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Green Products and Intention of Consumers: Overview Point

Akram M.Alhamad

Universiti Malaysia Perlis, School of Business and entrepreneurship

Mohd Zukime Bin Hj. Mat Junoh

Universiti Malaysia Perlis, School of Business and entrepreneurship

Tunku Salha binti Tunku Ahmad

Universiti Malaysia Perlis, School of Business and entrepreneurship

Green products and good is an essential strategy worldwide to save the climate and sustain the consuming of the natural resources via techniques including recycling ability, energy saving, eco and natural production. Therefore, the green products have been an important academic research topic for at least three decades. The paper explored issues related to the green products with on consumers’ behavioural intention. Also, to elaborate the importance of green products to indicating of their improvement. The application and mechanics green products discussed related to the implementation of the current practices of environmental green product improvement that adopted in firms.

 

1. Introduction

Green marketing is producing and promoting reusable and eco-friendly products (Schiffman & Wisenblit 2014). Rise in issues of global warming and climate change have appeal consumers’ attention towards green products which are safe for a sustainable environment. According to Gupta and Ogden (2009), the industry for green products was estimated at over $200 billion in 2006. Various researchers have spurred interest in issues surrounding environmental conservation and protection in the marketplace (Mintel, 2006). Together, with the continuous rise of growing global concern about the environmental quality, green marketing has picked up momentum (Stafford, 2003; Ottman et al., 2006). As highlighted by Papadopoulos et al. (2010), green marketing is expected to strengthen and influence the market even more in Greece and the “green market” counts about $250 billion in USA. The population of Mauritius comprising both consumers and producers has equally expressed increasing concerns about the environmental impact of products in the recent years (Juwaheer, 2005). Likewise, a wide range of green products including organic foods, recyclable paper, eco-light bulbs, eco broom, environmentally designed tyres and eco-friendly detergents amongst others are now available in Mauritius. Hence, the emergence of green products can be seen throughout the different industries in Mauritius starting from the detergents industry to the automobile industry. Similarly, different companies, like for example, Permoglaze, Mauvillac, Michelin and Toyota Mauritius Ltd are continuously engaged in the protection of the environment and are adopting green advertising strategies and practices in Mauritius. In this respect, there is considerable evidence that most markets in developing economies including Mauritius have been influenced by green consumer behaviour (Hardin, 1993; Mainieri and Barnett, 1997; Juwaheer, 2005). This “green trend” has given rise to a unique category of products: the green or environmentally friendly products. We should expect that the growing environmental concern and awareness would be translated into a growing demand for green products and consequently into a growing market share for this category. The interesting fact here is that this does not seem to be the case. Either they are self-proclaimed or genuinely green, this category of products is yet to capture the share of market that the urgency of the environment’s deterioration dictates (Ahma, 2013; Kalafatis et al., 1999).  With the trend of going green, both consumers and businesses are willing to make the green step forward. Nonetheless, Green products and services are out there, environmentally concerned consumers are also out there, but the market doesn’t seem to reflect or prove that the intentions and positive attitudes of green consumers are translated into actual buying behavior (ahma, 2013; Kleiner, 1991; Schlossberg 1991; Gupta and Ogden, 2009). This gap may be attributed to various reasons (Grimmer and Bingham, 2013): consumers may be more likely to shop based on traditional product attributes (e.g. price, performance etc.), consumers may not trust the environmental claims of companies and products or consumers may not have adequate environmental knowledge, concern or the necessary commitment.

Generally, the green products are expensive due to lack of economies of scale and slow adoption of cutting edge green technology (Polonsky and Rosenberger, 2001; Ottman, 2008; Kirmani & Khan, 2015). Therefore, the success of marketing of green products depends upon the effectiveness of the marketers to convince the prospective consumers that the benefits accruing from ecological soundness of the products offset the additional costs associated with the usage of these products. Although, achieving this conviction among the consumers is not an easy task and it requires deep knowledge of the factors which stimulate environment-related emotions among the consumers (Thogersen, 2007; Windrum et al., 2009). The previous studies have suggested that lack of proper understanding of these factors may results into problems such as backlash in green marketing (Crane, 2000), problems of green spinning, green selling, green harvesting, environpreneur marketing and compliance marketing (Peattie & Crane, 2005), green marketing myopia (Ottman et al., 2006) and six sins of green marketing (TerraChoice, 2007). Hence, marketers need to be aware of various factors affecting the green preferences of the consumers. An enhanced knowledge of these factors would be extremely useful for the marketers in dovetailing strategies for the marketing of green products.

 

2. Green Products 

The terms “green” or “sustainable” often refer to products, services or practices that allow for economic development while conserving for future generations.  I prefer to describe a green product as one that has less of an environmental impact or is less detrimental to human health than the traditional product equivalent.  While on the topic of defining a green product, you must realize that almost no product will ever be 100% “green,” since all product development will have some impact on the surrounding environment (Glavič & Lukman, 2007). Green products are energy efficient, durable and often have low maintenance requirements; free of Ozone depleting chemicals, toxic compounds and don’t produce toxic by-products; often made of recycled materials or content or from renewable and sustainable sources; Obtained from local manufacturers or resources, and biodegradable or easily reused either in part or as a whole (Ashby, 2016).

Green products are characterized by organic food, recyclability, eco-friendly packaging, non-toxic material, biodegradability, energy efficiency, etc. (Mangun and Thurston, 2002; Bearse et al., 2009; Dangelico and Pontrandolfo, 2010; Massawe and Geiser, 2012). These green products are expected to be designed and manufactured embracing procedures and processes that are energy efficient and less physical resource intensive during their entire life cycle (Shamdasami et al., 1993; Janssen & Jagey, 2002). These products also have environmentally sound content and/or packaging (Elkington and Makower, 1988; Wasik, 1996).

Whether a product is green is a complex issue and is often the subject of debate (Dangelico and Pujari, 2010; Schiederig et al., 2012). Researchers have different opinions on features that constitute green products. According to Lin and Chang (2012), green products comprise all those products which are biodegradable, non- toxic and have eco-friendly packaging. While according to Chen and Chang (2013), green products should not have a detrimental impact on natural environment and also on human health. Researchers have also suggested that green products, in comparison to conventional products, should perform better on the ecological parameters ((Alabdullah , Laadjal, Ries, & Al-Asadi, 2018; Alabdullah, Nor, & Ries, 2018; Alabdullah, 2018; Alabdullah, 2017; Alabdullah, 2016; Alabdullah, Yahya, Nor, & Majeed, 2016; Ottman et al., 2006; Schiederig et al., 2012). In fact, the most important difference between the green and the non-green products is that the performance of a green product improves continuously in terms of their greenness (Schiederig et al., 2012). More specifically, the greenness in products covers many qualities such as low water usage, reduced packaging, organically/locally grown, fair trade, energy efficiency, biodegradability, easy to dissolve or decompose in soil, air, and water, non-toxic and low volatile organic compounds and recyclability (Mangun and Thurston, 2002; Bearse et al., 2009; Dangelico and Pontrandolfo, 2010; Massawe and Geiser, 2012). On the basis of these qualities, Bearse et al. (2009) have provided some examples of green products in different categories which can be observed in Table 1.

Some successful green products in the market are Toyota Prius, Light Emitting Diodes (LED) and Tide Coldwater as the most successful green products currently available in the market (Ottman, 2008; Brodrick, 2013). According to Ottman (2008), Toyota Prius is the perfect mix of quality and environmental characteristics. In addition to all the desirable qualities of a sedan, Toyota Prius also has a hybrid engine which results in fuel efficiency and, thereby, energy conservation. Similarly, Tide cold water conserve energy as it allows consumers to wash clothes with cold water instead of hot water (Ottman, 2008). According to Brodrick (2013), LEDs are 80 percent more energy efficient than traditional lightings such as fluorescent and incandescent lights.

 

 

 

Table ‎1: Examples of Green Products

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The incorporation of greenness in a product starts right from the first stage of product development and continues till the launch of the product in market (Pujari et al., 2003; Orange, 2010). Pujari et al. (2003) delved into the concept of environmental new product development (ENPD) and suggested that the incorporation of eco-friendly attributes in products begins at the idea generation stage and continue till the marketing and selling stage. Orange (2010) has also echoed Pujari et al. (2003) and suggested that the firms must attempt to incorporate green attributes at each stage of a new product development. Figure 1. shows the eco-friendly features at each stage of the product development and use.

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Figure 1: Eco-friendly Features at Different Stages of Product Development and Use Raw

With regard to role of stakeholders in ENPD, researchers have indicated that there is a range of complex stakeholder interest involved in each stage of the new product development (NPD) process (Peattie & Ratnayake, 1992; Hart, 1995; Polonsky and Rosenberger, 2001). Tiwari et al. (2011) have emphasized that green product development is more than just creating an ecologically sound product; it is about systematic change in society that comprise consumers, producers and the general commercial structure within which the stakeholders negotiate. Polonsky and Ottman (1998) have provided relevant examples of how stakeholders can be integrated into five stages (opportunity identification, design, testing, introduction; and lifecycle management) of the NPD process. These five stages can be observed in Table 2.2. It can be observed from Table 2. that customers are involved during all the stages of the NPD process. They are the most important stakeholder from the business firms’ perspective. The designing of appropriate marketing strategies and their successful implementation is, thus, very important to mobilize consumers towards green purchases. Next section is, therefore, devoted to discussion on the marketing of green products.

 

 

 

 

 

Table ‎2. Greening the NPD process- Stakeholder Involvement

 pastedGraphic_2.png

Churchill and Peter, 2005 (cited in Alsmadi, 2007, p.345-346) described four marketing mix for environmental products to be important for the positioning of green products in consumers‘mind for functional or emotional factors. Four elements for the green product marketing mix are:

(1) Green products: Products which are environment friendly and do no harm the user or environment or have minimal amount of harm for the environment and users.

(2) Green pricing: Green pricing means green product may be of a little bit higher price since it has environment friendly ingredients. Sometimes green products may be less expensive because of ingredients or production process.

(3) Green marketing channels: Where the company and members of the different channels are committed to follow green strategy for promotion, distribution and handling environment friendly or green products. Channels are also considered on the recycling process of their products.

(4) Green marketing communication: In this process marketers communicate with consumer by advertisement in print and electric media with message of how much environment friendly their products are. This dissemination of green message helps the company to get consumers involved with their products that gives the company a chance to get competitive advantage over non-green products.

 

3. Consumer and Attitude towards Green Products  

Since the green marketing become the contemporary trend in business, it is important to understand how this concept affects the consumer preferences. Ecologically conscious consumers can be defined as individuals who are willing to consume the products which do not influence negatively the environment (Roberts, 1996). According to Hailes (2007), a green consumer is a person who associates the act of buying goods with the possibility to leave environment untouched. The author state that such persons trying to avoid consuming products which might be risky to health, damage the environment, stimulate extra consumption of energy, or contain unsafe ingredients. Increasing the environmental awareness among consumers led to emergence of new concept - green purchase intention. This concept means that customers who have higher level of environmental awareness will more likely behave her/himself environmentally friendly. (Sheltzer et al., 1991). Working with green purchase intentions marketers need to remember that consumers unlikely will compromise on traditional product characteristics as quality, price and value. Green products have to combine all these attributes and provide enough high level of them (Chen and Chang, 2012). Not all the consumers are equally favourable to eco-friendly goods. It is possible to differentiate consumer segments related to green products and the behaviour inside these segments is also varying (Lindqvist, 2010).

One of the well-known segmentation of consumers’ environmental attitudes was developed by the Roper Organization in 1990, according to which there are five categories of consumers:

  • True-Blue Greens – they are the most active among other green consumers (11% of the population);
  • Greenback Greens – their commitment is reflected in willingness to pay higher price for the green products (11%);
  • Sprouts – individuals who support green initiatives, but these ideas not always reflects in pro-environmental behaviour (26%);
  • Grousers – individuals who realise lack of pro-environmental behaviour and trying to improve that through different types of excuses or through criticizing of the others (24%);
  • Basic Browns – individuals who do not believe that environmental problems are so urgent (Coddington, 1993).

There are a lot of other approaches to segmentation, one of the most popular was developed by J. Walter Thompson (Coddington, 1993):

  • Greener-that green (23%); 
  • Green (59%); 
  • Light green (15%); 
  • Un-green (3%).

A lot of people buying green products, but their behaviour is caused by different reasons and attributes. Green consumers may vary in such type of terms:

  • Demand for eco-friendly products can have different reasons: strong pro- environmental beliefs, desire to try something new;
  • Level of interest in environmental issue can vary; 
  • Frequency of acting as a green consumer; 
  • Level of commitment into searching of green alternatives; 
  • Loyalty to green and to traditional brands; 
  • Belief in the reliability and credibility of the eco-friendly product or producer; 
  • Acceptance of changes in price level for green products (Peattie, 1992).

Combination of all these factors creates a wide range of different types of behaviours among green consumers. Working with ecological attitudes and intentions marketers need to remember that they explain the sales of green products just to a small extent. People purchase green just when they also willing to expand efforts in obtaining these products: e.g., information, availability or price. This readiness is different from one product to another (Hopfenbeck, 1993).

According to Fazio (1995), attitude is an interaction in memory between a given object and a summary evaluation of this object. Attitude is likely to reveal the psychological assessment of a product by the consumer (Bonne, 2007; Eagly, 1995). In particular, previous studies have focused on the relationship between attitudes and intention. For example, Irland (1993), concluded that consumer’s purchasing intentions are dependent upon their environmental attitudes. According to Tsen et al. (2006), attitude is among factors that plays a major role in predicting intentions of consumers who will pay for green products. Mostafa (2007), found that the positive relationship between attitude and intention has been established in many cultures. Attitude has a clear role in the decision to accept a specific behaviour.

 

4. Conclusion

Green products and good is an essential strategy worldwide to save the climate and sustain the consuming of the natural resources via techniques including recycling ability, energy saving, eco and natural production. Results of the marketing strategy tools is important to point of sales such as minimarkets, supermarkets, and hypermarkets to emphasis of the critical success marketing tools. The results are also important at the manufacturer level as the study will provide the perception of consumers in tools such as labelling, packaging, and branding. So, they can enhance their future practices. The findings will be also important for government and legalization bodies in developing strategic objectives to enhance the green products consumption. This paper was designed to explain and understand the differences in terms of categories of green marketing strategies as they relate to what is obtainable in the purchase green products. The paper started with an understanding of the concepts available in green marketing strategies as well as understanding what a firm is all about. Such an understanding laid the foundation for further research on the topic of discussion and the revelation is that green marketing strategies adopting categories that are designed to eliminate the possibility of predicting the future.

 

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