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The importance of the export country's environmental image for consumer responses to an imported environmentally friendly product

John Thøgersen (Department of Management, MAPP Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Susanne Pedersen (Department of Management, MAPP Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 13 May 2021

Issue publication date: 26 October 2021

378

Abstract

Purpose

Filling a gap in extant research regarding the measurement of an export country's environmental image and investigating its importance for consumers' evaluation of an environmentally differentiated imported product.

Design/methodology/approach

Online surveys carried out in Denmark (Study 1), Germany and France (Study 2; N˜500 from each country). In Study 1, we develop an environmental country image instrument and investigate its nomological validity vis-à-vis other country image constructs and Danish consumers' evaluation of organic milk from Germany. In Study 2, we validate the instrument with consumers from Germany and France, evaluating organic milk from Denmark.

Findings

Consumers differentiate between a country's environmental image and its general and production-related images. The country's environmental image is important to consumers' evaluation of an environmentally differentiated product from the country. Specifically, we find that a country's environmental image strongly influences its product-specific images and, through these, the consumer's evaluation of an organic food product from the country.

Practical implications

Consumers' use of a country's environmental image as a cue to the credibility of environmental claims gives competitive advantages to exporters from countries with a favorable environmental image, while exporters from countries with an unfavorable environmental image need measures to compensate. Companies and countries should monitor how the environmental image of their country evolves in important markets and be ready to act when facing damages to their country's environmental image.

Originality/value

This article is the first to propose a measure of environmental country image and to document that consumers use the environmental image of an exporting country to assess environmental claims on imported products.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper is an outcome of the SOMDwIT project, which is part of the Organic RDD 2.2 programme coordinated by ICROFS (International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems). The project is funded by the Green Development and Demonstration Program under the Danish Ministry for the Environment and Food. Grant number 34009-15-0985. We are grateful to Jessica Aschemann-Witzel for collaboration on the research design and idea, to Maylis Castell for her help with the French translation of the questionnaire and to Birgitte Steffensen for proofreading the text.

Citation

Thøgersen, J. and Pedersen, S. (2021), "The importance of the export country's environmental image for consumer responses to an imported environmentally friendly product", International Marketing Review, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 1217-1241. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-05-2020-0085

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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