Eco-Friendly Products and Consumer Perception

ABSTRACT As resources are limited and scarce while huma n wants are unlimited, it is important for the marketers to utilize the resources effectively and efficiently without wastage as well as to achieve the organization’s objective. Green marketing is inevitable for the attainment of long term mission and vision of an organization. There has been rising awareness among the consumers all over the world concerning protection of the environment. People do desire to bequeath an uncontaminated earth to their offspring.

This research paper covers various forms of environmentally concerned consumer behavior and their determinants. The understanding of environmentally concerned consumer behavior is of importance to consumers, business, market place, educationists, public policy makers, thinkers and academicians. The last decades have seen a progressive increase in environmental consciousness worldwide as the environment moved from a fringe to a mainstream issue and consumers became more concerned about it.

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However, despite positive forecasts, demand for environmentally friendly products didn‘t grow as expected and both attitude-behavior and intention-behavior gaps emerged. Thus, this study endeavors to explore why people do not buy environmentally friendly products by finding out which are the main constraints impeding them to translate their green intentions into actual purchase behavior. Needless to say, paramount significance is going to be attached to eco-friendly products as they shall come to occupy the centre stage in coming years.

Commensurate with that, there will be a shift in consumer perception albeit at a low pace in coming years. Beginning in the 1970s, a significant amount of research has been conducted o n consumer behavior for environmentally friendly products. Many variables were shown to drive co nsumer choice in regards to purchasing environmentally friendly products. The growing social and regulatory concerns for the environment lead an increasing numb er of companies to co nsider green issues as a major source of strategic change.

For years, there have been warnings about the dangers of climate change, excessive natural resource consumption, and ever -increasing waste generation. Consumer Businesses are s ignificant users of natural resources – water, energy, fuel, agricultural resources, forest and marine resources. Outputs from Co nsumer Business operations, including packaging waste, solid waste, emissions, and waste -water, also have significant 279 INTRODUCTION www. zenithresearch. org. in KEYWORDS: Green Marketing, green consumer behavior, environmentally friendly products.

ZENITH International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Vol. 1 Issue 5, September 2011, ISSN 2231 5780 environmental impact, both directly and indirectly through co nsumer usage and disposal behaviors. Media headlines consistently focus on stories predicting dire consequences associated with the environment. Ascertaining fact from fiction and prior itizing true risks can be a daunting task. Since society becomes more anxious with the natural environment, businesses have started to adjust their behavior in an attempt to address society’s “new” concerns.

Some businesses have been quick to accept concepts like environmental management systems and waste minimiz ation, and have integrated environmental issues into all organizational activities. People are conscious about the less environment friendly product due to their own welfare that is why this issue is very modern topics for India. This paper tries to unearth consumer attitudes and perceptions towards eco- friendly products in FMCG sector and their willingness to pay on green products. WHAT IS GREEN MARKETING? Green marketing is inevitable for any type of organization.

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA) =green marketing‘ is the marketing of products that are presumed to be environmentally safe. It incorporates a broad range of activities, including product modification, changes to the production process, packaging changes, as well as modifying advertising. Defining green marketing is not a simple task where several meanings intersect and contradict each other. Other similar terms used are =Environmental Marketing‘, =Sustainable Marketing‘ and =Ecological Marketing‘.

As per Brundtland Commission (1987), ?Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future gene rations to meet their own needs (Rowell, 1996)?. Another definition is ?Green or Environmental Marketing consists of all activities designed to generate and facilitate any exchanges intended to satisfy human needs or wants, such that the satisfaction of these needs and wants occurs, with minimal detrimental impact on the natural environment?. (Polonsky 1994b). 280 Peattie (2001) described evolution of green marketing in three phases.

First phase is termed as “Ecological” green marketing, and during this period all marketing activities were co ncerned to help environment problems and provide remedies for environmental problems. Second p hase is “Environmental” green marketing and the focus shifted on clean technology that involved designing of innovative new products, which take care of pollution and waste issues. Third phase was “Sustainable” green marketing came into prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000. www. zenithresearch. org. in It is the voluntary pursuit of any activity that encompasses concern for energy efficiency, environment, water, conservation and the use of recycled/recycled products & renewable energy‘ (Confederation of Indian Industry) Industry ZENITH International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Vol. 1 Issue 5, September 2011, ISSN 2231 5780 METHODOLOGY In this section we briefly explain the research methods used in the data collection. The authors employed questionnaire method for data collection to explore consumers‘ purchasing behavior and reasoning for this behavior.

The survey was completed in Faridabad (Haryana) and the sample size was 45. People belonging to SEC A and SEC B (socio -economic classification A and B) were interviewed. The purpose of selecting respondents from this group was to generate data from people who are well educated and have a decent purchasing power. This number of interviews enabled us to achieve theoretical saturation in our target group. Our recruitment strategy was to encompassing a range of green consumers from different age group s, genders and socio-economic groups. The secondary data were collected from relevant journals, books and other published data.

The Main objective of the study is, to investigate the consumer attractiveness towards eco friendly products in FMCG sector and their impact of purchasing decision. 281 There is growing interest among the consumers all over the world for protection of the environment. The green consumers are the main motivating force behind the green marketing process. It is their concern for environment and their own well being that drives demand for eco friendly products, which in turn encourages improvements in the environmental perfo rmance of many products and companies. Thus, for a marketer it is important to identify the types o f green consumers.

Although no consumer product has a zero impact on the enviro nment, in business, the terms ?green product? and ?environmental product? are used commo nly to describe those products that strive to protect or enhance the natural environment by conserving energy and/or resources and reducing or eliminating use of toxic agents, pollution, and waste. Worldwide evidence indicates people are concerned about the environment and are changing their behavior and there is growing awareness among the consumers all over the world regarding protection of the environment where they live.

People do want to bequeath a clean earth to their offspring. Various studies by environmentalists indicate that people are concerned about the environment and are changing their behavior pattern so as to be less ho stile towards it. Research reveals that increasing number of the consumers, both individual and industrial, are asking for environment friendly products. Most of them feel that environment -friendly products are safe to use. As a result, green marketing has emerged, which aims at marketing sustainable and sociallyresponsible products and services profitably but without having any adverse effect on the environment.

Now is the era of recyclable, non-toxic and environment friendly goods. This has become the new mantra for marketers to satisfy the needs of consumers and earn better profits in a greener way. It includes a broad range of activities like product modification, changing the production process, modified advertising, change in packaging, etc. , aimed at reducing the detrimental impact of products and their consumption and disposal on the environment. Companies all over the world are striving to reduce the impact of products and services on the climate and other environmental parameters.

Marketers are taking the cue and are going green. Green marketer can attract customers on the basis of performance, money savings, health and convenience, or just plain enviro nmental friendliness, so as to target a wide range of green www. zenithresearch. org. in THE GREEN CONSUMER ZENITH International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Vol. 1 Issue 5, September 2011, ISSN 2231 5780 consumers. The green consumers are the driving forces behind the green marketing process. It is they who drive consumer demand, which in turn encourages improvements in the environmental performance of many products and companies.

Thus, for a markete r it is important to identify the types of green consumers. Demographically, =green customer,‘ our study reveals, are diversely spread along all income ranges, age brackets, education levels and various household sizes. On average green sho ppers are a little older, tend to have higher income, and more education, but you will find su bstantial numbers of green shoppers can be found distributed across the consumer population. CONSUMER ATTITUDES IN EMERGING MARKETS According to various research reports, shoppers are thinking green, but not always buying that way3. (Mainieri, Barnett, Valdero, Unipan, and Oskamp 1997).

We surveyed young business professionals about sustainable consumption in India. These young business people also represented young Indian consumers, mainly from the middle and upper socio -economic groups. Our research revealed that awareness and understanding of sustainable consumption among consumers was low; the majority of Indian consumers still buy small, unpackaged goods from low-cost, family-run shops. Even to wealthier Indian consumers, sustainable co nsumption was felt to imply only consuming less; the concept of consuming differently is ?a significant but missing factor?.

In addition to this, variety of barriers were identified, such as availability, affordability, convenience, product performance, conflicting priorities, skepticism and force of habit which prevent people from buying eco -friendly products. (McCarty and Shrum 1994) THE RISE OF CONSUMER POWER AND CONSUMER SKEPTICISM At the same time, our research indicates that consumers are less trusting of brands than in the past, and increasingly believe that they have the power to significantly influence how re sponsibly a company behaves.

A trusted source of peer -generated information: 61% of co nsumers now consider blogs a reliable source of information, and more than half trust consu mer-generated media. In addition to the traditional marketing criteria, customers want to judge the following environmental elements too: How environmentally friendly is the product? Are the manufacturing, packaging and promotion of green products sustainable? www. zenithresearch. org. in Many o f the early products designed to be environmentally responsible, such as electric cars and recycled paper, did not meet the basic expectations of consumers.

Rightly or wrongly, these early disappointments have made it tougher to convince today‘s consumers that green products work as well as those that they are intended to replace, or are worth higher prices. In their search for guidance on consumption choices, people trust each other more than any ot her source of information. 282 How green is the business overall? ZENITH International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Vol. 1 Issue 5, September 2011, ISSN 2231 5780 Is the marketing credible or just =greenwash‘ (environmental claims that could be considered false, unsubstantiated and/or unethical)?

However, during this study authors found that Neither customers nor manufacturers clearly state environmental benefits on product packaging. It is not clear to the general people that what kinds of benefits to expect in a given environmental friendly product. There is no legal authority that can certify environmental claims made by the manufacturers. Green Marketing here was only concerned with promotional activity with modest or no attempt being made in product development in the context of green product.

Extremely modest promotional activities have been taken by the government author ities or Chambers of Commerce and the related authority as well. Sustainability considerations either drive or influence the buying decisions of more than half the shoppers interviewed in our study. However, for most green shoppers, sustainability considerations are an important purchase driver, but secondary to other dominant purchase drivers. For most shoppers sustainable considerations become a tie -breaker only when other factors are in relative parity.

However, once a more sustainable product has captured the shopper‘s commitment it tends to create brand stickiness by retaining the shopper‘s loyalty through repurchase. We theorize that when a shopper makes a conscious selection o f a green product that they are making a personal contract that implies social responsibility and they are less likely to change products in the future. More than 50 percent consumers remain suspicious of ?greenwash? i. e. environmental claims that could be considered false, unsubstantiated and/or unethical (Ottman 1995).

The products available in today‘s supermarkets carry a wide range of labels, on-pack claims and elements of design that are meant to inform and reassure consumers on health, safety, environm ental or social concerns. Several brands, including grocery retailers, have developed their own labels; other brands use endorsements from non-certifying (but trusted) third parties, or on-pack claims (such as ?natural?) to convey sustainability attributes. Many consumers remain co nfused about which products are better for society and the environment. In regards to eco -labeling, many 83 LACK OF UNDERSTANDING/CONFUSION – ON-PACK CLAIMS AND LABELS www. zenithresearch. org. in This study found that although interest in buying green extended acros s all age, income and education levels, with 90 percent of respondents open to considering sustainable products, less than 25 percent of shoppers actively consider them when buying. Yet only 47 percent of those who consider buying eco friendly products act ually found green products on retail shelves and just 22 percent actually purchased them. ZENITH International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research

Vol. 1 Issue 5, September 2011, ISSN 2231 5780 experts have suggested that consumers are confused due to inappropriate labeling. Research has shown that consumers do not always understand environmentally friendly labels attached to products (Kangun and Polonsky 1995). Eco -labels such as =biodegradable,‘ =sustainable,‘ =fair wage/fair trade,‘ =environmentally friendly,‘ and =recyclable‘ are usually unfamiliar and/or unknown to consumers. Nevertheless, labels can play an important role in fostering sustainable consumption when used as part of a package of measures.

Confusion remains among consumers about the differences between fair-trade, ethical, organic and other types of pr oducts. Further, there is an unrealistic expectation of consumers, who are not usually willing to spend time understanding these issues and are rarely prepared to pay more for sustainable products In the absence of green certifications, eco -labels, and other indications of a product‘s environmental performance, the final decision frequently comes down to corporate reputation. A little more than half of our intentional green purchasers surveyed indicated that they would pay more for green products.

We also believe that in general our top two percent will pay more than 20 percent for many green products. The majority of shoppers are looking for par ity in pricing related to more sustainable products. In the shopper‘s mind, using fewer r esources is not usually more expensive. Our green shoppers tested as slightly more responsive to advertising and slightly less sens itive to promotions. Our interpretation of the statistics is that shoppers need more information related to green products and in general respond more favorably to an Every Day Low Price strategy than cyclical promotional strategies.

This closely aligns with the strong evidence of a loyalty effect connected with sustainable characteristics. Retailers and manufacturers are losing potential green sales from a quarter of shoppers at the store shelf. Inspiration and information will yield better conversion at the shelf level decision. For some shoppers, credibility and concerns about product performance enter int o the equation. Green products are getting lost in the store. Surveyed shoppers often couldn‘t find the green products they wanted in the store. It is very possible for green products to become lost in the assortment.

A good sustainable product strategy pr ovides clear visibility and selling cues to the shopper to highlight green products in the assortment. Retailers and manufacturers need to work 284 Many shoppers want green products, but retailers and brand marketers are losing green sales at several key points along the path to a purchase. The largest opportunities to capture sho ppers interested in green products involve building awareness, educating shoppers, making green products easier to find and recognize, enhancing in-store communications and inspiring shoppers at the store shelf.

Shoppers are becoming turned off about purchasing green at the last step. Although 47 percent of shoppers surveyed looked for and found green products, o nly 22 percent of the shoppers surveyed actually purchased one. www. zenithresearch. org. in Consumer businesses are missing a substantial opportunity t o market and provide greener products. Ninety percent of shoppers surveyed indicated they are ready and willing to consider more sustainable products, but green products were only purchased only in less than 20 percent of the shopping trips.

There are substantial gaps between the market‘s readiness for sustainable products and the delivery of those products to the shopper‘s market basket. ZENITH International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Vol. 1 Issue 5, September 2011, ISSN 2231 5780 together to determine the appropriate assortment of green products, minimize out -of-stocks, and clearly identify green products in the store. Utilizing shopper marketing programs and leveraging vehicles to draw attention to green products will help increase the green conversion rates.

One-third of shoppers surveyed who would buy green products indicated that they a re not yet inspired to look for them. Awareness and education move people along their ?green learning curve?. Shoppers do not always understand the social and environmental benefits of products and are often confused by the messages in the media. Many are unaware of what makes a product sustainable versus merely ?good for you. ? A large number of shoppers remain unsure of what is green, and some are still unsure of the whole green movement. In-store communication strongly influences green purchasing .

Some shoppers remain unsure of product performance or product quality; they assume sustainable products would not perform as well. Shoppers at this stage are questioning the product, so communicating brand and product attributes via in store signage and product packaging drives shoppers to purchase. The top three means of identifying a product as green for shoppers surveyed were through packaging/labeling, in-store signage and brand advertising. Retailers and manufacturers can leverage these vehicles to address quality and performance questions and motivate shoppers to become purchasers.

To address these issues, retailers and manufacturers need to provide more coordinated communication and education about sustainability. They need to make the business case for buying green to the shopper. Education on product benefits, social and environmental benefits, and actions that shoppers and consumers can take are needed from both retailers and manufacturers. Consistent, aligned messaging in stores, online, in advertising and involving other touch points is a critical step to driving shoppers from interested to purchasers.

THE ROLE OF BUSINESS: Participants felt that sustainability should be embedded into corporate strategies, including the responsible investment of compan y assets and the encouragement of social entrepreneurship. KEY ISSUES FOR BUSINESS Green marketing must satisfy two objectives: improved environmental quality and customer satisfaction. The vast majority of consumers, however, will ask, ?If I use =green‘ products, what‘s in it for me? ? the top reasons consumers do not buy green products included beliefs that they require sacrifices—inconvenience, higher costs, lower performance—without significant environmental benefits.

In practice, green appeals are not likely to attract mainstream consumer s 285 THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT: Support from government is essential, since some businesses will always seek to place profit before cost, even if the majority behaves responsibly: ?One of the most important aspects is to work closely with government – setting the law, regulations and tax framework. ? www. zenithresearch. org. in Significant opportunities exist in the development of new sustainable markets, such as for eco products, nonpetroleum-based products, sustainable buildings and public transport. ZENITH

International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Vol. 1 Issue 5, September 2011, ISSN 2231 5780 unless they also offer a desirable benefit, such as cost -savings or improved pro duct performance. To avoid green marketing myopia, marketers must fulfill consumer needs and interests beyond what is good for the environment. How do you create a green strategy that is pitch perfect and tuned for long-term success? Why should people believe a company‘s claim? To be effective, company‘s strategy and messages need to be convincing. This means that they must be backed by facts and figures.

Companies need to make environmental friendly products easily available and affordable and without compromising on performance and at no extra costs for the consumer to make i nformed purchasing decisions, as they increasingly report a willingness to do so. In order to have a credible, sustainable brand, companies must have operational integrity and their co mmunications have to strike the right balance between visibility and transparency An integrated marketing communications approach and/or a holistic approach, using eco -labels, may better educate consumers on the social and environmental impacts of their co nsumer purchasing decisions.

What companies must remember, however, is that environme ntal labeling schemes are only a supplement to – not a substitute for – general environmental awareness and educational efforts (Thogersen 2000). In addition, studies have shown that, in making purchasing decisions, consumers use labels only when he/she trusts the message co nveyed; therefore, labels should be promoted in a way that conveys t rust. The purchase of many everyday products has a habitual character.

It is performed in a stable context, often executed with high frequency and without much reflection. A familiar brand label or product look may serve as a cue initiating an automatic response or habit. During recent years consumers have been asked to show environmental concern. The automatic process should compete with a new behavioral intention: to make an environmentally benign choice. A frequent and successful implementation of this new intention will, it is hoped, result in a new habit that replaces the old one.

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Eco-Friendly Products and Consumer Perception. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from