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Published in: Marketing Letters 2/2024

16-10-2023

What does sustainability mean in the minds of consumers? A multi-country panel study

Authors: Frank Goedertier, Bert Weijters, Joeri Van den Bergh, Ole Schacht

Published in: Marketing Letters | Issue 2/2024

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Abstract

In developed countries, sustainability is increasingly an active agenda topic for businesses. Yet a view on what sustainability exactly means in the minds of consumers is missing. In response to this research opportunity, online panel respondents from seven advanced economies (France, UK, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, N = 5620) were surveyed in two cross-sectional waves. Factor analytical results show that consumers associate sustainability with three key subdimensions: ‘social equality’ (e.g., fair wages), ‘circularity’ (e.g., recycling) and ‘naturalness’ (e.g., avoiding use of pesticides and GMOs). This observation offers inspiration to update the traditional two-dimensional (social vs. environmental) structure of sustainability advanced in previous literature. In addition, the identified ‘naturalness’ dimension may point to a new route to stimulate pro-environmental behavior as it has both a strong link with the environment and may introduce an affective undertone. We discuss theoretical and managerial implications, and report observed country, gender, and age differences.

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Appendix
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Metadata
Title
What does sustainability mean in the minds of consumers? A multi-country panel study
Authors
Frank Goedertier
Bert Weijters
Joeri Van den Bergh
Ole Schacht
Publication date
16-10-2023
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Marketing Letters / Issue 2/2024
Print ISSN: 0923-0645
Electronic ISSN: 1573-059X
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11002-023-09699-y

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