Postprint version. Published in Journal of Consumer Marketing, Volume 28, Issue 1, January 1, 2011, pages 76-86.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of different levels of environmental information on key consumer metrics. More specifically, it aims to evaluate environmentally benign products against those that have negative environmental impacts.
Design/methodology/approach – Multiple product categories and messages that varied from strongly negative to strongly positive were used to test whether the accuracy/completeness of the information changes consumers’ view of green products.
Findings – The results show that consumer perception of product quality, value, and purchase intentions does not differ significantly between products with positive environmental messages and those without any message. Products with positive environmental messages are viewed better than products with negative environmental messages. It is also found that the impact of environmental information is greater for consumable products.
Practical implications – Clearly presented information can make a significant difference in consumer evaluation of products. If green products highlighted the reasons why products free of harmful ingredients did not have a negative impact on the environment, and if non-green products were required to disclose the harmful impact of their ingredients, green products would be favorably perceived over the non-green alternative.
Social implications – The paper conjectures that if “fair” and clear explanations of environmental impact, both good and bad, are required, consumer evaluations of green products will improve and, ultimately, a larger percentage of consumers will purchase green products. The findings suggest that policy makers should require manufacturers to disclose key product ingredients and their environmental impact.
Originality/value – This project adds to the growing body of literature on environmental labeling, and investigates the effects of different levels of environmental information on key consumer metrics.