What does sustainability mean in the minds of consumers? A multi-country panel study
Publication typeJournal article with impact factor
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AbstractIn developed countries, sustainability is increasingly an active agenda topic for businesses. Yet a view on what sustainability exactly means in the minds of consumers is missing. In response to this research opportunity, online panel respondents from seven advanced economies (France, UK, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, N = 5620) were surveyed in two cross-sectional waves. Factor analytical results show that consumers associate sustainability with three key subdimensions: ‘social equality’ (e.g., fair wages), ‘circularity’ (e.g., recycling) and ‘naturalness’ (e.g., avoiding use of pesticides and GMOs). This observation offers inspiration to update the traditional two-dimensional (social vs. environmental) structure of sustainability advanced in previous literature. In addition, the identified ‘naturalness’ dimension may point to a new route to stimulate pro-environmental behavior as it has both a strong link with the environment and may introduce an affective undertone. We discuss theoretical and managerial implications, and report observed country, gender, and age differences.
KeywordConsumer Perceptions, Sustainable Consumption, Cross-National Survey, Structural Equation Modeling, Dimensionality of Sustainability
Knowledge Domain/IndustryMarketing & Sales