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The environmental belief-behaviour gap: Exploring barriers to green consumerism

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While more and more consumers profess a desire to be environmentally-friendly, many firms have not experienced the expected financial gains from offering green products and services. This presents a frustrating paradox for managers as a society with seemingly strong environmental attitudes has yet to follow through in its collective behaviour. In this research, we conduct qualitative interviews to investigate why consumers call themselves environmentally-conscious but fail to live in a way that is congruent with these values. Two main themes emerge. First, while green may be ingrained into our culture, consumers do not feel enough social pressure or influence to act on their beliefs. Second, given the vast scope of the problem, many individuals do not believe that one person can have a tangible effect. We propose that perceived green impact - or the degree to which individuals believe their environmentally focused behaviours matter - may moderate relationships described by the theory of planned behaviour and increase the theory's explanatory power in a green context. Further, our findings may help policymakers and managers create strategies that encourage consumers to act in accordance with their environmental beliefs.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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