in the previous section, we have developed a tentative green consumer purchase model illustrated in Figure 1. It summarizes each micro purchase process for a green consumer of consumer technology product in the UK. It consists of five elements. The socio-economic, infrastructure and cultural context of the purchase is important (Hand et al., 2007), but was not explored by this study due to limited time and resources. However, our results show that each individual purchase was framed by situational factors such as moving house, and retailers with green product range within travelling distance. This caused barriers, as discussed below. The first element of our circular movement of individual green consumer’s purchase processes is her or his green values. Like the context, this frames the purchase in terms of the motivation to pursue green criteria. It is influenced by the consumer’s knowledge of the relevant issues as well as how previous purchase experience influenced the consumer. The second element is choosing the green criteria for that individual purchase. There are usually only a handful (such as in the case of a washing machine a high energy efficiency rating). Once the consumer has decided to investigate the product in question, primary and secondary green criteria are formed from research into the ethics of a product and manufacturer, talking to friends and family or browsing on the internet or in retailers. At the risk of sounding too precise, in most cases, we cannot find a clear correlation between green values (Point 1 in Figure 1) and green criteria (Point 2 in Figure 1) for technology products. This confirms the opinion of Sriram and Forman (1993) and Peattie’s (1999) notion of a context dependent portfolio of (possibly inconsistent) purchases. In other words, regardless of green values, the majority of our interviewees (green consumers) in general only adopted product environmental performance as a green criterion, reflecting the findings of Wheale and Hinton (2007). Only a very few used sustainability portfolios (i.e. green product plus green manufacturer plus green retailer) for their choice of technology-based products. We consider that there may be only a very small minority of consumers who have very strong sustainable lifestyles, such as high level voluntary simplifiers (McDonald

Figure 1. Green consumer purchasing model
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

Green Consumer Behaviour when Purchasing Products

29

et al., 2006), who apply the criteria and processes that they have developed for their everyday shopping to the purchase of technology-based products. Primary green criteria are usually unmovable during the purchase process but secondary green criteria are discarded if there are strong barriers (Element 3 in Figure 1) to green criteria influencing the purchase (as discussed in the results). These barriers may partially explain the attitude–behaviour gap. Alongside the barriers are factors that facilitate the consumer’s green criteria influencing the purchase decision. These act as affirmation factors to green criteria. The green consumer is influenced by both barriers and facilitating factors during the whole purchase process. This interplay could be investigated further. Finally, the purchase made by the green consumer (using the factors discussed) is different each time. The purchase experience and knowledge gained from each purchase process (as well as the guilt from not purchasing the greenest product) are fed back into the consumer’s general green values and knowledge, which influences the next purchase. With knowledge of the general purchasing process of green consumers, the key factors that will help green consumers purchase a more ethical technology product are (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) the consumer’s green value is strong; the consumer has purchase experience; the consumer has plenty of time for research and decision-making; s/he has good knowledge of the relevant environmental issues; green products are reasonably available and the consumer can afford and is prepared for the financial costs.

If any one of these criteria is a weak or negative influence, then this may water down the influence of the green criteria on the final purchase. Hence, it can be concluded that government, company and NGO policies need to strengthen these success factors for green consumers to close the attitude–behaviour gap. There are also good recommendations for companies wanting to market their product’s environmental attributes in the work of Ottman et al. (2006), which we support. It should be noted that this conclusion is limited to geographical, product range and consumer type studied. General conclusions for green consumers across the UK and other countries need to be verified through further research. In addition, we can only make conclusions for green consumers and not for grey consumers, who will not have the green motivations in general and need to be studied to learn lessons for behaviour change towards sustainable development. For the first success factor, we agree with Dobson’s (2007) assertion that, for long lasting and large behaviour changes, environmental values need to be developed through education before anything else in the model can work. This should also include developing research, information interpretation and decision making skills. The strength of green value needs to be measured to ascertain the success of different levels of value on influencing behaviour. This in retrospect is a weakness of this project’s methodology in not collecting this data and only relying on self-declared green consumers as interviewees. Success Factor 4 depends on the availability of specialist information sources and green labels (for a further discussion of this see Oates et al., 2008) and a matter of education (formal and informal) as for Factor 1 above. We would endorse the recommendation by Ottman et al. (2006) to educate consumers on environmental product claims and marketing. Sutcliffe et al. (2008) have shown how tools such as eco-footprinting analysis for individuals can be a success, but we would also suggest that government provide a clearer and stronger regulation of such claims to prevent a greenwash, especially on climate change. Our results show that the EU Energy Label on white goods was widely used as a key short cut in decision making, which supports the study by Sammer and Wüstenhagen (2006). We suggest that single issue green labels for the most significant environmental aspect for that product need to be developed for different product types. This is in order to focus purchasing behaviour on reducing the most important environmental impacts. For retailers, our results imply that green consumers will purchase green products if they are available in a range (not just as a one off product) helping with Success Factor 5. Quelch and Harding (1996) have shown that retailers already act as a filter of products, but if retailers filter for green products our results show that consumers are more likely to trust and purchase green products available in large retailers. It is difficult to develop recommendations for Success Factors 2, 3 and 5, but some may follow from policies for the other success factors.
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

30

W. Young et al.

Finally, from our study even our self-declared green consumers are not equipped or motivated enough to make decisions on which issue is the most significant for each purchase and alter their purchase accordingly. In addition, they do not have the time for research, information interpretation and product search required for green purchasing. Therfore, we worry that any government policy that solely relies on green consumers (never mind grey consumers) as agents of change for consumer products is misguided. Our results show that green consumers can use their buying power to make a difference, but at a high cost in terms of effort and time, which is a significant barrier. These consumers need help from government in the form of incentives and single issue labels to show them where they should be concentrating their limited efforts. More fundamentally, ‘being green’ needs time and space in peoples’ lives that is not available in increasingly busy lifestyles. Therefore, there need to be coherent sustainable production and consumption policies across government departments, not just ‘green advice’ to consumers. Future research could use social experiments to test out different information sources (e.g. from self-help books) and motivational methods (e.g. community groups) or policy scenarios in a range of different socio-economic and geographical locations to tease out the influence of context on decision making and the success or otherwise of different approaches. Other research could analyse more fully the conflicts between different ethical values and how they are reconciled. There is still a lot of research to done to understand and help behaviour change towards sustainability.

Acknowledgement
The authors are grateful to the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Sustainable Technologies Programme for funding the project ‘Trade-offs in decision-making for sustainable technologies’ (award RES-388-25-0001), of which this paper is an output. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments that helped shape this paper.

References
Barr S, Gilg A. 2006. Sustainable lifestyles: framing environmental action in and around the home. Geoforum 37: 906–920. DOI: 10.1016/ j.geoforum.2006.05.002 Biel A, Dahlstrand U. 2005. Values and habits: a dual-process model. In Environment, Information and Consumer Behaviour, Krarup S, Russell CS (eds). Elgar: Cheltenham; 33–50. Chatzidakis A, Hibbert S, Smith AP. 2007. Why people don’t take their concerns about fair trade to the supermarket: the role of neutralisation. Journal of Business Ethics 74: 89–100. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-006-9222-2 Co-operative Bank. 2007. Ethical Consumerism Report 2007. http://www.goodwithmoney.co.uk/servlet/Satellite/1200903577501,CFSweb/Page/ GoodWithMoney [25 June 2008]. De Pelsmacker P, Driesen L, Rayp G. 2005. Do consumers care about ethics? Willingness to pay for fair-trade coffee. Journal of Consumer Affairs 39(2): 363–385. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6606.2005.00019.x Defra. 2006. Sustainable Consumption and Production: Encouraging Sustainable Consumption. http://www.sustainable-development.gov.uk/what/ priority/consumption-production/consumption.html [1 November 2006]. Dobson A. 2007. Environmental citizenship: towards sustainable development. Sustainable Development 15: 276–285. DOI: 10.1002/sd.344 Easterby-Smith M, Thorpe R, Lowe A. 2002. Management Research – an Introduction, 2nd edn. Sage: London. Faiers A, Cook M, Neame C. 2007. Towards a contemporary approach for understanding consumer behaviour in the context of domestic energy use. Energy Policy 35: 4381–4390. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2007.01.003 Gummesson E. 1991. Qualitative Methods in Management Research. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA. Hand M, Shove E, Southerton D. 2007. Home extensions in the United Kingdom: space, time, and practice. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25(4): 668–681. DOI: 10.1068/d413t Harrison R, Newholm T, Shaw D (eds). 2005. The Ethical Consumer. Sage: London. Hughner RS, McDonagh P, Prothero A, Shultz CJ II, Stanton J. 2007. Who are organic food consumers? A compilation and review of why people purchase organic food. Journal of Consumer Behaviour 6: 94–110. DOI: 10.1002/cb.210 Jackson T. 2005. Motivating Sustainable Consumption: a Review of Evidence on Consumer Behaviour and Behavioural Change. Policy Studies Institute: London. http://sdrnadmin.rechord.com/wp-content/uploads/motivatingscfinal_000.pdf [24 June 08]. Kozinet RV, Handelman JM. 2004. Adversaries of consumption: consumer movements, activism and ideology. Journal of Consumer Research 31: 691–704. McDonald S, Daniels K, Harris C. 2004. Mapping methods for organisational research. In Essential Guidebook for Qualitative Research Methods, Cassell C, Symon G (eds). Sage: London; 73–85.
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

Green Consumer Behaviour when Purchasing Products

31

McDonald S, Oates C, Young CW, Hwang K. 2006. Toward sustainable consumption: researching voluntary simplifiers. Psychology and Marketing 23: 515–534. DOI: 10.1002/mar.20132 Miles MB, Huberman AM. 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis: an Expanded Sourcebook, 2nd edn. Sage: London. Moisander J. 2007. Motivational complexity of green consumerism. International Journal of Consumer Studies 31(4): 404–409. DOI: 10.1111/ j.1470-6431.2007.00586.x Oates CJ, McDonald S, Alevizou P, Hwang K, Young W, McMorland LA. 2008. Marketing sustainability: use of information sources and degrees of voluntary simplicity. Journal of Marketing Communication 14(5): 351–365. Ottman JA, Stafford ER, Hartman CL. 2006. Avoiding green marketing myopia: ways to improve consumer appeal for environmentally preferable products. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 48(5): 22–36. DOI: 10.3200/ENVT.48.5.22-36 Peattie K. 1999. Trappings versus substance in the greening of marketing planning. Journal of Strategic Marketing 7(2): 131–148. Quelch JA, Harding D. 1996. Brands versus private labels: fighting to win. Harvard Business Review 74(1): 99–109. Reynolds TJ, Gutman J. 1988. Laddering theory, method, analysis, and interpretation. Journal of Advertising Research 28(1): 11–31. Sammer K, Wüstenhagen R. 2006. The influence of eco-labelling on consumer behaviour – results of a discrete choice analysis for washing machines. Business Strategy and the Environment 15: 185–199. DOI: 10.1002/bse.522 Sener A, Hazer O. 2008. Values and sustainable consumption behaviour of women: a Turkish sample. Sustainable Development 16(5): 291– 300. Shaw DS, Hogg G, Wilson E, Shiu E, Hassan L. 2006. Fashion victim: the impact of fair trade concerns on clothing choice. Journal of Strategic Marketing 14(4): 423–436. Sheth JN, Newman BI, Gross BL. 1991. Why we buy what we buy: a theory of consumption values. Journal of Business Research 22: 159–170. Sriram V, Forman AM. 1993. The relative importance of products’ environmental attributes: a cross-cultural comparison. International Marketing Review 10(3): 51–70. Stern N. 2006. Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. HM Treasury and Cabinet Office: London. http://www.sternreview.org.uk [25 October 07]. Sutcliffe M, Hooper P, Howell R. 2008. Can eco-footprinting analysis be used successfully to encourage more sustainable behaviour at the household level? Sustainable Development 16: 1–16. Thompson CJ, Arsel Z. 2004. The Starbuck brandscape and consumers (anticorporate) experiences of globalisation. Journal of Consumer Research 31: 631–642. Vantomme D, Geuens M, De Houwer J, de Pelsmacker P. 2005. Implicit attitudes toward green consumer behaviour. Psychologica Belgica 45(4): 217–239. Wheale P, Hinton D. 2007. Ethical consumers in search of markets. Business Strategy and the Environment 16: 302–315. DOI: 10.1002/ bse.484 Williams K, Dair C. 2007. A framework of sustainable behaviours that can be enabled through the design of neighbourhood-scale developments. Sustainable Development 15: 160–173. DOI: 10.1002/sd.311

Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Sust. Dev. 18, 20–31 (2010) DOI: 10.1002/sd

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Is Our Consumption Society Sustainable

...Is our consumption society sustainable? The concept of a sustainable society has been discussed for decades. Moreover, attention is paid to the direct effect that consumption has on this issue. Sustainability is defined through meeting consumer needs without compromising the needs of future generations (OECD, 2002). But it doesn’t bring in question what quantity of current needs is really necessary (Conca, Princen& Maniates, 2003). Many scientists regard consumption orientated society as the main culprit for the destruction of our planet. What is known until now is that consumption patterns had a large impact on the environment in the last 50 years. One of its consequences is global warming that altered our climate (Cahill, 2001). But the dreading consequence lies in the amount of waste with which these patterns burden our planet, through the process of production and even more after the death of the product. The products are made with a short life-cycle in mind, but in order for the golden arrow of consumption to be strong, consumers are convinced to throw away the product even before its expiration date. Making the product obsolete while it is still able to perform degrades the environment. However, there are also business oriented people who regard consumption as a driver for economy advancement. This paper will address the estimated consequences of these two views and try to analyze the milestones in attempt to identify the direction in which our consumption......

Words: 1985 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

Com 220 Final Paper / Consumerisms Effect

...Consumerisms Effect Consumerisms Effect Consumerism is defined as, “the theory that an increasing consumption to goods is economically desirable; also: a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods” (“Consumerism,” n.d.). With this said, is consumerism healthy for anyone who is involved? From American cultures birth after the revolutionary war, this society has relished the flattery of consumerism. The search for wealth, material goods, and happiness has no boundaries in this society. Although some positive influences exist within consumerisms definition, a darker side to this phenomenon cannot be over looked. Consumerism reflects many negative human attributes and its increase is adversely affecting American culture, societal equalities, and the environment. Consumerism, in all its forms, has been around since the earliest times of American culture. From the earliest time of America, directly after the Revolutionary War, this attitude of need and want for material good and what was considered the best was very evident. One would think that during a life altering divide of nations the concept of consumerism would stop between them, but during this time, Americans still sought British goods. A high perceived value and thought pattern that these goods were of superior quality allowed these items to become a status symbol for early Americans. George Washington, weeks after signing a peace treaty with Britain, ordered a......

Words: 2146 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

Synthesis

...Case 1 Colleen Case Dr. Stogner UCWR 110-046 9 November 2012 Excessive Consumerism Today Excessive consumerism is a growing problem in today's society. So many of our actions are driven by the desire to consume. Our whole lives revolve around getting the latest thing and working to no end to achieve it. Then, once we have the means of obtaining it, we spend even more time trying to decide which features we want or don't want. In this way, we find ourselves in a situation in which we serve the economy instead of it serving us. Colin Beavan and Robert Reich both offer their interpretation of the issue in relation to sustainability and freedom of choice, respectively. In No Impact Man, Beavan reveals the environmental issues associated with increased consumerism and attempts to find a way to counter the effects by discontinuing purchase of anything new. In Reich's "The Choice Fetish", he discusses how the sheer number of options available to us can limit our personal freedom because so much of our time is spent mulling over these insignificant choices. He uses the example of buying a computer, something many people do in their lifetime, and shows how incredibly overwhelming the process can be with all of the features to choose from in order to make the final product "personalized". In No Impact Man and "The Choice Fetish", Beavan and Reich show their readers the causes and effects of increased consumerism in a variety of areas. Because of these causes and......

Words: 1702 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Management

...| COLLABORATION PROGRAM WITH | PERAK COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY DEGREE IN MANAGEMENT (TECHNOLOGY) SUBJECT: ULAB3162 ENGLISH FOR PROFESSIONAL PURPOSES TOPIC: ANALYSIS OF MALAYSIA’S ECONOMIC CRISIS 2015 PREPARED BY: TUN MUHAMMAD FALIQ AIZAT 900711-08-6343 PREPARED FOR: MISS YASOTHA DATELINE: 7/12/2015 ANALYSIS OF MALAYSIA’S ECONOMIC CRISIS 2015 A Tough Year This year has seen changes across the entire spectrum of the Malaysian body politic and economy. Unlike in earlier years of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak’s six-and-a-half year tenure, Malaysia’s economy is now seen to be in trouble, with contracting growth, rising inflation, continued high levels of capital flight, declining consumer and investor confidence, and a depreciating currency. Malaysia faces an unfavourable global environment. The slowdown of the Chinese economy, Malaysia’s largest trade partner, has contributed to a sharp decline in Malaysia’s GDP growth. While the US economy has begun a recovery, it has not filled the vacuum as a driver of growth left by China’s slowdown. Four regional economies are seen to be under strain – Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The broad decline of Southeast Asian currencies to the US dollar and drops in exports has cast a pall over the region. Global drops in oil and gas prices (now at levels less than half of those prevailing a year ago) have had a special impact on Malaysia; Government revenues from petroleum had......

Words: 1781 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Ethics Paper - Consumerism

...Americans spent an average of $407.02 from the Thursday through Sunday that bookends Black Friday, as stated by the National Retail Federation. This topsy-turvy day recognized by a vast majority of American culture has been seen by many as the yearly peak of the country’s ever-increasing trend towards consumerism. Consumerism, the belief that goods give meaning to individuals and their roles in society, has presented itself to Americans in both a positive and negative spirit. On the one hand, consumer spending drives the economy, gives consumers a vast myriad of retailers to choose from, and renders shopping as a social experience. On the other hand, consumerism can render all aspects of life as merely a commodity, encourages excess consumption, and distorts our personal values. In this paper, I will explore these details in greater depth. After that point, I will assess said details and form my own opinion on whether consumerism as a whole is healthy or unhealthy for the average American shopper. Finally, I will...

Words: 3492 - Pages: 14

Premium Essay

Australian Grocery Stores Industry

...growww.businessmonitor.com Q4 2010 AUStrALiA food & drink report INCLUDES 5-YEAR FORECASTS TO 2014 iSSn 1749-2580 published by Business Monitor international Ltd. AUSTRALIA FOOD & DRINK REPORT Q4 2010 INCLUDING 5-YEAR INDUSTRY FORECASTS BY BMI Part of BMI’s Industry Report & Forecasts Series Published by: Business Monitor International Copy deadline: July 2010 Business Monitor International Mermaid House, 2 Puddle Dock, London, EC4V 3DS, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7248 0468 Fax: +44 (0) 20 7248 0467 Email: subs@businessmonitor.com Web: http://www.businessmonitor.com © 2010 Business Monitor International. All rights reserved. All information contained in this publication is copyrighted in the name of Business Monitor International, and as such no part of this publication may be reproduced, repackaged, redistributed, resold in whole or in any part, or used in any form or by any means graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by information storage or retrieval, or by any other means, without the express written consent of the publisher. DISCLAIMER All information contained in this publication has been researched and compiled from sources believed to be accurate and reliable at the time of publishing. However, in view of the natural scope for human and/or mechanical error, either at source or during production, Business Monitor International accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage resulting from errors...

Words: 34457 - Pages: 138

Premium Essay

Econometrics Project

...Sciences Prague Faculty of Economics and Management Department of Economics Project of Econometric Modelling © 2013 CULS in Prague I. One equation model: The following econometric model would like to analyze the impacts of consumption, interest rate and unemployment rate on Gross Domestic Product of China based on the data extracted from National Bureau of Statistics of China.(1992-2011 National Data in 1992-2011 ). 1. Economic model and econometric model 2.1. Assumption * Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depends on the following variables: * Private Consumption * Government spending * Total wage of employees * General model: GDP = f (Private Consumption, Government spending, Total wage of employees) * Dependency between variables based on economic theory: * Increase of private consumption will cause increase in GDP. * Increase of Government spending will cause increase in GDP. * Increase of Total wage will cause increase in GDP. 2.2. Economic and econometrics model * Declaration of variables Variable | Symbol | Unit | Gross Domestic Product | y1 | 100 million yuan | Unit vector | x1 | | Private Consumption | x2 | 100 million yuan | Government spending | x3 | 100 million yuan | Total wage of employees | x4 | 100 million yuan | Stochastic variable | u1t | | * Economic model: y1 = γ1+ γ2 x2 + γ3 x3 + γ4 x4 . Insert......

Words: 2069 - Pages: 9

Free Essay

Critique of Stuff Is Not Salvation

...Valued Possessions vs. Insignificant Desires Anna Quindlen, a novelist, social critic, and journalist wrote an intriguing essay “Stuff is Not Salvation” about the addiction of Americans, who splurge on materialistic items that have no real meaning. The ability to obtain credit is one of the main reasons to blame for society’s consumption epidemic. However, Quindlen feels the economic decline due to credit card debt is insignificant compared to the underlying issues of American’s binging problems. Quindlen’s essay gives excellent points regarding the differences in America’s typical shopping habits. Additionally, she mentions how people acquire all this “stuff” but seem to never realize, “why did I get this?”(501). Quindlen makes her audience visualize a world where we acquire our needs versus our meaningless desires. Yet, she fails to mention people who could live a life of happiness through the possessions they acquire. In summary, Quindlen supports her point of view with examples of American spending habits in the past decades of depression compared to now. She mentions Black Friday and how people become enthralled by cheap bargains (Quindlen 500-501). In Quindlen’s essay, she refers to an accident in which a worker at Walmart was trampled to death by a mob of shoppers and despite the horrific incident people kept shopping (500). With the U.S. depression, Black Friday brings hopes of more money spent, therefore a rise in the markets. The dream of an uplifted economy......

Words: 880 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Consumption and Public Spaces

...such as malls and shopping districts (Tyndall, 2009). This version of consumer-driven rules – culled from qualitative research and personal interviews – depicts a new notion of public-ness that is less egalitarian than ever before. It is a version of public space that is not entirely open to the public. Baker adds to this perspective by historicizing the commercialization of public space, dating the use widespread use of public space for advertising purposes to before the dawn of the 20th century (Baker, 2007). This argument inextricably links the notion of “culture” with “consumerism”, and sets the stage for the potential for access to public spaces to be consumed, or purchased. Finally, Klingle underscores this spatial history of consumption, placing the transaction of consumer power contexts as diverse as Thoreau’s Walden to the challenges environmentalists face in today’s high-powered, consumer-driven society (Klingle, 2003). Problem Statement However, a systematic and historical chronology of public spaces that conveys power relations borne out of consumerism has yet to be fully developed....

Words: 1702 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Is Consumerism Killing Our Creativity

...Is Consumerism Killing Our Creativity? by Jocelyn K. Glei Have you ever fallen into a black hole of comparison shopping? You’re looking for a new digital camera, for instance. You head over to Cnet.com and read some reviews of various cameras, watch the video demos, identify the model you want. Then perhaps you employ Google’s shopping search to price out the options and find the best deal. All of the sudden, it’s four hours later. You’ve found the perfect camera, but your purchasing triumph is tainted by a creeping feeling of, well, disgust. Couldn’t that time have been used better?I was thinking recently about what my biggest distractions were – the things keeping me from pushing my creative projects forward. As I scanned through my daily activities, I found that the most insidious distraction was, in fact, things. More specifically, the wanting, hunting, and getting of things –  whether they be tangible (a new computer) or intangible (information).   As Annie Leonard says in The Story of Stuff, “Our primary identity has become that of being consumers – not mothers, teachers, or farmers, but of consumers. We shop and shop and shop.” We love our stuff. Yet more than the stuff itself, we love the act of finding it – the search, the anticipation.   But why is consumerism – and particularly, an online hunt for the ideal purchase – so addictive?   It turns out that our consumerist impulse stimulates the same part of the brain that fires when we’re on the trail of a......

Words: 647 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Analysis of the Macroeconomic Environment Within the Health-Care

...This report discusses macroeconomic factors that impact both the automotive and health-care industries. Interest rates, consumer price index (CPI), consumer confidence, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), wage rates, and inventory levels impact the macroeconomic environment to influence these industries in the short run. Consumption as a percentage of the GDP depicted in table 1 indicates a continuous declined in consumer spending from 2005 through 2010 and suggests that consumers are becoming more conservative with disposable income spent on elective health-care products and procedures as-well-as new vehicle purchases. As the nominal interest rates indicate in table 2, the FED attempted to encourage consumer spending by decreasing the interest rates to encourage expansionistic economic activity, which would also be a positive influencing factor for both the health-care and automotive industries. The automobile industry is volatile by nature and heavily influence by macroeconomic factors, while the health-care industry enjoys an inelastic environment. Macroeconomic factors influence the health-care industry, it is unlikely essential health-care demand will decrease in the short term; however, elective health-care products and services will likely suffer as will new vehicle purchases as consumers remain conservative. The future is not as bleak as one might anticipate. The automotive industry is traditionally volatile and dependent upon the macroeconomic environment and currently......

Words: 274 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Management Info System

...moving all the terms with national income (Y) to the LHS, we have Y[ 1 - c(1-t) + m ] = c0 + I + G + X Denoting the RHS (the sum of the autonomous components) with the symbol A, we have Y = 1 / [1 - c (1-t) + m]* A which gives us the equilibrium level of national income, but can also be expressed as changes: ΔY = 1 / [1 - c (1-t) + m]* ΔA The expression { 1 / [1 - c (1-t) + m] } is the multiplier (K). Dividing both sides of the above equation by ΔA ECON 1002 Feb 2013 We have ΔY / ΔA = 1 / [1 - c (1-t) + m] which gives us our first formula for K. What about the second formula? What is z? It is the marginal propensity to spend out of national income, which include the propensity to consume and the propensity to import. As we saw above, consumption spending comes out of disposable income, and therefore, the propensity to consume out of national income is c(1-t). We also assumed that imports represent a leakage from the circular flow, therefore, – m represents the propensity to import. We therefore have z = [c(1-t) – m] Notice that the minus sign in front of z in the multiplier formula will change the sign of its two terms and gives us the exact expression of K we derived above. What is obvious from the multiplier? From this expression we derived for K, we see that when c increases, the multiplier will increase, and when t and m...

Words: 473 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Industrial Sector Surveys

...find more-than-adequate demand. M&A could inject some headline risk, and VW is still a wildcard that could cause a bout of spread weakness. We would see such volatility as presenting an opportunity, however, given the solid underpinnings of the Auto Sector storage. The positive side of the sector's story is its still strong credit quality even if the group did see some modest deterioration on that from increased M&A and pockets of end-market weakness. They're not bulletproof, however, and there are still a number of sources of potentially negative headline risk that we expect to be at play out in the coming year. Additionally, even if the economy does perform to consensus. we expect the expansion will be reliant upon the US domestic consumption story and it will be heavier going in the global arena in which the manufacturing conglomerates compete, particularly as regards to economic performance in emerging market countries (most notably China). That, along with the comparatively tight level of prevailing spreads, limits the possibility for outperformance and constrains us from taking a more constructive...

Words: 279 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

To What Extent Where the Government Policies Responsible for Britain’s Economic Recovery in the 1930’s?

...and low mortgage and interest rates. It is also necessary to include that the housing boom was only made possible by their allied industries such as plumbing, cement and electricity as without these products being readily available the houses could not have been built. As the housing industry boomed it made other industries more successful in trade as the consumption of electricity doubled in the 1930’s and by 1938 there were 9 million wireless sets in private homes and the demand for luxuries such as radios and cars also grew. This benefited the other industries and the working class as more jobs were readily available for them to earn a living and provide for their families. It is clear to see that the housing boom could be seen as being responsible for Britain’s economic recovery in the 1930’s as it gave jobs to the working class which increased consumerism as more and more people had money to buy consumer goods which helped the cycle of prosperity to continue on and helped the economy recover. Another contributing factor to the economic recovery of Britain was consumer spending. A.J.P Taylor stated that “increased consumption by individuals pulled England out of the slump”, meaning that Britain came out of the Depression by spending money and stimulating their own economy – creating a ‘consumer-led’ recovery. The lowered prices – caused by the Depression itself – allowed those...

Words: 663 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Consumerism

...Consumerism Term 3, Lecture 1 Now, consumerism is more widespread than before. Before- What you produce determines who you are and how people look at you Now- Consumption= what is consumed, when it is consumed and how much, determines who you are and how people look at you 2. The roots of consumerism Began towards the end of the 18th century Sugar, tea, coffee- consumerist products With these consumerist products, came the associated pieces (cups, coffee cups, saucers, coffee shops) Consumerism= caused by increased prosperity. As people earn more, they consume more. Social, political and economic revolutions changed people- from this comes consumerism Consumerism becomes feminized- focuses on what goes on in the homes. Which is a woman’s job After consumerism (18th century), women are seen as more beautiful. Before, men were seen more beautiful. Thus women buy more to make themselves more beautiful. Men started to go shopping, as a fun activity. This was not the case before consumerism came along. 3. The growth on consumerism Uneven geographically- consumerism more in urban areas than rural areas a) changes in retailing(shops) changes in retailing boosts consumerism = department stores advertisement boosts consumerism = first in America Peasant societies don’t produce consumerism Changes in media boosts consumerism= radio Kleptomania= compulsion to steal...

Words: 811 - Pages: 4