This study applies functional theories of attitudes to suggest how distinct needs of the private, public, and collective facets of self may differently guide green consumer behavior in the pursuit of value-expressive, social-approval, and social-identification needs and how this may have implications for whether interest in purchasing eco-friendly products leads to action or stops short at desire. In particular, it examines how advertising manipulated to increase the relative salience of these needs alters how they each relate to purchase intention and willingness to pay for an eco-friendly product. The findings revealed that when the product was positioned as aiding in the expression of environmental concern, value-expressive needs motivated greater purchase intention and willingness to pay; however, when the product was positioned as aiding in self-enhancement, social-approval needs motivated greater purchase intention but not willingness to pay. Conversely, when the product was positioned as aiding in identification, social-identification needs did not motivate either outcome. This provides evidence that targeting more internalized sources of motivation (i.e., environmental concern) is an effective strategy for increasing both desire and action, whereas targeting less internalized sources of motivation (i.e., self-enhancement needs) may increase desire but is not sufficient to overcome the higher cost of eco-friendly products as a barrier to actual purchase. This study has important implications for identifying best practices for the development of social marketing, activist, and advertising campaigns that will more effectively promote environmental action at the checkout line.
- attitude functions
- conscious consumption motivations
- green consumer behavior
- purchase intention
- willingness to pay