Consumer effects of environmental impact in product labeling

Norm Borin (Orfalea College of Business, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California, USA)
Douglas C. Cerf (Orfalea College of Business, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California, USA)
R. Krishnan (Marketing Department, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Publication date: 25 January 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of different levels of environmental information on key consumer metrics. More specifically, it aims to evaluate environmentally benign products against those that have negative environmental impacts.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple product categories and messages that varied from strongly negative to strongly positive were used to test whether the accuracy/completeness of the information changes consumers' view of green products.

Findings

The results show that consumer perception of product quality, value, and purchase intentions does not differ significantly between products with positive environmental messages and those without any message. Products with positive environmental messages are viewed better than products with negative environmental messages. It is also found that the impact of environmental information is greater for consumable products.

Practical implications

Clearly presented information can make a significant difference in consumer evaluation of products. If green products highlighted the reasons why products free of harmful ingredients did not have a negative impact on the environment, and if non‐green products were required to disclose the harmful impact of their ingredients, green products would be favorably perceived over the non‐green alternative.

Social implications

The paper conjectures that if “fair” and clear explanations of environmental impact, both good and bad, are required, consumer evaluations of green products will improve and, ultimately, a larger percentage of consumers will purchase green products. The findings suggest that policy makers should require manufacturers to disclose key product ingredients and their environmental impact.

Originality/value

This project adds to the growing body of literature on environmental labeling, and investigates the effects of different levels of environmental information on key consumer metrics.

Keywords

Citation

Borin, N., Cerf, D. and Krishnan, R. (2011), "Consumer effects of environmental impact in product labeling", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 76-86. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363761111101976

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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