International Journal of Consumer Studies

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Vulnerable Older Consumers: New Persuasion Knowledge Achievement Measure

Thu, 20/07/2017 - 17:40

The present research describes a new persuasion knowledge measure for older consumers which can be applied for both diagnostic and preventive purposes. Persuasion knowledge refers to information, attitudes, beliefs and schemas guiding our behavior in situations where persuasion is involved. Many older consumers belong to a specific, vulnerable group, who often fail to maintain their interest in persuasive situations, so the proposed measure could serve a better understanding of their behavior.

First, a new, situation-based achievement measure, entitled ‘Persuasion Knowledge Achievement Measure' (PKAM), was developed in university samples (N=530) in several stages. Afterwards, the developed measure was adopted to older individuals, resulting in the Persuasion Knowledge Achievement Measure for Older People (PKAM-OP). Following a pilot study with personally-assisted data collection (N=50), the examinees were reached through an elderly care network in a two-stage procedure (N=183, N=116).

The psychometric analyses of the data show a high level of reliability and validity for both tests. The results of the main research studies indicate that there are two subscales of the measure: “Agreeableness” and “Persuasion Knowledge”. Based on the empirical data, the subscales provide reliable measures of features which guide behavior in persuasive situations. In sum, PKAM-OP can fulfil theoretical and practical needs in research and prevention interventions focusing on older consumers. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Values, socially-conscious behavior, and consumption emotions as predictors of Canadians' intent to buy Fair Trade products

Thu, 20/07/2017 - 12:17

Over the last two decades, a growing concern about ethical behavior has been observed among consumers. Ethically-minded consumers are more inclined towards the consumption of ethical goods, such as green products and fair trade (hereafter, “FT”) products, organic products, and local products. Establishing the motives that predict FT consumption behavior provides ground for understanding how consumers make purchase decisions. This research postulates that the intention of buying FT products is influenced by socially-conscious behavior, consumers' values, and emotions. The study, conducted among 268 Canadian consumers, shows that the high intention of buying FT products is linked to high levels of pride, enthusiasm, satisfaction, happiness, and joy related to FT product consumption. The FT consumption experience provides consumers with hedonic gratification. It shows that the higher the levels of self-centered, equality, and social justice values are, the higher the intention of buying FT products. An increase in socially-conscious behavior generates an increase in intention of purchasing FT products. The research contributes to a preliminary analysis of the role of emotions in this field and calls for the development of cognitive-affective models of purchase and consumption behavior. Understanding the dimensions of hedonic values and the significance of pleasure experience is essential to the development of the theory and practices of FT consumption. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Bringing Complexity and Convergence Governance to Consumer Policy

Fri, 30/06/2017 - 12:35

Consumer policy is already being shaped by a combination of governance models. This position paper argues that complexity-oriented convergence models are a timely addition. Modern day consumer policy is characterized as interactive and integrative, replete with shifting boundaries and coalitions, and evolving roles for each of state, market, and society. This paper focused on governance in the consumer policy arena, arguing that this process needs to acknowledge and reconcile complexity. After describing the basic tenets of complexity theory, two characteristics of contemporary tri-sector interaction (i.e., sector blurring, and sector distortion) were discussed. These boundary characteristics necessitate the need for approaches that can accommodate complexity during consumer policy governance. Three examples of the latter were profiled: sector convergence, network governance, and cross-sector governance. These conceptualizations accommodate the dynamics, complexity, and emergence of contemporary consumer policy governance. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Effects of socio-demographic factors on laundry behaviours in Europe and their implications on sustainability

Thu, 29/06/2017 - 18:40

The continuing rise of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is leading to catastrophic damage in many parts of the world over the coming decades unless GHG emissions can be controlled quickly. The objective of reducing GHG emissions can only be accomplished when all the sectors contributing to GHG emission act responsibly. The contribution of the household to GHG emission was 19.6% in the European Union (EU) in 2013. The energy consumption for laundry washing in the EU, estimated at 24.2 TWh/year, is a substantial share of household energy use. As the use phase of the washing machine is the dominant stage where the environmental impact occurs, this paper addresses some of the EU consumers' washing and drying behaviour in the laundry process. Information on consumers' behaviour regarding the laundry process was collected by a semi-representative survey in eleven EU countries in 2015, including more than 5,000 participants.

The main outcome of the study is that consumers' behaviour regarding the laundry process differs substantially between the EU countries. Moreover, socio-demographic characteristics of households affect the overall sustainability profile of the laundry process. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Consumers' evaluations of the efficiency of actions to improve environmental quality: a comparative study between Brazil and China

Fri, 23/06/2017 - 09:23

There is a gap in our knowledge about environmentally conscious consumers in industrialized economies and the desire to achieve sustainable economies. Given that most aspects of consumer behavior are culture bound, this paper contributes by comparing consumers' evaluations of the efficiency of actions to improve environmental quality in two of the most promising industrializing consumer societies: Brazil and China. The proposed conceptual framework includes environmental concerns, perceived consumer effectiveness, green attitudes, green behaviors, and external motivators as constructs to explain the perception of efficient environmental support. Field research was conducted in Brazil with 1,149 respondents, and in China with 632 respondents to test the model. The results suggested that the belief that environmental quality can be improved is directly associated with consumers' internal and external motivators. However, cultural traits drove important differences in the evaluation of the efficiency of such improvements. Specifically, Chinese people tended to rely on collective leadership to create the conditions necessary for improving environmental quality, while they remained concerned with the current status. In contrast, Brazilians accepted more personal responsibility for the results, although they face important constraints, such as the availability of products. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

“I think the middle class is disappearing”: Crisis perceptions and consumption patterns in Spain

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

The aim of this article is to explore social discourses in Spain on the economic crisis under the scenario of austerity policies and cutbacks. The goal is to explore whether social perceptions have changed throughout the crisis that evolved from the collapse of the housing market bubble to a public deficit and debt problem, leading to record rates of unemployment and a dramatic decline in living standards. The long crisis has left an imprint on Spanish society and it is worthwhile exploring how Spanish citizens reflect upon the crisis. To do so, 18 focus groups were organized in two rounds (2010 and 2014) and the results of those group conversations are discussed and compared here. The analysis shows that the participants elaborated not only on reflections about the crisis and on how it has lowered their consumption levels, but also on their further views about the social structure and change. The notorious pessimism of Spaniards about their future, regardless of their class position, is highlighted in the results. A more critical narrative about the crisis seemed to emerge in 2014, leaving behind the guilt-laden “living beyond our means” discourses that dominated in 2010.

Recomposition and levelling of consumption expenditures across four economic shocks in Russia, 1994–2014

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

The authors examine the changes in the level and composition of consumption expenditures and their associations with household per capita incomes across the four different economic shocks that Russia has experienced since 1994. Data were collected from a nationally representative annual panel survey of households between 1994 and 2014, supplemented by the Federal State Statistics Service source. Four hypotheses on the relationship between per capita income and consumption, the composition of cutbacks, a levelling of expenditures among income groups, and the stability of the pattern of consumer response to economic shocks are proposed. The data demonstrate that consumption expenditures on food, non-food, and services decreased together with per capita income during the four economic shocks. Only a few examples of significant smoothing effects were found. All income groups recomposed their expenditures to maintain consumption of necessities. The high-income group reduced a higher proportion of expenditures on food and services, implying that economic shocks produce a temporary levelling effect on the living standards of different income groups. A relatively stable pattern of consumer responses to economic shocks was revealed, despite these shocks’ divergence; this pattern implies a temporary economization and simplification of expenditures with a fast return to pre-crisis spending once the crisis is over.

Consumption, crisis, and coping strategies of lower class families in Brazil: A sociological account

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

Extant research on the dispositional dimensions of coping strategies emphasizes the personality determinants behind the different ways through which individuals seek to tolerate, minimize, and overcome stressful situations. We offer a sociological complement to this perspective. To do so, we conducted a qualitative inquiry of Brazilian new middle-class consumers who are facing the current economic crisis after having experienced more than a decade of expansion in consumption. We identify five sets of coping strategies through which consumers minimize the effects of the crisis and remain invested in consumer culture. We also demonstrate how such strategies are differently informed by dispositional elements that stem from primary and secondary socializations. We contribute to a sociological account of the shaping of the cognitive, emotional, and social resources individuals deploy to cope with the crisis as well as with an empirical account of the lived effects of current Brazilian crisis.

Beyond the market—New practices of supply in times of crisis: The example community-supported agriculture

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

The discourses and material consequences of the crisis dynamics of capitalist societies increasingly spawn practices of production and supply that are situated outside capitalist market logic. One example of such an alternative practice is Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), a social innovation that is comprehensively analyzed here in the German context. Applying the concept of social innovation, the authors carried out a standardized survey, semi-structured interviews and a discourse analysis of CSA farms in Germany. This paper identifies the (international) crisis discourses to which Community-Supported Agriculture is a reaction, and the motivations of CSA members are outlined. Innovative facets of CSA such as solidarity, de-commodification, and prosuming are identified. It becomes apparent that Community-Supported Agriculture is not a homogeneous phenomenon, but can be differentiated into various types ? sociopolitical, spiritual-communal, and pragmatic-economic - which differ in respect of how they express (social) innovation as well as in their attitudes to crises.

De-ownership orientation and collaborative consumption during turbulent economic times

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

In this article we aim to increase understanding of which social factors are central when looking at de-ownership orientation (DOO), collaborative consumption attitudes (CCA) and collaborative consumption intentions (CCI). In addition, we analyze how DOO, CCA and CCI are linked to each other. We scrutinize DOO, CCA and CCI in Finland during a period of economic crisis. Our results show that DOO is rather evenly spread across the socio-demographic groups, and that CCA is at a much higher level than CCI among the respondents. CCA is less impacted by factors that originate from a consumer's social and economic conditions. The studied concepts are found to be closely associated: with the increase in DOO, the propensity for CCI and CCA to increase also grows. However, DOO has a stronger effect on CCA than on CCI. Of studied socio-economic features, age clearly has the strongest effects on each studied factor. The younger age cohorts have more positive attitudes towards collaborative consumption than others. In terms of employment status the groups that are the most positive towards collaborative consumption are those staying at home on parental leave, whereas the retired, entrepreneurs (for CCI) and unemployed (for CCA) have the least inclination towards collaborative consumption. Thus, economic crisis can be seen as working against the development of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption, or at least it could create social divisions between groups who take part in it.

Coping with crises: Consumption and social resilience on markets

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

Crises, especially economic crises are an immanent element of modern market societies. While some research has been devoted to understanding the consequences of such crises on consumption, a systematic integrative approach to this problem is still missing. In this editorial we develop an encompassing model for the study of crises and consumption, to identify and connect the different elements important for understanding and explaining the relationship. Thereafter we present the papers of this special issue and discuss their contributions, based on the proposed framework. Suggestions for future research conclude the editorial.

Resilient practices of consumption in times of crisis—Biographical interviews with members of vulnerable households in Germany

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

This article analyzes the impact of different consumption patterns that are used to counteract economic hardship and to mitigate the effects of such hardship in times of crisis in Germany. We focus on resilient socioeconomic practices, such as the development of formal or informal practices of consumption, production, and saving. We develop a critical approach of social resilience that is combined with the idea of a bricolage (Levi-Strauss, 1962) of “mixed economy” practices (Malcolmson, 1988). This is done by demonstrating the relevance of preconditions for resilient practices. Based on an analysis of in-depth biographical interviews, two main types of resilient consumption practices and strategies of those who experience economic hardship are identified. First, saving, as the predominant practice, includes buying low-priced items at discount stores, taking advantage of the offerings of charity organisations, and reducing expenditures overall. Second, home production consists of subsistence farming or do-it-yourself activities for personal use or bartering. In this context, particular attention is paid to the reactivation of traditional noncommodified practices, such as the nonmonetary (mutual) exchange of goods and services within social networks, and the reactivation of previously undervalued knowledge that results in new spheres of production. We conclude by discussing the relevance of preconditions and consequences—as well as the demands and personal costs—of the resilient practices used.

Antecedents of consumer price consciousness in a turbulent economy

Wed, 21/06/2017 - 02:51

Major economic crises create financial and normative stressors, affecting consumers long after economies technically leave recession. Consumer adaptations to these stressors challenge researchers’ and marketers’ assumptions of well-established concepts and theories, notably consumer price consciousness (CPC). We examine this pivotal marketing construct within the domains of stress and coping during times of economic turbulence. In this paper, the authors develop and test a conceptual model, then present implications for consumer researchers, brand marketers, and retailers. The model focuses on the relationships between changing CPC and major economic and normative stressors, respectively financial well-being and frugality norms. To inform opportunities for specific interventions, we identify mediating roles of consumer anticipated guilt, financial fear, and smart shopper self-perception. SEM and mediation analysis test this model, based on a national survey of 1202 UK consumers. The results identify stressors that influence changing CPC, following fundamental shifts in consumer psychology and behaviour since recession. Each antecedent of CPC presents opportunities for marketers and retailers to defend or adapt brands to the challenges and opportunities presented by more price conscious consumers.

Consumer vulnerability and complaint handling: Challenges, opportunities and dispute system design

Mon, 05/06/2017 - 12:10

Effectively designed complaint handling systems play a key role in enabling vulnerable consumers to complain and obtain redress. This article examines current research into consumer vulnerability, highlighting its multidimensional and expansive nature. Contemporary understandings of consumer vulnerability recognise that the interaction between a wide range of market and consumer characteristics can combine to place any individual at risk of vulnerability. While this broad definition of consumer vulnerability reflects the complex reality of consumers' experiences, it poses a key challenge for designers of complaint handling systems: how can they identify and respond to an issue which can potentially affect everyone?

Drawing on current research and practice in the UK and Australia, the article analyses the impact of consumer vulnerability on third party dispute resolution schemes and considers the role these complaint handling organisations can play in supporting their complainants. Third party complaint handling organisations, including a range of Alternative Dispute Resolution services such as ombudsman organisations, can play a key role in increasing access to justice for vulnerable consumer groups and provide specific assistance for individual complainants during the process.

It is an opportune time to review whether the needs of consumers at risk of vulnerability are being met within complaint processes and the extent to which third party complaint handlers support those who are most vulnerable to seek redress. Empowering vulnerable consumers to complain presents specific challenges. The article discusses the application of a new model of consumer dispute system design to show how complaint handling organisations can meet the needs of the most vulnerable consumers throughout the process. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Use of microcredit for household income and consumption smoothing by low income communities

Mon, 05/06/2017 - 11:45

This paper discusses findings of a study that investigated income, savings and consumption patterns of low income people, and critical factors that influence the use of microcredit- a form of small instant loans targeted for low income people- for household income and consumption smoothing. The sample of the study consisted of households from low income communities living in a lower-middle income country- Sri Lanka. It was found that microcredit borrowers were using the loans for purposes that can be identified as income and consumption smoothing, which is beyond the ideas and intended practice of microcredit. The findings suggests that the consequences of using microcredit for income and consumption smoothing could be costly for households and the society at large. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Consumers' perceptions of food waste: A pilot study of US students

Mon, 05/06/2017 - 11:40

Participants in this pilot study are asked to rank their perceptions of food waste by choosing between pairs of four types of foods of equal weight: chicken, cheese, bread and peas. We examine whether these perceptions are consistent for proportionally different weights and whether they are linked to the perceived cost of the items. The subjects (n=106) who are students are randomly assigned to one of three information treatments: a control, a food waste video, or the text of the food waste video. We find that the subjects have very accurate perceptions of the environmental impacts of food waste and the relative wastefulness of different food groups. These perceptions are not related to cooking skills or frequency. We find that the perceptions are consistent for proportionally different weights of food: 25g and 50g. We also find that the perceptions are linked to participants' assessments of the relative prices of the foods. However, while the participants have somewhat accurate estimates of the relative prices, they vastly overestimate the actual prices of foods. This implies that more accurate information about the true prices could actually decrease their perceptions of the wastefulness of throwing out food. Given that the participants had highly accurate perceptions of the environmental impacts of food waste and the relative wastefulness of animal versus plant products, we found no significant increase in overall accuracy of perceptions due to information treatment, except for bread, for those who saw the food waste video. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Carbon information on vegetables: How does it affect the buying process?

Mon, 05/06/2017 - 11:00

Information on the climate impact of a food product has practically not been communicated in Germany, even though it could provide important acknowledgement of producers' actions in low-carbon production. So far, carbon labelling has predominantly been discussed without taking into account German consumers' opinions (proven by empirical data) on this issue, even though involving the consumer in the considerations of a Carbon Label is essential for its success. Especially the question, if information on the product carbon footprint is a considerable factor within the search process of a purchase decision, was of special interest in this work.

To answer these questions, we analyzed consumers' information-seeking behavior using an information display matrix (IDM) experiment with 232 participants. The IDM is a process tracing technique which allows to track the information search in a buying process.

Our results show that basically the place of origin is the most important criterion for the purchase decision, followed by price and production method (conventional/organic). In contrast, the sustainability information (i.e., carbon footprint and water consumption) are at a low level of importance.

Comparing two locally produced products with the help of a multinominal logistic regression (MLR)-model, it seems that the group of consumers preferring organic products is influenced in the purchase decision by the carbon footprint information.

In summary it can be stated that although some people may be basically interested in carbon labelling of fresh food, the purchase decision would probably be hardly influenced by a carbon label on vegetables at present. The majority of people are more concerned about factors like origin and price so that Carbon Labelling would only be a viable option for a small group of consumers.. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Jingle Bells or ‘Green’ Bells? The Impact of Socially Responsible Consumption Principles upon Consumer Behavior at Christmas Time

Tue, 30/05/2017 - 19:25

Socially responsible consumption (SRC) behaviors have progressed over the last few years and appear to show signs of a lasting trend. Situations of atypical consumption such as Christmas time, however, raise an important and as of yet unexplored question: What are the influences of unusual situations upon the relationship between people's socially responsible profile and their socially responsible purchase intentions? The objective of this article is thus to use the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) and environment-based variables, called “atmospherics”, to answer to this question. A Web survey on a total sample of 301 Canadian consumers, shows that people's past SRC behaviors are positively related to their socially responsible purchase intentions in unusual situations. Moreover the atmosphere of the place consumers are situated in has a negative moderating influence upon this relationship. This result is explained by a change in people's attitude towards SRC. However, this negative moderating effect of atmosphere is contained and constrained by social desirability in the form of subjective norms on SRC and the level of behavioural control consumers perceive. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Gender, generation, and sustainable consumption: Exploring the behavior of turkish consumers

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 14:19

This study investigates the relationship between consumers' sustainable consumption behavior and both gender and generation-related individual differences in a sample of Turkish consumers. 393 participants from different generations and gender took part in the study. To measure sustainable consumption behavior, we used four-dimensional Sustainable Consumption Behavior scale. The results showed that generation is associated with unneeded consumption as a dimension of sustainable consumption behavior. Consumers who are Baby Boomers found to have the highest level of unneeded consumption behavior while Gen-Zers have fewest. Additionally, data supported the association between gender and sustainable consumption behavior. Women showed a higher level of sustainable consumption behavior both in overall behavior and tendency to reuse products. Taken together, the findings suggest that gender and generation of consumers can differentiate sustainable consumption behavior. The implications of these findings, as well as the limitations and future directions, are also discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Green apparel buying behaviour: A study on Indian youth

Wed, 03/05/2017 - 13:01

Changes in demographics and availability of global clothing brands have brought several changes in Indian apparel industry. Green or organic clothing brands are becoming popular among Indians and likely to contribute to the revenues of apparel sector. Global and national apparel manufacturers have introduced organic clothing lines to cater to ecological conscious consumers. The purpose of this research was to examine the effect of consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence (CSII), past green behaviour, green peer influence, and green apparel knowledge on Indian youth's green apparel buying behaviour. A mix of convenience and random sampling was used for data collection. The sample (n = 981) comprised of youth of age group 18-24 years. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized relationships. Findings suggest that past green behaviour influenced green apparel buying behaviour. Green peer influence and green apparel knowledge had no impact on green apparel buying behaviour. Moreover, CSII had no influence on green apparel buying behaviour. The findings differ from earlier studies that suggest influence of social norms and peer group had an effect on green buying behaviour. Practical implications of the present study are discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.