Purpose – This paper aims to achieve a better understanding of the social dimension underlying green purchasing behavior by assessing the impact of environmental concern ascribed to relevant others. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted among 468 French interviewees. Using a scenario, respondents were asked to choose between two similar products: one is very fashionable but harmful to the environment and the other has comparable features with a lower negative impact on the environment. In parallel, respondents had to cite four relevant others and to make several attributions about them. Environmental concern was one of these attributions. Findings – Ascribed environmental concern increases the probability to choose the product with a low environmental impact over the more harmful alternative. This process is mediated by perceived social risk and self-incongruity associated with the environmentally unfriendly product. Research limitations/implications – Conclusions are drawn on the basis of a specific choice for a particular product category. Practical implications – Environmentally responsible consumers should be encouraged to express their convictions publicly within their social network. Social implications – Consumers are more inclined to adopt an environmental reading of what they plan to buy when they ascribe environmental preoccupations to their referent others either to preserve their social ties or to preserve their self-congruity. This proximity effect should be exploited to promote pro-environmental behaviors. Originality/value – Most studies on the determinants of green behavior either focus exclusively on individual predispositions or tackle social influence too explicitly. By assessing the effect of ascribed environmental concern instead on individual environmental concern, this research offers an original approach.
Journal of Consumer Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 4, 2014