Buying Green? Field Experimental Tests of Consumer Support for Environmentalism
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science
Michael J. Hiscox
May 18, 2012
MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-14
Surveys indicate that a majority of consumers would prefer to buy products made in environmentally sustainable ways, rather than alternatives, and would even be willing to pay a premium for such products. Many firms are now using environmental certifications and product labeling to market goods and services, but there is no clear evidence that environmentalism has a strong impact on actual purchasing decisions by consumers. We provide new evidence on consumer behavior from two large-scale field experiments conducted with Gap Inc. in 419 retail stores and 155 outlet stores. We find that labels with information about a program to reduce water pollution in facilities laundering denim jeans as part of the manufacturing process had a substantial positive effect on sales among female shoppers in retail stores, increasing sales by 8%. Among male shoppers and in outlet stores, however, the labels had no discernable impact on sales.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: environmentalism, consumer behaviour, field experiments
JEL Classification: D12, C93working papers series
Date posted: May 18, 2012 ; Last revised: June 14, 2012
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