Effect of Green Consumerism on Consumer Behaviour

ABSTRACT

Since the onset of the industrial revolution, the era of mass production began. Prices got cheaper and demand, ever increasing. People started buying things which they wouldn’t have earlier and thus a lot of them even started exploiting and wasting the resources. Most of us didn’t realise that some of the products we use harm the environment by their usage or in their manufacturing process. This was only realised in the second half of the twentieth century when the consequences of the harm done started showing in the form of various environmental problems such as environmental pollution, global warming, ozone layer depletion etc.
When people saw the consequences of their overusing and misusing the resources, they realised their mistake and sought to correct it. A lot of manufacturers improvised the techniques of manufacturing to make it more eco-friendly even if it increased the production budget and a lot of consumers started buying things which are perceived to not harm the environment or harm it by a lesser degree than its other alternatives even if it meant paying a bit extra for it.
This marked the beginning of the era of green consumerism wherein people weigh the impact a particular product or service has on the environment before buying it and are influenced by it. The dilemma between eco-friendly and cheap is one of the most common dilemmas faced by a rational consumer in the 21st century.



INTRODUCTION

The study of how a consumer which may include an individual, a group of people and an organisation behaves in a market in buying various goods, services and merchandise to meet their needs is referred to as consumer behaviour. It is a multi-disciplinary field of study including economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, marketing etc. Consumer behaviour shows how various factors such as preferences, moods, and attitudes affect a consumers purchasing behaviour. It also studies how various groups like peer group, family and the society in general affect a consumer’s choice in a market.
Consumerism is an ideology in capitalism which says promotes heavy purchase of items meanwhile protecting the interests of the consumers. It has become a widely used term since the industrial revolution.
When the word ‘green’ is attached to the word ‘consumer’, it takes a completely different turn. Green Consumerism is a state in which the consumers have a tendency to prefer buying products which are considered eco-friendly when compared with its alternatives. Green consumerism promotes the manufacturing, marketing, and growth of the utilization or use of goods and services based on their pro-environment benefits.
With the increase in green consumerism, many manufacturers started to alter their manufacturing process to make it more eco-friendly so as to sound credible to the consumers and to appeal to them that their product is safe towards the environment. This new phenomenon of marketing and advertising of products and services to make them sound eco-friendly is known as Green Marketing.
Green Marketing is marketing of products that are considered to be safe for the environment. A wide range of activities are covered under green marketing, such as modification of the product, amending the production process and packaging, as well as modifying advertising or removing any activity that impacts the environment in negative way.



LITERATURE REVIEW

Green or eco-friendly products are products which are recyclable, reusable and somehow reduce the negative effects on environment. A variety of study supports the assertion that consumers today prefer environmentally safe products and have a positive disposition towards companies following such practices. A strong willingness is shown by consumers to favour environmentally conscious products and companies as per various opinion polls taken in US and elsewhere, however action to do so in reality are debatable.
Green Consumerism can be defined as the preferential consumption of products which are considered safe for the environment when compared to its alternatives. Consumers who consider how their consumption pattern affects the environment and are willing to change their purchasing behaviour according to it can be regarded as green consumers.
Yiridoe at el. (2005), in his research showed that the demand of eco-friendly products is rising day by day and that there is a concern in understanding as to what are the characteristics of a green product.
Green Marketing is marketing of products that are considered to be safe for the environment. A wide range of activities are covered under green marketing, such as modification of the product, amending the production process and packaging, as well as modifying advertising or removing any activity that impacts the environment in negative way.
This notion of green marketing implores on organisation to adopt more ethical and credible policies to make themselves more friendly to the environment. This has led to the formation of a concept called ‘Green Companies’.
Green Companies is any organisation that claims to run in a manner so as to minimize its effects on the environment. These companies are sensitive towards environmental problems faced by earth in the 21st Century such as global warming, environmental pollution, ozone layer depletion, climate change etc. and seek to take actions that help better the situation.
In simple terms any product which is devised and manufactured in way that the environmental degradation caused in its manufacturing, marketing as well as consumption is minimised. This can be done by choosing raw materials which are environment friendly, i.e., biodegradable or recyclable.
Some of the common characteristics of a green product are:-

  1. Reusable
  2. Recyclable
  3. Energy Efficient
  4. Long Lasting
  5. Produced Locally
  6. Biodegradable

STUDY OBJECTIVE

To determine whether an average rational consumer is influenced by green consumerism while purchasing, i.e., does he/she/they factor in the environmental effect caused by their consumption of a particular product.

METHODOLOGY

A survey was conducted wherein 100 consumers were presented with a questionnaire where they were provided with statements and they had to select the degree to which they agree to the statement. This degree was measured in a Likert Scale, where 1 meant that they strongly disagreed with the statement and 5 meant they strongly agreed with the statement. 3 being in the middle meant that they had a neutral opinion on the situation.
After collection of this data, the mean and standard deviation of each and every statement was calculated. An overall sample mean and standard deviation of green awareness was also calculated from which the overall population green awareness value was calculated.
Since 3 is the middle value, if the mean value comes to be above 3, then the overall tendency of the population is considered to be inclined towards green consumerism, i.e, it will be considered that in general a rational consumer does get influenced by the environmental consequences of the product before purchasing it.


FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

The findings of the survey have been summarised in the table below:

  1. It is important for me that the products I use do not harm the environment 4.43 0.69
  2. I am concerned about wasting the resources of our planet. 4.17 1.108
  3. I would describe myself as environmentally responsible. 3.85 0.871
  4. I consider the potential environmental impact of my actions when making many of my decisions. 3.77 0.772
  5. I am willing to be inconvenienced in order to take actions that are more environmentally friendly. 3.70 1.057
  6. My purchase habits are affected by my concern for our environment. 3.43 1.005
  7. Overall Green Value 3.887 0.608

The first statement studies whether or not the consumers are aware that the products they use affect the environment or not. This produced the highest average out of all other statements lying at 4.43, indicating high level of awareness.\n
The second statement measures the concern people have towards the environment. With the average score of 4.17, this too shows a high level of concern.
The third statement checks whether people work towards or take actions for the betterment of the environment. The mean score pertaining to this statement was 3.85.
The fourth statement measures whether an average person takes into account the environmental impacts of their actions while making a decision. The average score of this agreement to this statement is 3.77.
The fifth statement asks whether the consumers are willing to go out of their way to do things that might cause inconvenience to them but are good for the environment. The average for this statement is 3.7.
The sixth statement directly asks the consumers whether they take into account the environment while making purchasing decisions. The average score for this is 3.43 which being above 3 is still a positive outcome.
The overall green value was calculated by taking the average of the mean scores of all the six statements. It came out to be 3.887 which being above 3 shows overall positive behaviour in the consumers.
Each question, in their crux presented the same statement, however the subtlety of asking decreased with each statement and they got more direct to purchasing. The mean value too started dropping after each successive statement. However, even after successively reducing it continued to remain above 3, the middle point of the Likert scale, ensuring an overall positive response to the statements.

 

CONCLUSION

Responses to the survey are show a moderate level of positive replies showing that the consumers generally are aware of their duty to the environment and are thus understand the importance of green products and practices in the market.
The mean value of the overall green value came out to 3.887. As this value is above the middle point of the Likert scale, which is 3, it can be said that the general tendency in the people is to be abide by green consumerism.
Thus it can be said that the environmental effects of the products does indeed affect the decision making of the consumers and alters their purchasing behaviour.
This provides further scope of study into the fields of green marketing and green production which allows the producers to sell the products to the consumers on the ground that their product is safe for the environment and build credibility for their brand.

 

LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

This study has focussed on the general awareness of the people towards environment and green consumerism and has in no way checked their knowledge in identifying them or whether or not they follow those practices. Furthermore, there is no comparison between price and the fact that the product is environment friendly as many a times people don’t buy green products even after knowing that it is safe for the environment compared to its substitutes on the account that it is a bit more expensive.


REFERENCES

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  2. Rahman H. (2018), Green Consummerism, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Avaialable from: www.researchgate.net/publication/327416046_Green_Consumerism
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