Consumer Behavior

 

Introduction

The marketing function is a fundamental element in businesses pursuit for future sustainability (Vorhies & Morgan 2005). Thus, developing adequate understanding on consumer behaviour constitutes an essential element in businesses’ marketing activities. Gaining knowledge on consumer behaviour provides business managers insight on the consumers’ decision process. According to Vorhies and Morgan (2005), understanding the consumer behaviour is one of the notable approaches through which an organisation can transform itself into a market-based learning institution.

On the basis of the knowledge gained on consumer behaviour, firms’ managers can make optimal marketing decisions that contribute to improvement in organisation’s long-term competiveness. For example, knowledge on consumer behaviour can improve the capability of marketing managers in forecasting future consumer behaviour and hence the demand of products (Fratu 2011). From this knowledge, a firm can be make effective product decisions such as product innovation and market segmentation (Szwacka-Mokrzycka 2015).

One of the notable aspects affecting contemporary business relate to development of the concept of sustainable consumption, which is evidenced by growth in adoption of green consumption behaviour. Lu, Chang and Chang (2015) define green consumerism as increase in consumers’ intention to purchase ecologically friendly products.  Miniero et al. (2014) affirms that ‘increasing attention is devoted to environmental and green issues such as overconsumption of natural resources, global warming , ozone depletion, air and water pollution’ (p.521). Miniero et al. (2014) further affirms that the level of green awareness amongst consumers will grow significantly into the future. This trend will have a significant impact on all business aspects. Lu, Chang and Chang (2015) affirms that development in the level of green awareness will lead to emergence of green buying intention, which is one of the fundamental components  of sustainable consumption.

Research aim  

The aim of this research is to develop adequate understanding on consumer behaviour with reference to green consumption behaviour.

Objectives

To achieve the study’s aim, the research will be guided by the following objectives.

  1. To investigate the factors that have contributed to development of green consumption behaviour.
  2. To evaluate the degree to which development of green consumption patterns have impacted the consumers’ purchase decision.   
  3. To examine the effect of green consumption behaviour on business practices.

Research questions

In line with the above research objectives the study will seek to respond to the following research questions.

  1. What factors have contributed to development of green consumer behaviour?
  2. To what extent has development of green consumption behaviour impacted the consumers purchase decision?
  3. In what ways has green consumption behaviour impacted business practices?

Rationale and justification

 The consumers’ behaviour has become very unpredictable because of the high rate of dynamism in the contemporary market. Emergence of green consumption behaviour is one of the notable changes that businesses should be concerned with. According to Wells, Ponting and Peattie (2011), consumers are increasingly entrenching the ethical dimension, which is evidenced by development of a sense of responsibility in their consumption process. This trend has arisen from recognition of the positive correlation between consumer behaviour and environmental impact. Miniero et al. (2014) asserts that green consumerism has a positive impact on different aspects that influence the consumers purchase decision. Li and Hsu (2015) accentuates that ‘green consumption includes day-to-day principles of reduced purchasing, lower consumption and less pollution’ (p.326). This assertion indicates that green consumption behaviour can influence businesses ability to generate the desired level of profitability.  Increase in calls to preserve the environment has increased the consumers’ understanding of unethical consumption practices on environmental degradation. Therefore, individuals’ consumption attitudes and preferences have changed significantly. To survive in the green consumerism era, it is imperative for businesses to understand how green consumerism impacts the likelihood of businesses attaining future sustainability, either directly or indirectly.  

Relevant theoretical concepts

Increase in the rate of global warming is a serious issue that poses a challenge to businesses survival. For example, the negative effects of globalisation such as flooding might directly impact business operations (Wells, Ponting & Peattie 2011). Increase in consumer knowledge on the link between global warming and consumer behaviour has created impetus for consumers to adjust their consumption patterns. Thus, consumers are increasingly inclining towards consumption of environmentally friendly products. Similarly, organisations are progressively adjusting their businesses strategies, with specific reference to integration of eco-friendly production and marketing activities (Miniero et al. 2014).  Emergence of the concept of green consumer behaviour has significantly challenged different aspects of consumer behaviour such as consumption habits and individual lifestyle (Miniero et al. 2014). According to Lin and Hsu (2015), ‘today, the consumption behaviour is strongly related to their lifestyles’ (p. 336). The change in consumer behaviour with reference to integration of green consumerism is founded under the social cognitive theory, which stipulates that change in individuals’ behaviour is influenced by environmental variables (Brem &Viardot 2015). The social cognitive theory further postulates that individuals’ behaviour is influenced by their current and future goals.

 Fratu (2011) is of the view that consumer behaviour is influenced by different factors that include social factors, cultural factors, psychological factors and natural factors. Knowledge on these factors can improve marketing managers’ insight on consumers’ demand. In line with social cognitive theory, green consumerism has arisen from change in consumers’ personal characteristics such as personal preferences due to increase in the level of self-awakening (Madhani 2016). Increase in the rate of globalisation has led to growth in consumer knowledge hence resulting in significant adjustment in consumer behaviour patterns (Szwacka-Mokrzycka 2015). In light of the high rate of globalisation, it is imperative for business managers to understand that their ability to influence the consumers’ behaviour depends on the effectiveness with which they are able to respond to the changing consumer behaviour.

Research procedure

            To develop adequate understanding on consumer behaviour with reference to green consumerism, the research study will be based on exploratory research design. Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2003) are of the view that exploratory research design contributes to development of extensive insight on the issue under investigation. The study will be based on mixed research approach (Pearce & William 2006). Therefore, the concept of triangulation, which entails integration of two or more research approaches, will be observed. The element of triangulation is very essential in eliminating blind spots that might arise due to reliance on one research design (Flick 2009). Thus, qualitative and quantitative research techniques will be employed. Qualitative research design will make the research study realistic by ensuring that data is collected from the field (Matveev 2002). Conversely, quantitative research design will aid in interpreting the qualitative aspects of the research.

Due to the exploratory nature of the study, the research will rely on primary data, which will be sourced from consumers who will be selected from the market using purposive sampling technique. Purposive sampling will ensure that the respondents selected are conversant with the concept of green consumerism. A sample of 100 respondents will be selected from the market. The choice of primary data is to ensure that the data collected reflects the prevailing market situation with reference to green consumerism. The research data will be collected by employing semi-structured questionnaires.

Ethical considerations

            The data collection process will be enhanced by observing relevant ethical issues. First, the researcher will seek the consent from the target respondents. The researcher will further establish a positive relationship with the respondents, for example by providing the respondents discretion to pull out of the study without any consequence. This move will improve the rate of respondents’ participation in the study (Cohen, Manion & Morrison 2003).  Thus, the respondents will not be coerced to participate in the study. The data collected will be coded and analysed by employing Microsoft Excel. This will aid in ensuring that the data is effectively presented using tables, charts and graphs.

Conclusion

            By employing the above methodological procedures, the study will successfully achieve the intended research purpose.

 

References

Brem, A & Viardot, E 2015, Adoption of innovation; balancing internal and external stakeholders in the marketing of innovation, Springer, Cham.

Cohen, L, Manion, L & Morrison, K 2003, Research methods in education, Routledge, New York.

Flick, U 2009, An introduction to qualitative research, Sage Publication, Thousands Oak.

Fratu, D 2011, ‘Factors of influencing and changes in the tourism consumer behaviour’, Economics Science, vol. 4, no. 53.

Lin, H & Hsu, M 2015, ‘Using social cognitive theory to investigate green consumer behaviour’, Business Strategy And The Environment, vol. 24, pp. 326-343.

Lu, L & Chang, H 2015, ‘Consumer personality and green buying intention; the mediate role of consumer ethical beliefs’, Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 127, pp. 205-219.

Madhani, P 2016, ‘Marketing ethics; enhancing firm valuation and building competitive advantages’, SCMS Journal of Indian Management, vol. 6, pp. 80-95.

Miniero, G, Codini, A, Bonera, M, Corvi, E & Bertoli, G 2014, ‘Being green; from attitude to actual consumption’, International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol. 38, pp. 521-528.

Pearce, D & William, G 2006,  Mixed method of data collection strategies, Cambridge University Press, New York.

Szwacka-Mokrzycka, J 2015, ‘Trends in consumer behaviour changes; overview of concepts’, Acta Sci. Pol. Oeconomia, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 149-156.

Vorhies, D & Morgan, N 2005, ‘Benchmarking marketing capabilities for sustainable competitive advantage’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 69, pp. 80-94.

Wells, V, Ponting, C & Peattie, K 2011, ‘Behaviour and climate change; consumer perceptions of responsibility’, Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 27, no. 7/8, pp. 808-833.

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