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Special Issue "Sustainable Consumer Behavior"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2017)

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gerrit Antonides

Sub-department of Economics, Social Sciences, Wageningen University, 6706 KN Wageningen, the Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: consumer behaviour; behavioural economics; economic psychology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability may be achieved through many different agents and institutions in society, including governments, new technologies, industries, and markets. In addition to these agents, consumers and households play a crucial role in the adoption of sustainable products and technologies. Additionally, households are responsible for substantial proportions of energy use and waste. In the European Union, the end use of total energy by households was about 25% in 2014 (Eurostat, 2016). Additionally, households generated 8% of total waste in the EU in 2012 (Eurostat, 2015). Moreover, ethical aspects of consumption are becoming more and more important. In order to gain understanding of sustainable consumer and household behavior, Sustainability will devote an entire Special Issue to this topic.

In addition to the topics indicated by the keywords below, we welcome any other topics that may be suited to this Special Issue. We welcome varied methodologies and analytical techniques including experiments, surveys, qualitative analyses, or quantitative modeling. We also encourage theoretical papers, including literature reviews that offer strong theoretical frameworks for future research programs.

Prof. Dr. Gerrit Antonides
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • consumer and household decision making
  • consumer environmental norms, values, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions
  • reduced consumption 
  • collaborative consumption, sharing economy
  • reusing, recycling, waste separation
  • ethical consumption 
  • fair trade 
  • nudging strategies to drive sustainable consumption
  • sustainable consumption dilemmas
  • consumer as a citizen 
  • consumer energy saving
  • sustainable food consumption

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Sustainable Consumer Behaviour: A Collection of Empirical Studies
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1686; doi:10.3390/su9101686
Received: 18 September 2017 / Revised: 19 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
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Abstract
We summarise the contributions in this special issue on sustainable consumer behaviour and place them in perspective. Several studies focus on macro- and meso-issues, and others on micro-issues of consumer behaviour. The studies employ a variety of methods, including surveys, field experiments, eye
[...] Read more.
We summarise the contributions in this special issue on sustainable consumer behaviour and place them in perspective. Several studies focus on macro- and meso-issues, and others on micro-issues of consumer behaviour. The studies employ a variety of methods, including surveys, field experiments, eye tracking, scale development, and contingent valuation. The 12 contributions from authors of 13 different countries show the wide and varied application of consumer research focused on sustainability issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Does Nationality Matter in Eco-Behaviour?
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1694; doi:10.3390/su9101694
Received: 15 July 2017 / Revised: 2 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
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Abstract
Although many authors agree on the role of personal values in explaining the main determinants of eco-behaviour, disagreement about the effects of socio-demographic features exists, particularly about the effect of nationality. In an attempt to fill this gap in the literature, this paper
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Although many authors agree on the role of personal values in explaining the main determinants of eco-behaviour, disagreement about the effects of socio-demographic features exists, particularly about the effect of nationality. In an attempt to fill this gap in the literature, this paper contributes to the debate surrounding the main determinants of eco-behaviour, based on a cross-country analysis. To test the role of nationality and personal values in eco-behaviour, a linear regression model involving 353 Chinese and 333 Italian subjects was performed. A stepwise analysis was then conducted to identify the main significant effects. The explorative and stepwise analyses confirmed that nationality is significant when explaining individual eco-behaviour, for both Italian and Chinese people. Moreover, the linear regression model, as a stepwise analysis, showed that regulatory focus and universalism are the main personal values influencing ecological behaviour. Differences emerging from the analysis show significant differences in terms of eco-behaviour and eco-awareness, for the two countries involved in the analysis, that might lead companies to adopt different marketing strategies when promoting eco-products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Fostering Sustainable Travel Behavior: Role of Sustainability Labels and Goal-Directed Behavior Regarding Touristic Services
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 1056; doi:10.3390/su9061056
Received: 13 February 2017 / Revised: 13 June 2017 / Accepted: 13 June 2017 / Published: 18 June 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (647 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Individuals around the globe engage in sustainable consumption in their everyday life, e.g., when it comes to individual transportation. Although tourism behavior contributes to global carbon emissions to a considerable extent, consumers’ awareness of sustainability in the tourism industry is still underresearched. Placing
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Individuals around the globe engage in sustainable consumption in their everyday life, e.g., when it comes to individual transportation. Although tourism behavior contributes to global carbon emissions to a considerable extent, consumers’ awareness of sustainability in the tourism industry is still underresearched. Placing eco-labels next to tourist offers on websites might direct consumer’s perception towards more sustainable offers. By employing eye-tracking techniques and surveys, this research aimed at linking information about sustainable tourist offers, perception of eco-labels and subsequent perception and preferences of tourism services. In Study 1, eight existing hotel offers with sustainability certification (four different labels) were selected and their websites presented to 48 participants (four websites each), whose eye movements were tracked. After looking at each website, they rated the overall appearance of the website. Based on the results, in the second study, participants’ (n = 642) awareness of labels, their values and attitudes regarding sustainable behavior were found to influence their preference for certified tour operators. In addition, individuals’ ideas of their perfect holidays were captured to allow a better understanding of their motivation. This research proposes implementing appropriate sustainable labeling in the tourism industry to increase awareness about sustainability among travelers and subsequently increase sustainable travel behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Consumption Dilemmas
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 942; doi:10.3390/su9060942
Received: 30 January 2017 / Revised: 21 May 2017 / Accepted: 25 May 2017 / Published: 3 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (576 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
To examine which considerations play a role when individuals make decisions to purchase sustainable product varieties or not, we have conducted a large scale field experiment with more than 600 participating households. Households can vote on whether the budgets they receive should only
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To examine which considerations play a role when individuals make decisions to purchase sustainable product varieties or not, we have conducted a large scale field experiment with more than 600 participating households. Households can vote on whether the budgets they receive should only be spent on purchasing the sustainable product variety, or whether every household in a group is free to spend their budget on any product variety. By conducting several treatments, we tested whether people tend to view sustainable consumption as a social dilemma or as a moral dilemma. We find little support for the hypothesis that social dilemma considerations are the key drivers of sustainable consumption behaviour. Participants seem to be caught in a moral dilemma in which they not only weigh their individual financial costs with the sustainable benefits but they also consider the consequences of restricting other people’s freedom of choice. Complementary survey results further substantiate this claim and show that many people are reluctant to impose restrictions on their peers, but, at the same time, our results also suggest substantial support for the government to regulate the availability of unsustainable product varieties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Consumers’ Willingness to Pay a Premium for Eco-Labeled LED TVs in Korea: A Contingent Valuation Study
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 814; doi:10.3390/su9050814
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 26 April 2017 / Accepted: 4 May 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (240 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Although the production costs and prices of eco-labeled products are higher than those of conventional ones, the use of greener products can lead to better environmental outcomes. Thus, the consumers’ preferences for eco-labeled products should be investigated to understand the potential of markets
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Although the production costs and prices of eco-labeled products are higher than those of conventional ones, the use of greener products can lead to better environmental outcomes. Thus, the consumers’ preferences for eco-labeled products should be investigated to understand the potential of markets with green products. This study attempts to examine the consumers’ preference or willingness to pay (WTP) a premium for eco-labeled products using a specific case study of a 43-inch LED TV, which is a common home appliance in Korea. For this purpose, a contingent valuation survey of 1000 Korean consumers was conducted in June 2016. We used a one-and-one-half-bounded dichotomous choice question to derive the additional WTP responses and a spike model to analyze zero additional WTP responses. The mean additional WTP a premium for the eco-labeled 43-inch LED TV is estimated to be KRW 29,007 (USD 24.8), which is statistically meaningful at the 1% level. This value amounts to 3.9% of the price of a conventional 43-inch LED TV (KRW 750,000 or USD 640.5) and can be interpreted as the external benefit of an eco-labeled LED TV. We can conclude that Korean consumers are ready to pay a significant premium for eco-labeled LED TVs. Moreover, we examined the consumer’s characteristics that affect the probability that the person will be willing to pay a premium for an eco-labeled LED TV and found that it would be effective to set high-income, older, highly-educated, and female consumers with children as marketing targets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle An Environmental Perspective on Clothing Consumption: Consumer Segments and Their Behavioral Patterns
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 762; doi:10.3390/su9050762
Received: 15 February 2017 / Revised: 26 April 2017 / Accepted: 2 May 2017 / Published: 6 May 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (3639 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Efforts to decrease the environmental impact of today’s clothing industry across the entire process of production, purchase, maintenance, and disposal can be driven by either suppliers or consumers. Changing the behavior of the latter, however, requires an understanding of current clothing consumption patterns—a
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Efforts to decrease the environmental impact of today’s clothing industry across the entire process of production, purchase, maintenance, and disposal can be driven by either suppliers or consumers. Changing the behavior of the latter, however, requires an understanding of current clothing consumption patterns—a currently under-researched area. We therefore shed more light on these patterns in the purchase, use and maintenance, and discard phases by analyzing unique data on 4617 adult consumers (aged 18–65) from Germany, Poland, Sweden, and the U.S., who we divide into five segments based on clothing consumption behavior. At the low end of the spectrum is a consumer segment that earns the least, consumes mostly budget brand clothing, and is the least open to alternative more environmentally friendly business models such as fashion leasing or clothing libraries. At the other extreme lies a small segment that earns the most, engages in high consumption of medium or premium brand clothing, and is most open to alternative business models. Lying between these two is a primarily female segment that purchases an above average amount of clothing from budget brands. In addition to the segments’ different reported purchase behavior and a varying openness to alternative business models, we identify differences in willingness to pay for clothing made of material that is more environmentally friendly than conventional fabrics. These observations suggest several promising directions for environmental interventions tailored toward specific consumer segments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Attribute Segmentation and Communication Effects on Healthy and Sustainable Consumer Diet Intentions
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 743; doi:10.3390/su9050743
Received: 29 January 2017 / Revised: 13 April 2017 / Accepted: 28 April 2017 / Published: 4 May 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (566 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A shift towards more sustainable consumer diets is urgently needed. Dietary guidelines state that changes towards less animal-based and more plant-based diets are beneficial in terms of sustainability and, in addition, will have a positive effect on public health. Communication on these guidelines
[...] Read more.
A shift towards more sustainable consumer diets is urgently needed. Dietary guidelines state that changes towards less animal-based and more plant-based diets are beneficial in terms of sustainability and, in addition, will have a positive effect on public health. Communication on these guidelines should be most effective when tailored to the motivations of specific consumer segments. Therefore, the current study (1) segments consumers based on the importance they attach to sustainability, health, taste and price of food in several food categories; and (2) tests different ways (with health arguments, sustainability arguments, or both) of communicating the dietary guideline. Three segments have been identified: pro-self, average, and sustainable conscious consumers. For pro-self and average consumers, the communication of both health and sustainability benefits made them think most about sustainability, although communication did not result in changes in dietary intentions in these segments. For sustainable conscious consumers, intention to reduce their meat consumption increased when both health and sustainability benefits were communicated. These research outcomes indicate the importance of segmentation research in the development of dietary messages. In addition, the findings show the importance of taking product category differences into account in studying consumer food motivations and intentions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Collaborative Consumption: A Proposed Scale for Measuring the Construct Applied to a Carsharing Setting
Sustainability 2017, 9(5), 703; doi:10.3390/su9050703
Received: 26 January 2017 / Revised: 21 April 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 28 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (287 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent years, there has been a significant shift towards greater collaboration in various spheres of society, in which the creation of value from shared resources while balancing self-interest and community well-being is emphasized. Consumption has ceased to be characterized exclusively by the
[...] Read more.
In recent years, there has been a significant shift towards greater collaboration in various spheres of society, in which the creation of value from shared resources while balancing self-interest and community well-being is emphasized. Consumption has ceased to be characterized exclusively by the purchase and possession of goods; instead new collaborative initiatives represented by exchanges, loans, renting, and other forms of sharing that allow consumers access to a good or service only in the time they are necessary have appeared. However, few studies have attempted to measure the reasons that lead consumers to practice collaborative consumption. Therefore, the main objective of this article is to propose a scale that measures the motivators, facilitators, and constraints for this mode of consumption. For this, a study was conducted among carsharing users in Brazil, which aimed to purify and validate the proposed scale. The results indicate that collaborative consumption applied to a carsharing setting is composed of six dimensions and confirm the validity and reliability of the studied construct. The discussion highlights the study findings and offers suggestions for further research into this topic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Making Sense of Sustainability: A Practice Theories Approach to Buying Food
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 467; doi:10.3390/su9030467
Received: 8 December 2016 / Revised: 16 March 2017 / Accepted: 17 March 2017 / Published: 21 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (228 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In light of global climate change the relevance of sustainable food consumption is growing, yet access to it has not correspondingly developed. This paper addresses the issue of accessing sustainable food from a practice theories perspective. The case of students in Paris is
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In light of global climate change the relevance of sustainable food consumption is growing, yet access to it has not correspondingly developed. This paper addresses the issue of accessing sustainable food from a practice theories perspective. The case of students in Paris is examined by means of interviews and participant observation. Four indicators serve to structure the results, i.e., mode of recruitment, mode of engagement, degree of commitment, and bundles of practices. Based on this analysis, three types are constructed, each with distinct access issues. We conclude that access to sustainable food is not necessarily determined by financial means only, nor by individual attitudes, but should be analysed as embedded in the complex dynamics of multiple social practices. Building on these insights means that more attention for the actual practice of accessing sustainable food, the different elements, and bundles involved is needed when looking for ways to increase access to sustainable food. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Keep on Rockin’ in a (Plastic-)Free World: Collective Efficacy and Pro-Environmental Intentions as a Function of Task Difficulty
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 200; doi:10.3390/su9020200
Received: 27 October 2016 / Accepted: 24 January 2017 / Published: 1 February 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1173 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Collective efficacy—the belief that one’s group is capable of affecting relevant aspects of its environment—has been highlighted as an important predictor of sustainable behavior. It increases people’s collective action tendencies, and is important for fostering environmental behavioral change beyond self-efficacy beliefs. The current
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Collective efficacy—the belief that one’s group is capable of affecting relevant aspects of its environment—has been highlighted as an important predictor of sustainable behavior. It increases people’s collective action tendencies, and is important for fostering environmental behavioral change beyond self-efficacy beliefs. The current study addresses two primary goals. First, we tested whether the difficulty of a task increased collective efficacy, and thereby environmental intentions. Second, we explored how collective and self-efficacy in concert predict such intentions. In a combined field-and-survey study, 165 voluntary participants took part in a plastic reduction challenge that was pretested as easy, moderate, or difficult. After being confronted with the task, participants completed an online questionnaire in which, among other variables, specific and general self-efficacy, collective efficacy, and pro-environmental intentions were measured—both general and plastic-reduction specific. Results revealed that (a) collective efficacy was significantly stronger when task difficulty was moderate rather than easy or difficult; and (b) that through specific collective and self-efficacy perceptions, sustainable intentions were gauged—even when controlling for attitudes and social norms. These findings suggest that collective efficacy beliefs are particularly relevant for attaining environmental goals that are neither too easy nor too difficult, and could thus be valuable for communication and policy strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle Can Social Comparison Feedback Affect Indicators of Eco-Friendly Travel Choices? Insights from Two Online Experiments
Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 196; doi:10.3390/su9020196
Received: 10 November 2016 / Revised: 23 December 2016 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 29 January 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (240 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Two online experiments explored the effects of social comparison feedback on indicators of eco-friendly travel choices. It was tested whether the chosen indicators are sensitive to the information conveyed, and if this varies as a function of in-group identification. Study 1 (N
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Two online experiments explored the effects of social comparison feedback on indicators of eco-friendly travel choices. It was tested whether the chosen indicators are sensitive to the information conveyed, and if this varies as a function of in-group identification. Study 1 (N = 134) focused on unfavourable feedback (i.e., being told that one has a larger ecological footprint than the average member of a reference group). People who received unfavourable feedback reported stronger intentions to choose eco-friendly travel options than those who received nondiscrepant feedback, when in-group identification was high (not moderate or low). Perceived self- and collective efficacy were not associated with the feedback. Study 2 (N = 323) extended the focus on favourable feedback (i.e., being told that one has a smaller ecological footprint than the average member of a reference group). Neither unfavourable nor favourable feedback was associated with behavioural intentions, self- or collective efficacy. This means that Study 2 failed to replicate the finding of Study 1 that behavioural intentions were associated with unfavourable feedback, given that in-group identification is high. The findings are discussed in light of the existing literature. Suggestions are made for future studies investigating social comparison feedback as a means to motivate people to make eco-friendly travel choices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle The Effect of Elite Polarization: A Comparative Perspective on How Party Elites Influence Attitudes and Behavior on Climate Change in the European Union
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 39; doi:10.3390/su9010039
Received: 21 October 2016 / Revised: 18 December 2016 / Accepted: 23 December 2016 / Published: 28 December 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (220 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is considerable variability in attitudes towards climate change between citizens of different countries. By using individual-level and country-level data, I examine if this variability in public opinion is partially caused by political party elites. The results show that when elites are united
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There is considerable variability in attitudes towards climate change between citizens of different countries. By using individual-level and country-level data, I examine if this variability in public opinion is partially caused by political party elites. The results show that when elites are united in their support for environmental issues, the perceived threat of climate change is higher than in countries where party elites are divided. The results also demonstrate that the perceived threat influences behavior related to climate change, and that threat mediates the effect of party positions. Consequently, the effect of party elites is stronger than previously acknowledged. The models rely on Generalized Method of Moments estimation and instrumental variables with clustering on EU member-states. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle Market Opportunities for Animal-Friendly Milk in Different Consumer Segments
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1302; doi:10.3390/su8121302
Received: 29 September 2016 / Revised: 7 December 2016 / Accepted: 7 December 2016 / Published: 11 December 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (500 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Consumers have increasing, but highly variable, interest in sustainability attributes of food, including ethical aspects, such as animal welfare. We explored market opportunities for animal-friendly cow’s milk based on segmentation (cluster) analysis. Flemish survey participants (n = 787) were clustered (n
[...] Read more.
Consumers have increasing, but highly variable, interest in sustainability attributes of food, including ethical aspects, such as animal welfare. We explored market opportunities for animal-friendly cow’s milk based on segmentation (cluster) analysis. Flemish survey participants (n = 787) were clustered (n = 6) based on their intention to purchase (IP) animal-friendly milk, and their evaluation of cows’ welfare state (EV). Three market opportunity segments were derived from clusters and labelled as “high”, “moderate” and “limited”. Only 8% of the participants belong to the “high market opportunities” segment, characterized by a high IP and a low EV. The “limited” segment (44%) indicated a neutral to low IP and a positive EV. The “moderate” segment (48%) had a moderately positive IP and positive/negative EV. Reported willingness to pay, interest in information about the state of animal welfare and importance of the product attribute “animal welfare” differed among segments and were strongly related to IP. Most promising selling propositions about animal-friendly milk were related to pasture access. The high degree of differentiation within the Flemish milk market reveals market opportunities for animal-friendly milk, but for an effective market share increase supply of animal-friendly products needs to get more aligned with the heterogeneous demand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Consumer Behavior) Printed Edition available
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