Sustainability Liability: Effects of Product-Specific Factors on Consumers Evaluations of Sustainable Products

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Kamal-Abyaneh, Leila
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University of Guelph

Previous research suggests that people positively associate green products with gentleness, and negatively associate them with strength. These findings were shown to be the reason why people prefer a gentle green product more than a strong green product. However, the mechanisms are yet to be explored. Two within-subject experiments designed to study the effects of benefit congruity and attribute centrality on sustainable product preference and perceived functional performance. It was found that benefit congruity could result in different preferences towards green products. Specifically, when the benefit offered by product category is congruent with greenness (i.e., when the product is gentle), the preference is higher than when the benefit is incongruent (i.e., when the product is strong). The results show that this effect is mediated through perceived functional performance. In fact, people believe that a congruent green product performs functionally better than an incongruent one, which would result in higher preference towards the congruent green product rather than the incongruent version. This thesis also suggests that centrality of the green attribute is a major factor that can intensify the effect of benefit congruity on sustainable product preference. Finally, the exploratory analysis found that benefit congruity also influences the product preference through perceived greenness, and this mediation is intensified when the sustainable attribute is central. These findings contribute to different aspects of consumer phycology and behavioral literature, as well as offer substantial implications for marketing in the domain of sustainable products.

Sustainability liability, Sustainable product, Functional performance, Benefit congruity, Attribute centrality, Centrality