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Measuring young consumers’ sustainable consumption behavior: development and validation of the YCSCB scale

Daniel Fischer (Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Communication (INFU), Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany)
Tina Böhme (Institute of Vocational Education and Work Studies, Technische Universitat Berlin, Berlin, Germany)
Sonja Maria Geiger (Institute of Vocational Education and Work Studies, Technische Universitat Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 21 August 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

Promoting sustainable consumption among young consumers has become a key priority on the research agenda in such different fields as education for sustainable development, environmental psychology and consumer policy. Progress in this field has been hampered by a lack of sophisticated research instruments capable of measuring consumption behaviors that are relevant both in terms of their sustainability impacts and their suitability for teenagers. This study aims to address this research gap and presents a scale for young consumers’ sustainable consumption behaviors (YCSCB) in the areas of food and clothing.

Design/methodology/approach

The scale was developed in a two-step, mixed-methods approach. In an initial qualitative interview study, the actual behaviors of theoretically selected young consumers (n = 8) were identified with regard to acquiring, using and disposing of consumer goods in the areas of food and clothing. The YCSCB scale was constructed using the findings of this qualitative study and then validated in a subsequent quantitative study (n = 155).

Findings

The YCSCB scale is a valid and reliable scale to measure young consumers’ sustainable consumption behavior in the areas of food (n = 14 items) and clothing (n = 13 items).

Originality/value

The findings of this research provide a twofold contribution to advancing research on YCSCB. Firstly, it presents a consolidated scale that is explicitly constructed for teenagers and their consumption contexts. Secondly, it proposes a heuristic for developing more sophisticated measurements of SCB among young consumers that would allow a comparison between studies, is focused on behaviors (instead of confounding behaviors with intentions, attitudes or values) and is impact-oriented in terms of sustainability relevance.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Jana Koltzau and Hannah Auerochs for their support in the collection and analysis of data, Carolin Kameke in the preparation of tables and Theresa Horbach for background research, Paul Lauer for proofreading and editing, as well as two anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. The work was part of the project BiNKA (Education for Sustainable Consumption through Mindfulness Training [project funding reference number: 01UT1416], funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in the Socio-Ecological Research Programme on Sustainable Economy between 2015 and 2018).

Citation

Fischer, D., Böhme, T. and Geiger, S.M. (2017), "Measuring young consumers’ sustainable consumption behavior: development and validation of the YCSCB scale", Young Consumers, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 312-326. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-03-2017-00671

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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