Impact of advertising on customers purchase interest in sustainable products


Term Paper, 2021

40 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Excerpt

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Appendices

1 Introduction

2 Conceptual background
2.1 Definition of green advertising
2.2 Definition of sustainable products
2.3 Self-regulation theory

3 Factors in advertising that influence consumer´s purchase interest in sustainable products
3.1 Advertising-related factors
3.2 Consumer-related factors

4 Discussion
4.1 Conclusion
4.2 Managerial implications
4.3 Limitations and future research

5 Executive summary

References

Appendix

List of Figures

Figure 1: How advertising works

Figure 2: Factors that influence purchase interest in sustainable products

List of Tables

Table 1: Literature Table on advertising-related factors that influence purchase interest in sustainable products

Table 2: Literature Table on consumer-related factors that influence purchase interest in sustainable products

List of Appendices

Appendix A: Literature Table

1 Introduction

Whether it's the reach of Fridays for Future, the scientific research community, the NGO "Green Peace" or Nobel laureate Al Gore, there are countless people and organizations presenting compelling and forceful arguments that our current level of natural resource consumption is unsustainable (Banbury, Stinerock, and Subrahmanyan, 2012, p.497). The consequences of our unsustainable and environmentally devastating lifestyle are global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean and river pollution, noise and light pollution, acid rain, and desertification (Ramlogan 1997). In industrialized countries, about 40% of environmental degradation is caused by the consumption activities of private households which led to an increased social and political pressure (Chen and Chai 2010, p. 28). As consumers are aware that their consumption has an impact on environmental problems, sustainable products are increasingly considered by consumers in their purchase decisions (Wei et. al 2017, p. 626). This great degree of attention for sustainable products is also related to the emergence of more sustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns that minimize environmental impact (Banbury, Stinerock, and Subrahmanyan 2012, p.497). In a global survey, 56% of respondents described themselves as "green" or someone that avoids environmentally harmful products and tries to live as economically as possible. Another 30% intended to adjust their behavior in the next 5 years to become “greener” (Gershoff and Frels 2015, p.97). The global market consumed about US $1.37 billion in green products and services in 2017, and the trend is rising rapidly (Lopes and Veiga 2019, p. 550). Due to the increased value consumers place on sustainability, companies are realizing the benefits of going green (Lu, Bock and Jospeh 2013, p. 3). Many companies are thus increasing their efforts to operate sustainably and offer environmentally friendly products (Smith and Brower 2012, p. 535). Although many consumers indicate that they are environmentally conscious, there appears to be an attitude-behavior gap (Young et al. 2010). Often these positive attitudes towards sustainability do not translate into sustainable actions in terms of purchasing sustainable products (Auger and Devinney 2007; Gatersleben, Steg and Vlek 2002; Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002). A study by the United Nations Environment Programme reports that only 4% of consumers actually buy sustainable products (Visser, Gattol and van der Helm 2015, p. 8421). While consumer demand for sustainable products seems to be increasing, there is still room to further promote and encourage sustainable consumer behavior (White, Habib and Hardisty 2019, p. 24). The market for sustainable products could be more widely exploited by marketers (Pickett-Baker and Ozaki 2008), allowing for higher sales volumes necessary to cover the potential additional costs of producing more sustainable and environmentally friendly products (Visser, Gattol and van der Helm 2015, p. 8421). Only 55% of European Union citizens feel adequately informed about the environmental impact of the products they use and buy (Gershoff and Frels 2015, p.97-98). Consumers are often unaware of the environmental benefits because companies do not communicate in a way that is consistent with the consumer's schema regarding environmental issues (Smith and Brower 2012, p. 535). Practical guidelines backed by quantitative research for a successful advertising of sustainable products are scarce, making effective advertising of sustainable products difficult (Visser, Gattol and van der Helm 2015, p. 8421). This often results in companies failing to communicate green messages effectively (Smith and Brower 2012, p. 548). Companies need to identify the determinants of green purchase behavior and understand how to deliver effective and compelling advertisements (Tan 2011, p.14). This paper addresses the research question of how advertising influences consumers' purchase interest in sustainable products. I contribute to literature by building a framework based on prior research which consists of advertising- and consumer-related factors. By building this framework, I provide a novel perspective of the influencing factors that need to be considered in order to successfully advertise sustainable products. I also derive managerial implications how this framework can be applied. The paper is structured as follows. After the introduction, I define relevant terms that are important for the conceptual background of the paper. In the third chapter, I provide an overview of the existing literature on advertising sustainable products and the impact on purchase interest. Finally, I conclude with the discussion and derive implications for the management on how to make use of the framework. I also discuss potential limitations and directions for future research.

2 Conceptual background

2.1 Definition of green advertising

To understand the concept of green advertising, it is first necessary to define advertising in general. Richards and Curran (2002, p.74) define advertising as “a paid, mediated form of communication from an identifiable source, designed to persuade the receiver to take some action, now or in the future.” Advertising is usually carried out through media channels. Traditional media channels include catalogs, television, direct mail, radio, print campaigns, newspapers or magazines. New media channels consist of online advertisements, social media, search engines or e-mailing (Danaher and Dagger 2013, p.521). To understand how advertising works, Vakratsas and Ambler (1999) created a framework that illustrates how consumers move from initial contact with advertising to final product consumption (see figure 1).

Figure 1: How advertising works

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Vakratsas and Ambler (1999, p. 26.)

According to them, advertising is presented as an input to the consumer (here and in the following Vakratsas and Ambler 1999, p.26-27). Media scheduling, message content, and repetition are components of this input. Consumers' responses to advertising are mediated by filters such as motivation, ability to process information (involvement) and attitudes towards the advertising. Consciously or unconsciously, advertising must have a mental effect (e.g., awareness, memory, attitude toward the brand) before it can influence behavior. Cognition is the "thinking" dimension of a person's response, and affect is the "feeling" dimension, presented as two important intermediate effects of advertising. For most products, consumers already possess conscious and unconscious memories of buying and using the product. Thus, behavior is attributed to experience, which is the third important intermediate effect. Individual purchase and product usage behavior (consumer behavior), represents the consequential behavioral effects of advertising in the model.

Different strategies of advertising communication are applied to motivate and persuade consumers. Those strategies typified by Aaker et. al. (1986) can be divided into informational, positive emotional, and negative emotional strategies (Lopes and Veiga 2019, p. 551). Informational messages inform the consumer about the key benefits of the advertised product, while emotional appeals aim to evoke feelings or emotions in the consumer. Positive emotional appeals are intended to generate interest in the advertising, reduce irritation and lead to positive judgments about the advertised message. Negative emotional appeal in advertising is often used to capture attention and create persuasion based on the advertising message (Lopes and Veiga 2019, p. 555).

Green advertising is a special form of advertising and refers to promotional messages that inform consumers about the environmental aspects of products or services (Han et. al. 2019, p.353). According to Banerjee, Gulas and Iyer (1995, p.22), green advertising explicitly or implicitly addresses the positive relationship between a product or service and the environment, promotes a green lifestyle or presents a corporate image of environmental responsibility. The objective is to sell products that are environmentally harmless, while actively encouraging consumers to support and protect the environment (Govender 2016, p.78). Advertising green products and services requires different strategies than advertising non-green products and services (Groening, Sarkis and Zhu 2018, p.1848). In contrast to conventional advertising, green advertising faces the challenge of marketing green products or services and at the same time convincing consumers to consider numerous other stakeholders and intangible issues (e.g. the future) while paying more for goods and services whose origin and efficiency cannot always be verified (Groening, Sarkis and Zhu 2018, p.1849). There are two types of messages that marketers commonly use to promote sustainable products: those that provide individual self-benefits to consumers (i.e., highlighting their own benefits) and those that provide societal other benefits (i.e., highlighting benefits to others or to the environment as a collective good) (Green and Peloza 2014, p. 128). When green advertising is not presented with concrete claims, important information is omitted or even false statements are provided, green advertising is quickly identified as green washing (Leonidou et. al. 2011, p.8). Green washing is defined as the provision of misinformation that is disseminated to create an environmentally friendly image to the public (Visser, Gattol and van der Helm 2015, p.8422). Green washing also occurs when the information is superficial and has only little ecological impact or relevance (Smith and Brower 2012, p. 540).

2.2 Definition of sustainable products

Generally, a sustainable product, often referred to as “green product”, is an ecological and environmentally friendly product (Chen and Chai 2010, p.29). Diglel and Yazdanifard (2014, p.11-12) define a product as green if it is produced in an environmentally conscious manner and has minimal negative impact on the environment. A sustainable product is often made of recycled materials, conserves natural resources, and is manufactured locally (Diglel and Yazdanifard 2014, p.11-12). Ottman and Stafford (2006, p.27) name efficiency, cost effectiveness, health, safety, symbolism and status as typical benefits of sustainable products.

2.3 Self-regulation theory

Relevant for the conceptual background is also the self-regulation theory, as it determines consumers' motivation and influences how they process information (Codini, Miniero and Bonera 2018, p. 18). The literature suggests that the self-regulation theory (or self-regulatory focus) is an emotional cognitive phenomenon that explains the relationship between motivation, self-regulation, and goal accomplishment (Higgins 1997). A clear distinction can be made between a self-regulatory focus that is primarily on either "promotion" or "prevention" (Higgins 1997; Higgins 1998). During the process of gathering information and evaluating alternatives, individuals with a promotion focus may respond more positively to options that signal positive aspects of them, while individuals with a prevention focus may be more easily persuaded by options that reinforce negative aspects (Lopes and Veiga 2019, p.553). A promotion-orientation implies a focus on positive outcomes (Lopes and Veiga 2019, p.553). For promotion-oriented individuals, positive emotions and excitement are perceived as beneficial, while negative emotions are perceived to be non-beneficial (Molden et al. 2008). A focus on prevention implies attention to negative outcomes (Lopes and Veiga 2019, p.553). Prevention-oriented individuals usually focus on safety and responsibility by following guidelines and rules or applying an avoidance strategy (Codini, Miniero and Bonera 2018, p.4).

3 Factors in advertising that influence consumer´s purchase interest in sustainable products

As mentioned in the introduction, it is necessary for companies to know and apply the key success factors for effective advertising sustainable products. This paper reviews existing literature and puts the results into a framework. Building on Vakratsas and Ambler's framework (1999), the compiled framework (see figure 2, p.7.) is divided into two categories. There is a distinction between advertising-related factors and consumer-related factors. The advertising-related factors refer to the advertising generated by the company, and the consumer-related factors depend on the recipient of the advertising. If both the advertising-related factors are selected properly and the consumer-related factors ensure that the advertising is processed in a supportive manner, then this leads to the intended consumer behavior of higher purchase interest in sustainable products. Overall, it can be noted that there is a considerable amount of literature available for both advertising-related factors and consumer-related factors. However, the scope of literature differs depending on the area. In the area of communication appeals and self-regulatory types, the scope of literature is rather limited compared to the other areas (see literature table, p.26-33). In the following, the individual factors of advertising that influence purchase interest in sustainable products will be explained.

Figure 2: Factors that influence purchase interest in sustainable products

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Author’s own illustration.

3.1 Advertising-related factors

Advertising authenticity. First of all, it is of high importance to make the advertising authentic and credible. Message credibility is a key driver of green advertising effectiveness and has a strong influence on consumers’ purchase intentions (Jäger and Weber 2020). To have an authentic effect, the advertisement should provide rich and detailed information (Andrews, Netemeyer and Burton 1998; Cho 2014; Jäger and Weber 2020; Darley and Smith 1993). To be persuasive, green advertising claims should be specific and meaningful (Davis 1993). Making sustainability claims without adequate supporting information has limited impact on consumers when it comes to purchase intentions (Cho 2014). In addition to detailed advertising claims, eco-labels are a powerful way to convey information about a product's sustainable attributes (Parguel, Benoît-Moreau and Larceneux 2011). Lee, Bae and Kim (2020) found that purchase intention for sustainable products is significantly higher when a sustainable label is present. To provide consumers with better information about environmental performance, labels should be eye-catching, easy to understand, and consistent across categories (Taufique, Vocino and Polonsky 2017; Thøgersen 2000). Eco-labels might appear more transparent if they are certified by a third party that provides validation of the sustainability claims (Testa et. al. 2015; Atkinson and Rosenthal 2014). To establish credibility, it is also important to enable the consumer to trace the label to find more detailed information about the product and its origin (Lee, Bae and Kim 2020). However, it is noteworthy that there are also studies that suggest that eco-labels do not play a strong role in predicting consumers' food choices (Grunert, Hieke and Wills 2014).

Advertising message. Advertising message refers to the essential content of an advertising. Just as with conventional products, consumers only opt for sustainable products if they offer consumers more benefits than costs and if the benefit-cost difference is higher compared to other products (Meyer 2001, p.319). As explained in chapter 2.1, a distinction can be made between communicating individual self (personal) vs. societal (environmental) benefits. Several research studies have found that green consumption is most likely to occur when the focus of green product advertising lies on societal (environmental) benefits (Yang et. al. 2015; Jäger and Weber 2020; Kareklas, Carlson and Muehling 2014; Schuhwerk and Lefkoff-Haguis 1995). However, some researchers claim that highlighting self-benefits is more effective under certain circumstances (Yadav 2016; Visser, Gattol and van der Helm 2015). Which message is more effective depends to a certain degree on the type of product. If the consumption setting of the product is private and there are no status motives associated with it, then communicating self (personal) benefits can be beneficial, whereas for products that are consumed in public and have status motives associated with them, highlighting the societal (environmental) benefits is more effective (Green and Peloza 2014; Griskevicius, Tybur and Bergh 2010). It is necessary not only to address sustainability aspects of the product in advertising, but also to focus explicitly on product strength and the performance of a sustainable product (Luchs et. al. 2010). When communicating the performance advantages of sustainable products, it has a greater impact if these are expressed over a longer period of time, e.g., communicating cost savings over the average product lifetime rather than annual cost savings (Kallbekken, Sælen and Hermansen 2013; Camilleri and Larrick 2014). Besides highlighting the product performance, it is also necessary to promote the image and value of green products (Wu et. al. 2015). Highlight the features of green products, create a positive environmental image and communicate the environmental value to customers is essential for the success of a green advertisement (Liao, Wu and Pham 2020).

Communication appeal. The communication appeal refers to how consumers are approached. As described in chapter 2.1, a distinction in the communication appeal can be made between an informational vs. emotional approach. According to Lopes and Veiga (2019), the purchase intention for sustainable products is higher by using a positive emotional appeal than an informative appeal. This is in line with Corral-Verdugo et. al. (2009) who revealed that consumers are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviors if they associate some hedonic pleasure or positive emotions with it. Wang, Mukhopadhyay and Patrick (2017) indicated that sustainable actions become more likely when emotional "cute" appeals are used in communication (e.g. communication with cute animals or children). Evoking strong negative emotions should be avoided, as these often lead to rejection and denial (Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002; O’Neill and Nicholson-Cole 2009).

Media utilization. Media utilization refers to how the advertising message is visually designed and how it is delivered to the consumer. Pertaining the media design, Visser, Gattol and van der Helm (2015) experimentally observed that products advertised with a green layout were perceived as more sustainable than products with a red layout and that purchase intention for sustainable products was higher with a green layout. When selecting appropriate media channels, television commercials work well for product demonstrations, whereas print advertisements can be used to convey more detailed information (A-Qader and Zainuddin 2011, p.242). In the literature, there are recommendations to use print more than audiovisual media when advertising sustainable products as this medium makes it easier to convey concrete and well-founded product information in a credible manner (Do Paço and Reis 2012, p.153; Chan 2004). Social media also has a positive influence on consumers' green decision-making behavior and can be used as an effective channel for green advertising (Biswas 2016; Pop, Sablacan and Alt 2020; Byrum 2017; Zhao, Lee and Copeland 2019). Social media is particularly effective for targeting younger audiences (Smith and Brower 2012, p.539). Byrum (2017) stated that social media is also well suitable for involving consumers as co-creators in the advertising of sustainable products. User-generated content and word-of-mouth can be an effective way to spread green communications, as it is often seen as more credible than traditional advertising (Smith and Brower 2012, p.540). Another requirement to increase the purchase intention for sustainable products through advertising is the repetition of a message and its consistency over time (A-Qader and Zainuddin 2011). If penetration is strong enough, then media has the potential to draw consumer attention to environmental concerns, create environmental awareness, and increase demand for environmentally friendly products (Chen, Chen and Tung 2018; Wray and Jupka 2005; Jan, Ji and Yeo 2019; Joshi and Rahman 2016).

3.2 Consumer-related factors

Environmental involvement. When it comes to consumer-related factors, the first influencing factor is environmental involvement. Zaichkowsky (1985, p.342) defined involvement as “a person's perceived relevance of the object based on inherent needs, values, and interests.” Consumers that indicate a high environmental awareness and are concerned about environmental issues are most likely to buy sustainable products (Chen and Chai 2010; Wei et. al 2017; Mainieri et. al. 1997). Green advertising will best reach those who already practice green behaviors and indicate a high environmental involvement (Tucker et. al. 2012; Haytko and Matulich 2008).

Attitude towards green ads. The attitude towards green advertisements is depending on consumers’ green advertising skepticism and green trust. Green advertising skepticism is defined as a negative consumer reaction to misleading or exaggerated green advertising and its claims (Wei et. al. 2017, p. 629) and leads consumers to develop distrust and rejection of the advertising and the products (Manuel, Youn and Yoon 2014; Mohr, Eroglu and Ellen 1998). Consumers become skeptical especially when they notice a discrepancy between green advertising and company performance in terms of sustainability (Nyilasy, Gangadharbatla and Paladino 2013; Chen and Chang 2012 a). Consumers' skepticism of green advertising is negatively related to their attitudes toward green products (Chang 2011; Spangenberg 2013). Consequently, a high level of green advertising skepticism leads to lower purchase intention for the advertised products (Leonidou and Skarmeas 2017; Spangenberg 2013). To prevent green advertising skepticism, green trust is of immense importance as it has a significant positive impact on consumer attitudes towards green products (Wei et. al. 2017). Green trust is defined as the willingness to rely on a product, service or brand based on the belief or expectation arising from the credibility, goodwill and capability of the company regarding its environmental performance (Chen 2009, p.309). Green trust on the consumer side increases purchase intention (Chen and Chang 2012 b; Konuk 2017).

Demographics. Demographic factors also play a role when it comes to receptivity to green advertising and the purchase intention of sustainable products. According to literature, women attach more importance to environmental protection than men (Dietz, Kalof and Stern 2002; Gilg, Barr and Ford 2005). Women also seem to indicate a higher purchase intention for sustainable products (Smith and Brower 2012; Do Paço and Reis 2012; Mainieri et. al. 1997). Besides gender, age appears to have an influence on the attitude of individuals towards green products and advertising. Studies have found that younger people are most environmentally conscious (Vermillion and Peart 2010) and are more likely to engage in environmentally friendly behaviors (Semenza et al. 2008). In general, those with a greater focus on the future (i.e. mostly young people who still have their lives ahead of them) exhibit more environmentally friendly behaviors (Arnocky, Milfont and Nicol 2014; Joireman, Van Lange and Van Vugt 2004). Younger consumers can also influence the purchases of their peers or family and, consequently, have an impact on the green purchasing behavior of adults (Lee 2011). Finally, studies also provide evidence that highly educated people are more likely to be environmentally conscious than less educated people (Gilg, Barr and Ford 2005; Semenza et al. 2008; Spehar 2006). Gilg, Barr and Ford (2005) also stated that having a higher income contributes to individuals being more inclined to purchase sustainable products.

Self-regulatory type. Finally, the type of self-regulation focus (promotion vs. prevention) can have an impact on green consumption and the effectiveness of green advertising campaigns. Miniero et. al. (2014) revealed that prevention-oriented individuals indicate a higher compliance with green behaviors. Prevention-oriented consumers generally seem to be more receptive to green advertising than promotion-oriented consumers (Ku et. al. 2012; Lopes and Veiga 2019). However, Kareklas, Carlson and Muehling (2012) found that green advertising can appeal to both types. They concluded that a message suggesting striving for improvement is more persuasive to individuals with a promotion focus, while emphasizing on loss prevention is more persuasive to individuals with a prevention focus.

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Title
Impact of advertising on customers purchase interest in sustainable products
College
University of Münster
Grade
1,3
Author
Year
2021
Pages
40
Catalog Number
V1010514
ISBN (eBook)
9783346400239
ISBN (Book)
9783346400246
Language
English
Tags
impact
Quote paper
Jonathan Scholz (Author), 2021, Impact of advertising on customers purchase interest in sustainable products, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1010514

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