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Sustainable Food Consumption: Exploring the Consumer “Attitude – Behavioral Intention” Gap


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Although public interest in sustainability increases and consumer attitudes are mainly positive, behavioral patterns are not univocally consistent with attitudes. This study investigates the presumed gap between favorable attitude towards sustainable behavior and behavioral intention to purchase sustainable food products. The impact of involvement, perceived availability, certainty, perceived consumer effectiveness (PCE), values, and social norms on consumers’ attitudes and intentions towards sustainable food products is analyzed. The empirical research builds on a survey with a sample of 456 young consumers, using a questionnaire and an experimental design with manipulation of key constructs through showing advertisements for sustainable dairy. Involvement with sustainability, certainty, and PCE have a significant positive impact on attitude towards buying sustainable dairy products, which in turn correlates strongly with intention to buy. Low perceived availability of sustainable products explains why intentions to buy remain low, although attitudes might be positive. On the reverse side, experiencing social pressure from peers (social norm) explains intentions to buy, despite rather negative personal attitudes. This study shows that more sustainable and ethical food consumption can be stimulated through raising involvement, PCE, certainty, social norms, and perceived availability.
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(Accepted in revised form September 22, 2005)
ABSTRACT. Although public interest in sustainability increases and consumer
attitudes are mainly positive, behavioral patterns are not univocally consistent with
attitudes. This study investigates the presumed gap between favorable attitude to-
wards sustainable behavior and behavioral intention to purchase sustainable food
products. The impact of involvement, perceived availability, certainty, perceived
consumer effectiveness (PCE), values, and social norms on consumers’ attitudes and
intentions towards sustainable food products is analyzed. The empirical research
builds on a survey with a sample of 456 young consumers, using a questionnaire and
an experimental design with manipulation of key constructs through showing
advertisements for sustainable dairy. Involvement with sustainability, certainty, and
PCE have a significant positive impact on attitude towards buying sustainable dairy
products, which in turn correlates strongly with intention to buy. Low perceived
availability of sustainable products explains why intentions to buy remain low, al-
though attitudes might be positive. On the reverse side, experiencing social pressure
from peers (social norm) explains intentions to buy, despite rather negative personal
attitudes. This study shows that more sustainable and ethical food consumption can
be stimulated through raising involvement, PCE, certainty, social norms, and per-
ceived availability.
KEY WORDS: attitude, behavior, consumer, food, sustainable consumption
In the wake of the series of crises within the European agro-food system,
culminating in BSE, dioxin, and foot and mouth disease, the general public
in Europe became increasingly critical about food quality and safety (Jensen
and Sandoe, 2002; Grunert, 2005; Verbeke, 2005). Also, interest in sus-
tainability, sustainable production, and sustainable consumpt ion has in-
creased at all levels of the agriculture and food chain. Achieving sustainable
development includes strategies to achieve economic (profit), social (people),
and environmental (planet) goals (World Bank, 2003). Sustainable products
are products that contribute through their attributes and consequences
to one or a combination of these aspects (Reheul et al., 2001). The economic
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (2006) 19:169–194
DOI 10.1007/s10806-005-5485-3 Ó Springer 2006
aspect has first of all to do with a fair price for the agricultural producers
and affor dable consumer prices. The ecological component involves care for
the natural environment and livestock production conditions, the living
environment in general, and the quality of life for humans. The ecological
component refers to sustainability in the strict sense of preserving the
environment and sustainable use and management of natural resources. The
social component fina lly concerns an integ ration of agriculture in the pri-
orities and needs of the society/citizens and an appreciation and support for
the agro-food sector from the society as well as from government (a sus-
tainability-supporting policy).
Sustainable consumption is based on a decision-making process that
takes the consumer’s social responsibility into account in addition to indi-
vidual needs and wants (Meulenberg, 2003). Everyday consumption prac-
tices are still heavily driven by convenience, habit, value for money, personal
health concerns, hedonism, and individual responses to social and institu-
tional norms (FSA, 2000; IGD, 2002a, 2002b; SDC, 2003), and, most
importantly, they are likely to be resistant to chan ge. Yet, the diversity and
complexity of the motivations involved means that in reality there is a
considerable scope for change. An important driver for change, particularly
with respect to sustainability concerns, is the tendency towards reflexivity
within a post-modern society, whereby society and its individuals actively
reflect upon existing cultural norms. The reflexive consumer (Giddens, 1991)
makes his own individualized risk assessment (Dupuis, 2000), but is not
necessarily a social activist. Dupuis (2000) argues that food is a particu larly
important focus for reflexive consumers, since food consumption is a
negotiation about what a person will, and will not, let into his or her body.
Furthermore, in the past 10 years, the ethical consumer emerged who per-
ceives a more direct link between what is consumed and the social issue
itself. This kind of consumerism mainly incorporates environmental issues
but also extends to animal welfar e, human rights, and labor working con-
ditions in the third world (Tallontire et al., 2001). In general, the ethical
consumer feels responsible towards society and expresses these feelings by
means of his purchase behavior (De Pelsmacker et al., 2003). Note that the
reflexive consumer is not per definition an ethical consumer. The ethical
consumer reflects specifically upon ethical consequences of his or her
behavior, while the reflexive consumer is involved with more general cultural
Practice, however, shows that initiatives like sustainable organic food,
products free from child labor, legally logged wood, and fair -trade products
often have market shares of less than 1% (MacGillivray, 2000). This is at
least partly due to the attitude-behavior gap: attitudes alone are often a poor
predictor of behavioral intention or marketplace behavior (Kraus, 1995;
Ajzen, 2001). Potential explanations are that price, quality, convenience,
and brand familiarity are still the most important decision criteria (Carrigan
and Attalla, 2001; Weatherell et al., 2003), while ethical factors are only
effectively taken into account by a minority of consumers. Hence, although
consumer interest in sustainable products may be growing, sustainable food
markets remain niche markets, attracting consumers with a specific profile.
In general, the ethical consumer is a middle-aged person with a higher
income, who is above average educated, with a prestigious occupation and
who is well-informed (Roberts, 1996; Carrigan and Attalla, 2001; Maignan
and Ferrel, 2001). Gender does not seem to influence ethical decision-
making (Tsalikis and Ortis-Buonafina, 1990; Sikula and Costa, 1994;
MORI, 2000). Roberts (1995), and Diamantopoulos et al. (2003) concluded
that demographics alone that are often used as the main market seg-
mentation variables are not very significant in defining the socially
responsible consumer because ethical concern and awareness have become
widespread. Roberts (1996) stresses the importance of variables such as
relevant attitudes, behavioral, and personality characteristics to identify the
possible ethical consumer. A recent study on purchase intentions towards
sustainable foods also showed that psychosocial variables like attitudes,
beliefs, and subjective norms,
more than demographics, independently
predict purchase intention for sustainable products (Robinson and Smith,
Despite several studies reporting on barriers and consumer profiles, there
is a gap in thorough understanding of consumer decision-making towards
sustainable food consumption. Hence, the objective of the present study is
first, to investigate the attitude behavioral intention ga p that often occurs,
and second, which factors influence the intention of purchasing sustainable
food. We start from the premise that positive attitudes towards buying
sustainable food products are not necessarily followed by positive inten-
tions, in contrast with the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen and Fishbein,
1974). The validity of this theory of reasoned action has yet been debated in
the specific case of food products (e.g., Kokkinaki and Lunt, 1997). We
explore the role of several individual characteristics, like involvement, per-
ceptions, and values, that could explain sustainable consumption patterns in
general and the attitude behavioral intention gap in particular. The final
aim is to formulate recommendations for stimulating sustainable food
consumption among specific consumer segments. Since it is important to
convey messages appealing to consumer attitudes and beliefs about sus-
tainable foods, rather than to specific predetermined socio-demographic
Subjective norms are conceptualized in terms of the pressure that people perceive from
important other people to perform or not to perform a specific behavior.
segments (Robinson and Smith, 2002), our results can assist in future atti-
tude-targeted public or private communication efforts to effectively stimu-
late more sustainable food consumption.
The consumer behavior model introduced by Jager (2000) serves as the basis
for a conceptual framework to investigate consumer behavioral intention
towards sustainable food products. The three main determinants of
behavioral intention with relevance to sustainable consumption are values,
needs, and motivations, information and knowledge, and behavioral control
(see Figure 1). In this specific study, we investigate involvement and values
(‘‘values, needs, and motivations’’), uncertainty (‘‘information and knowl-
edge’’), and perceived availab ility and perceived consumer effectiveness
(‘‘behavioral control’’), on the attitude behavioral intention gap, respec-
2.1. Decision-Making: Attitude and Consumption Behavior
A positive attitude towards sustainable products is a good starting point to
stimulate sustainable consumption. Several studies concentrated on atti-
tudes towards sustainability and sustainable consumption behavior
(Shamdasani et al., 1993; Shrum et al., 1995; Verbeke and Viaene, 1999;
Chan, 2001; Bisonette and Contento, 2001; De Pelsmacker et al., 2003;
Gordier, 2003; Tanner and Kast, 2003). In general, about 30% of the
Personal values,
needs, and motivation
Values, Social norms
Information and
Behavioral control
ndividual and situational
Figure 1. Conceptual framework used to investigate consumer behavior towards
sustainable food products Top level: adapted consumer behavior model from
Jager (2000); Second level: constructs included in the empirical study; Bold face
indicates manipulated constructs in the research design
consumers have a positive attitude towards sustainable consumption (as
defined by Reheul et al., 2001). These consumers claim to pay attention to
ecological packaging, the origin of the food products, or the absence of
genetically modified organisms, and regula rly buy sustainable organic food
products. They perceive sustainable products to be better with respect to
taste, quality, safety, and freshness, and to be more beneficial with respect to
human health, the environment, and regiona l econ omies. A more negative
attitude is found for the attributes price, appearance, convenience, and
conservation. However, although people may have a positive attitude, they
are largely passive in their role as consumer when it comes to supporting
environmental or animal welfare improvements with their available budget
(e.g., Grunert and Juhl, 1995).
Different explanations can be suggested for the gap between the positive
attitude of consumers and their actual purchase beh avior. For example,
behavior based on habit or situational factors like promotions can account
for the low market share of sustainable products (Minteer et al., 2004). Also,
several other individual or situational characteristics could be put forward
to explain this gap. Examples are values, knowledge, and perceived
behavioral control (Jager, 2000). Consumer purchasing decisions often
incorporate a complex variety of motivations that complicates an under-
standing of particular instances. Specific attitudes may suggest a specific
behavior when taken in isolation, but this may not be the case when con-
sidering the broader purchase decision. Additional attitudes come into play,
moderating behavior, diluting the impact of initial attitudes, and resulting in
an alternative outcome.
2.2. Personal Values, Needs, Motivations, and Involvement
Human values are referred to as relatively stable beliefs about the personal
or social desirability of certain behaviors and modes of existence. Values
express the goals/needs that motivate peop le and app ropriate ways to attain
these goals/needs. Values can play an important role in the consumer
decision process, like product choice and brand choice (Burgess, 1992; Engel
et al., 1995). For example, people who adhere to the value ‘‘universalism’’
(see Appendix 1) may be motivated to protect the environment and there-
fore buy environmentally safe products. Values motivate action, giving it
direction and emotio nal intensity (Schwartz, 1994). For instance, Vitell et al.
(2001) found that consumers are more guided by principles or values
(deontology) than by consequences (teleology) when making ethical deci-
sions. Consumers rated unethical behavior as unethical regardless of whe-
ther this behavior had positive (e.g., using an expired coupon) or negative
(e.g., switching price tags) consequences for the consumer. In the same
manner, consequences of ethical behavior (either positive, e.g., cashier
mistake, or negative, e.g., copying software) were not considered in ethical
decisions, instead, consumers based their decision on the ethical value of the
behavior itself (either ethical or unethical).
Involvement or perceived personal importance is a specific kind of
motivation. Involvement is activated when a product, service, or promo-
tional message is perceived as instrumental in meeting important needs,
goals, and values. The object is important to the self because it addresses
important values and goals in people’s life. People are motivated to invest
cognitive effort in a decision-making process when they are highly involved,
for example, because an important personal need is not satisfied, while
habitual behavior occurs when consumers have low motivation (i.e., low
involvement) due to satisfied needs (Jager, 2000). Involvement influences the
extensiveness of information search, the length of the decision-making
process, formation of beliefs, attitudes and intentions, as well as behavioral
outcomes, such as variety seeking behavior, brand-switching behavior,
brand-commitment or loyalty, frequency of product usage, and shopping
enjoyment (Beharrel and Dennison, 1995; Verbeke and Vackier, 2004).
Numerous studies have linked ethical or sustainable behavior to personal
values (see Vermeir and Verbeke (2004) for an overview). In general, the
values universalism, benevolence, self-direction, honesty, idealism
, equality,
freedom, and responsibility have been linked to sustainable consumption,
whereas power, hedonism, tradition, security, conformity, and ambition
were associated with less ethical or less sustainable consumption patterns
(for an explanation of the values following Schwartz (1992), see Appendix
1). The confirmation of a causal relation between some values, like uni-
versalism, and a susta inable consumption pattern implies that promoting
the right values through socialization and national institutions can facili-
tate the achievement of the long-run goal of sustainable consumption
(Thogersen, 2001). However, Thogersen (2001) also argues that in the short
run, the extent of sustainable behavior depends much more on specific
factors, such as habits, specific attitudes, and prefer ences and on opportu-
nities to engage in sustainable consumption.
2.3. Information, Knowledge, and Uncer tainty
Access to clear and reliable information is an important factor in the pur-
chase decision process. Studies show that few consumers have a high
awareness or comprehension of the real sustainable characteristics of
products. The benefits of sustainable products are often poorly communi-
Idealism is the degree to which individuals assume that desirable consequences from specific
behaviors can, with the right actions, always be obtained (Forsyth, 1981).
cated to consumers, so that they are unable to make informed purchasing
decisions in accordance with their budget and/or conscience. Furthermore,
consumers often have limited knowledge of agriculture and its production
processes and a lack of insight into the implications of their food purchase
decisions on the food supply chain (Dickson, 2 001; Verbeke, 2005). The less
information available and/or the more complex and contradictory this
information is, the more uncertain consumers may be regarding what
products to choose. A related issue is that sustainability is a credence
attribute, which means that consumers cannot evaluate it personally, though
have to put trust in the source that claims sustainability. Uncertainty can
lead to the use of social information, which means that consumers will look
at other people to get an indication of the best outcome. One way of pro-
viding information is through product labeling. However, Verbeke and
Viaene (1999) and Verbeke and Ward (2006) found a large contrast between
consumer’s subjective knowledge and perception of labels versus the exact
labeled beef features. In addition, research about the awareness of sus-
tainable labels in general and a specific fair-trade, organic label (Gordier,
2003) and sustainable fruit labels (Vannoppen et al., 2002) revealed that
both unaided and aided consumer awareness were very low.
2.4. Behavioral Control, Availability and Perceived Consumer Effectiveness
The third potential determinant of consumer decision-making pertains to
the availability of sustainable products, which is relat ed to consumer’s
behavioral control. Behavioral control refers to the ease or difficulty of
obtaining or consuming a specific prod uct. Although the motivation to
consume sustainable products is high, it may be impossible to do so because
of low availability. This problem is related to the scarcity of local food shops
or farmers’ markets, which often lack the regularity, and convenience de-
manded by consumers. In addition, ethical products often have limited
availability, and are not really visible in the shop, and/or are inadequately
promoted (De Pelsmacker et al., 2003). Recent research shows that 52% of
consumers were interested in purchasing ‘‘earth-sustainabl e’’ foods, but did
not purchase those foods owing to the perceived barriers of lack of avail-
ability, followed by inconvenience and price (Robinson and Smith, 2002).
Another aspect related to behaviora l control is the perceived consumer
effectiveness (PCE), which is the extent to which the consumer believes that
his personal efforts can contribute to the solution of a problem. High PCE is
necessary to evoke consumers to translate their positive attitudes into actual
purchase (Ellen et al., 1991; Berger and Corbin, 1992; Roberts, 1996; Lee
and Holden, 1999). Roberts (1996) suggests that in order to motivate
behavioral changes, consumers must be convinced that their behavior has an
impact on, for example, the environment or will be effective in fighting
environmental degradation or social inequality.
3.1. Study Objectives and Design
The objective of the study is, first, to gain a better insight into sustainable
consumption and the influ ence of several individual characteristics on the
attitude and behavioral intention towards purchasing sustainable products.
The aim is to assess wheth er consumers with a high (versus low) level of a
specific individual characteristic have a different attitude and behavioral
intention towards sustainable products. Second, we investigate whether
consumers’ level of four individual characteristics, namely involvement,
certainty, perceived availability, and PCE, can be influenced by information
provision or communication. Respondents were subjected to a specific
condition (see further) that resulted in either a low or a high level of the
particular individual characteristic.
Where possible, manipulations were used instead of measuring the
existing levels of the variables for several reasons. First, manipulations of
constructs provide a better way to derive consequences (Iacobucci, 2001).
Second, fairly equal groups were needed to ascertain the influence of the
constructs on attitudes and behavioral intention. If we measured existing
levels of involvement, for example, chances are that a considerable number
of the respondents would be rather less involved in regards to sustainable
consumption (cf. Dickson, 2001), while few respondents were highly in-
volved. Third, if these individual charact eristics associate with sustainable
consumption, it is important to be able to manipulate them in order to
increase sustainable behavior, for instance through future communications.
Values and social norms were measured (not manipulated) because
values and social norms are inherent in each person and are almost
impossible to change or manipulate, especially in the short term. Values and
social norms are deep-seated ideas and motivations that are relatively stable
over a consumer’s life span. Social norms were specifically included because
of their function as a determinant of behavioral intentions in the theory of
reasoned action, and because previous research has shown that social norms
influence behaviora l intention towards sustainable products (Robinson and
Smith, 2002). Identifying values or social norms that are associated with
high/low sustainable consumption could help us explain why some con-
sumers are (un)willing to invest in a sustainable future, hence providing
policy makers with the necessary information about which values/social
norms to express in their communications.
3.2. Materials
Previous research showed that consumers become more involved with a
product or service when the personal consequences are highlighted and the
importance of the product is emphasized (cf. Engel et al., 1995). Conse-
quently, we manipulated involv ement by presenting half of the respondents
an article describing the potential benefits of sustainable products for the
consumer (e.g., safety, health, taste, and quality), the environment (e.g., less
pollution), and the society (e.g., lower unemployment, fair trade). The other
respondents received an article that was similar as far as length, writing
style, and difficulty but discussed a tourist national park. The aim was that
respondents who read the article about sustainability would become more
involved in regard to the subject, while the other respondents retain their
inherent (i.e., predominantly low, cf. Dickson, 2001) involvement level in
regards to sustainability.
To manipulate perceived availability, certainty, an d PCE, three infor-
mational messages that respectively stress the availability, certainty, and
PCE of sustainable products were constructed. The case of organic dairy
products with the fictive brand name ‘‘Le Fermier’’ was used. Dairy prod-
ucts were chosen because they are one of the most frequently purchased
organic products (Cera-foundation, 2001). In the ‘‘high availability’’ mes-
sage, respondents were informed that Le Fermier products are widely
available, while websites and free phone numbers were provided to check for
the nearest-by selling point of Le Fermier products. In the ‘‘high certainty’’
message two existing, well known labels were shown one organic and one
social label that supposedly provide the consumer with certainty that
Le Fermier products are indeed ecologically and socially sound . The ‘‘high
PCE’’ message contained a short statement that informed the respondents
that they can contribute to a better world by reacting to unfair or unsus-
tainable actions. An example was given where pressure exerted by con-
sumers led to better prices and working conditions for Chiquita banana
growers in Latin America. Finally, a ‘‘control’ ’ message was created wher e
no information about availability, certainty, and PCE was provided.
Existing scales for measuring involvement and PCE (Roberts, 1996) were
used. A scale to test the perceived availability (three items) of Le Fermier
products was constructed. For example, respondents had to indicate on a 7-
point scale to what degree they thought that Le Fermier products are easy to
find in their neighborhood. In order to assess certainty, respondents were
asked to indicate how certain they were about 5 items on a 6-point scale
(e.g., ‘‘How certain are you that Le Fermier products are ecologically and
socially sound?’’). Social norms were measured with the scale previously
used by Verbeke and Vackier (2004)
in the theory of planned behavior. The
Schwartz list of values (1992) was used to determine consumer values (See
appendix for scale items and definitions). Finally, attitudes toward (buying)
Le Fermier products and behavioral intentions were determined by using
existing classical scales.
3.3. Data Collection
The sample for this study consisted of 456 youngsters following higher
education in the age group 19–22 drawn from the population of Flanders,
Belgium. The rationale for focusing on this population is threefold. First, we
chose this uniform group because we wanted to rule out possible interfer-
ence from classical socio-demographic variables like age, income, or social
class. Previous research discovered that age, income, and social class influ-
ence attitude and behavioral intention in regards to sustainable consump-
tion (e.g., Roberts, 1996). Second, youngsters constitute the consumers of
the future, who should be capable of making a difference in the next half-
They are likely to take their habits into their older age and
therefore provide policy makers with ample possibilities to create sustain-
able food consumption habits within the population. Third, we deliberately
chose higher educated youngsters because they supposedly have some
awareness on the concept of sustainability. If respondents do not know the
concept of sustainability, attitudes (positiv e or negative) and behavioral
intentions (high or low) might be non-existing, making it impossible to
categorize respondents according to their attitude/behavior al intention.
Furthermore, it would be quite difficult for lay peo ple to answer the ques-
tions about perceived availability, certainty, and PCE in the case of sus-
tainable products.
The questionnaire consisted of one text (increasing involvement or
neutral text), one infor mational message (control or one that either stimu-
lates perceived availability, certainty, or PCE), and numerous items to be
scored on interval scales. In addition, questions about gender, place of
residence, and awareness of sustainable aspects of food consumption were
included. Respondents first answered the demographic and awareness
This multi-item 7-point interval scale assesses respondent’s agreement on statements like
‘‘My family/friends/partner think(s) that I should eat/buy sustainable dairy products’’ and
‘‘Government/doctors and nutritionists/the food industry stimulate(s) me to eat/buy sustainable
dairy products.’’
An anonymous referee remarked that there is potential bias because students may not buy
food for themselves, or may not see themselves efficaciously able to buy for themselves, and
hence rarely even think of sustainability issues except in the far-off abstract. This potential bias
was limited through focusing on attitude and behavioral intention, instead of on real market-
place behavior which some students indeed may not have and through including perceived
consumer effectiveness as a potential determinant of attitude and behavioral intention.
questions and completed the Schwartz value questionnaire. Next, respon-
dents were instructed to carefully read the magazine article about sustain-
able consumption or the text about a tourist national park, and to complete
the involvement questions. Finally, one of the four informational messages
for Le Fermier dairy products was shown and the respondents were in-
structed to complete the questions dealing with attitude, behavior, certainty,
availability, social norms, and PCE. The different versions of the informa-
tional message were randomly assigned to the respondents. Each message
was shown to an equal number of respondents.
4.1. Construct Validity and Descriptive Statistics
Data analysis methods include ANOVA
and correlation analyses. Pre-
liminary construct reli ability checks showed that all constructs displayed
ample reliability with Cronbach’s alpha exceeding 0.60 for all scales
(Table 1). First, we tested whether our manipulations of involvement, per-
ceived availability, certainty, and PCE led to heightened levels of the indi-
vidual variables. Consumers who read the high involvement text about
sustainable consumption were afterwards effectively more involved with
sustainable consumption compared to consumers who read the text about
the tourist national park (p<0.05). Furthermore, consumers who received
the message that shou ld enhance the perception of availability, reported a
higher level of perceived availability compared to consumers who received
other messages (p<0.001). Contrary to our expectations, consumers who
received the messages that should have stimulated PCE and certainty, did
not report a high er PCE and certainty compared to consumers who received
the other messages. This indicates that our manipulations of PCE and
certainty did not work as intended.
Next, consumers where classified as either high or low on a particular
individual characteristic. A similar procedure was applied to the Schwartz
value types. Note that we only describe those Schwartz values that triggered
significant results, more specifically, universalism and power. Mean atti-
tudes towards buying Le Fermier products were 5.09, while mean behavioral
intentions were 4.19, both on a 7-point scale. The correlation between
attitude towards sustainable consumption and behavioral intentions is
strongly positive (r=0.67, p<0.001). Mean levels for the individual
Analysis of Variance is a statistical technique for examining the differences among means
for two or more populations. A F statistic tests for the null hypothesis that the category means
are equal in the population. The p-value indicates the probability of rejecting a null hypothesis
that is in fact true, i.e., concluding that the means are different whereas they are in fact equal.
characteristics were the following: involvement (M=4.81), perceived avail-
ability (M=3.58), PCE (M=4.47), social norms (M=3.89), universalism
(M=3.93), power (M=3.46), all measured on a 7-point scale, and certainty
(M=3.49), measured on a 6-point scale.
4.2. Bivariate Analyses
First, we investigated differences in attitude and behavioral intentions
depending on consumer’s level of individual characteristics (Table 2).
Attitudes and behavior al intentions are stronger among highly involved
consumers, more certain consumers, consumer s with higher PCE, with
higher perceived availability, and with stronger social norms. Attitudes to-
wards buying sustainable Le Fermier products are also higher among con-
sumers with higher universalism and lower power values. However,
behavioral intentions do not differ depending on consumer’s level of uni-
versalism and power.
Next, four groups of respondents were identified based on attitude to-
wards buying (low, high) and intention to buy susta inable Le Fermier
products (low, high) using median split.
The amount of respondents and
Table 1. Construct reliability statistics (Cronbach alpha value).
Construct Alpha values
Decision-making or individual/situational characteristics
Involvement towards sustainability 0.65
Attitude towards buying 0.80
Intentions to buy 0.92
Perceived Availability 0.80
Perceived Certainty 0.85
Perceived Consumer Effectiveness 0.72
Social norms 0.61
Universalism 0.86
Power 0.73
Cronbach’s Alpha is a measure of internal consistency, which provides information
about the reliability of a multi-item scale. Values exceeding 0.6 indicate internal
consistent scales, in other words, all items incorporated in the scale measure the same
underlying construct.
Respondents are assigned to one of two possible groups based on the median, which is the
value above which half of the values fall and below which half of the values fall. Respondents
scoring below the median are assigned to the ‘‘low’’ group; respondents scoring above the
median are assigned to the ‘‘high’’ group.
relevant demographics per group are presented in Table 3. In general, wo-
men have significantly more positive attitudes towards buying Le Fermier
products (p<0.001) and higher intentions to buy (p<0.001) as compared to
men. No differences are found in attitudes and intentions for respondents
who live in the city versus the countryside or for respondents who differed in
claimed awareness of sustainability. We also asked our respondents to what
extent they had knowledge of sustainable consequences of food products (on
a 7-point scale). High knowledge of the sustainable character of food con-
sumption tended to be associated with a high behavioral intention ( p=0.10).
Table 2. Mean attitude towards buying and mean behavioral intentions for low
versus high involvement, perceived availability, certainty, PCE, social norms and
values levels (n=456).
Attitude towards
buying Mean (S.D)
Behavioral intention
Mean (S.D)
Involvement Low 4.77 (1.15) 3.84 (1.42)
High 5.41 (1.05) 4.49 (1.43)
F-stat 39.06*** 23.65***
Certainty Low 4.67 (1.17) 3.55 (1.40)
High 5.40 (1.01) 4.65 (1.32)
F-stat 50.52*** 73.15***
Availability Low 4.95 (1.14) 3.84 (1.49)
High 5.22 (1.11) 4.49 (1.37)
F-stat 6.13** 22.89***
Perceived consumer
Low 4.81 (1.21) 3.79 (1.48)
High 5.39 (0.98) 4.50 (1.30)
F-stat 30.19*** 37.82***
Social norms Low 4.83 (1.25) 3.78 (1.47)
High 5.32 (0.99) 4.53 (1.37)
F-stat 20.93*** 30.65***
Universalism Low 4.99 (1.21) 4.10 (1.49)
High 5.19 (1.05) 4.24 (1.43)
F-stat 3.58* 1.02
Power Low 5.25 (1.06) 4.30 (1.43)
High 4.98 (1.13) 4.12 (1.45)
F-stat 6.11** 1.77
Standard deviation or a measure of dispersion around the mean, expressed in the
same unit of measurement as the observations. In a normal distribution, 68% of the
cases fall within one standard deviation of the mean and 95% of the cases fall within
two standard deviations.
No differences were found for consumers who had either high or low atti-
As shown in Table 3, majorit ies of consumers have either a low attitude
and low behavioral intention or a high attitude and high behavioral inten-
tion, in line with consumer behavior theo ry. However, also a considerable
amount of our respondents have opposing attitudes and intentions. Some
consumers (n=43, 9.4%) feel strongly positive towards buying sustainable
Le Fermier products, while they are not planning to engage in this purchase.
On the other hand, some consumers (n=80, 17.5%) are planning to buy
these sustainable dairy products, even though they do not feel very positive.
To explain these inconsistencies, differences in terms of involvement, per-
ceived availability, certainty, PCE, social values, and values between the
four different groups are scrutinized.
Table 4 displays the mean scores and associated statistics on the indi-
vidual characteristics for the respondents belongi ng to the four attitudes
behavioral intention segments as introduced in Table 3. Consumers who
have positive attitudes towards buying sustainable products and who
display high beh avioral intentions have the highest involvement level.
These consumers apparently value susta inable consumption most strongly.
Those with low attitudes and low behavioral intentions are least involved
with sustainable products, although their score of 4.64 still denotes belief
that sustainable consumption can have substantial personal health, envi-
ronmental, or social benefits. Consumers who intend to buy Le Fermier
(irrespective of their attitude) are not strongly convinced that these
products are easily available
but they do rate the availability higher as
compared to the consumers with a low level of intent ion. Also, consumers
Table 3. Size and demographic characteristics of consumer segments (n=456).
Attitude towards buying
Low High
Intention to buy
Low n = 169 n =43
49.7% women 58.1% women
33.9% urban 34.9% urban
High n =80 n = 164
67.5% women 71.8% women
36.3% urban 38.3% urban
The fact that perceived availability is evaluated rather low is logical since subjects were
presented a fictive or non-existing brand of sustainable dairy products.
who do not intend to buy Le Fermier believe that the product is not easily
available even if they have a positive attitude towards buying the product.
In other words, consumers can have a positive attitude towards buying
sustainable products but not intend to do so because they think the
product is not easily available. Note that it was previously indicated
that perceived availability can easily be influenced through information
Certainty levels differ between all segments. Consumers who have high
positive attitudes and behavioral intentions display the highest certainty
level that Le Fermier is indeed sustainable, while consumers with lower
attitudes and intentions display significantly lower certainty levels. Con-
sumers with high intentions to buy Le Fermier have the highest PCE scores
irrespective of their attitude level. Within the group of consumers with low
Table 4. Mean scores for individual characteristics of consumer segments; means
with different subscripts (a, b, c, d) in one row or in one column are significantly
different using F-test statistics.
Low attitude
towards buying
High attitude
towards buying
Low intention to buy 4.64 a 4.88 b
High intention to buy 4.72 a 5.04 b
Perceived availability
Low intention to buy 3.24 a 3.31 a
High intention to buy 3.83 b 3.88 b
Low intention to buy 2.09 a 3.43 b
High intention to buy 3.64 c 4.04 d
Perceived consumer effectiveness
Low intention to buy 4.19 a 4.42 b
High intention to buy 4.51 c 4.74 c
Social norms
Low intention to buy 3.60 a 3.95 b
High intention to buy 4.13 c 4.07 b,c
Low intention to buy 3.73 a 4.33 b
High intention to buy 3.95 a 4.01 a,b
Low intention to buy 3.59 a 3.31 a
High intention to buy 3.59 a 3.33 a,b
F-statistics result from Analysis of Variance (see also footnote 5).
intentions to buy, PCE differs between those co nsumers with low versus
high attitudes towards buying. The highest score for social norms is ob-
served for consumers with low attitude and high intentions. This indicates
that social norms, or willingness to comply with the opinions of others,
explain why some consumers intend to buy sustainable products despite
having rather low personal attitudes towards buying sustainable products.
Finally, universalism differs depending on attitude within the low intention
segments, whereas power differs depending on attitude within the high
intention segments.
This empirical study indicates that young consumers in Belgium are rather
highly involved with sustainable food co nsumption (hence, contradicting
Dickson, 2001). Our finding confirms previous research on adolescent’s
perspectives of environmental impacts on food by Bisonette and Contento
(2001). Furthermore, consumers with high involvement have more positive
attitudes and are more willing to purchase sustainable products. In addition,
the manipulation of involvement contributed to increased involvement
levels of consumers. Hence, confronting consumers with the benefits of
sustainable consumption yields higher personal importance attached to
Respondents in general believe that an individual consumer can con-
tribute to protecting the environment and improving producer’s welfare
(contrary to Roberts, 1996). Furthermore, consumers who believe in their
personal consumer effectiveness are more positive towards sustainable
products and have more intentions of purchasing them. Our manipulation
of PCE did not make consumers believe stronger in their personal ability to
make a diff erence. Possibly the example provided (Chiquita banana) was too
distant to really be of concern for Flemish consumers. An example of local
farmers who ulti mately benefit from sustainable product sales or local
nature reserves that are saved or recovered thanks to local consumption
patterns might have worked better. Another potential explanation is that
PCE may be strongly inherent to a person (like values and social norms) and
hard to change in the short term.
Consumers do not really believe that Le Fermier sustainable dairy
products are easily available. One possible explanation for the low perception
of availability could be the overall picture that is associated with sustainable
products. The general public believes that sustainable products are difficult
to obtain and this image will not ea sily be shattered. Consumers probably
expect that they will ha ve to drive to a farm on the countryside or to a
specialized shop to find sustainable products. Our results confirmed that
higher perceived availability associates with more positive attitudes and
intentions towards buying sustainable products. In addition , we found that
perceived availability could indeed act as a barrier for sustainable con-
sumption intention. Consumers who believe that sustainable products are
less available intend less to purchase these products, even though they have
positive attitudes. However, we were able to increase the perceived avail-
ability of consumers by simply providing them with an Internet address and
telephone number. Even though consumers have to make some effort to find
out where to purchase Le Fermier products, consumers did rate Le Fermier
products as more highly available after being confronted with this information.
Consumers somewhat believe that Le Fermier products promote sus-
tainability regardless of our manipulation of certainty. Certainty about
sustainability claims associates with more positive attitudes and stronger
intentions to buy these products. However, the labels included in our mes-
sages did not increase perceptions of certainty. This is unexpected since the
sustainable organic label used is well known. Maybe this label is mainly
associated with healt hier food rather than with a more sustainable pro-
duction method. The other label focusing on social aspects of sustain-
ability is less present in daily purcha se situations, which might have
hindered the confidence attached to the label. Another potential explanation
is that our results confirm previous studies that indicate the relative impo-
tence of food labels with respect to improving consumer’s perception on
credence attributes.
Furthermore, consumers in general are not really strongly convinced that
friends or family want them to buy sustainable products. This implies again
that sustainable consumption in Flanders is not a general goal or ideal. We
found that consumers, who adhere to higher social norms concerning sus-
tainable products, have more positive attitudes and intentions towards
sustainable products. Our results also confirm that consumers who score
high on universalism and low on power have more positive attitudes to-
wards sustainable products.
The empirical findings indicate that sustainable products can be pro-
moted to the broader public through specific communication efforts that
lower perceived barriers to consumption. Previous research suggests that
sustainable consumption should not be promoted on the basis of the
goodness of being an ethical consumer, norms, collectiv e rationality, or
environmental ethics, since the ethos of environmentalism or sustainable
consumption cannot compete with the consumption ethos (Ger, 1999). Our
results show that the value of sustainable products could be directly pro-
moted by emphasizing personal relevance and importance to the individual
(i.e., increasing consumer involvement), informing consumers about
product availability, informing consumers about their possible effectiveness,
or increasing the social norms associated with sustainable consumption.
In order to promote sustainable consumption, people could also opt to
influence consumer values. However, value-based policy proposals that re-
spond to an alleged need to change basic ‘‘consumerist’’ values are hard to
realize and call for a long-term approach. Consumers do not change their
values on a day to day ba sis. Behavior-based solutions that emphasize the
need for social and institutional changes that facilitate environmentally
sounder consumer behaviors on a case-by-case basis are much more feasible
(Goodwin et al., 1997).
Consumers are clearly not a homogenous group, and raising their
awareness of the issues involved within food production needs to be targeted
accordingly. In our research, we identified four different consumer segments
based on attitude and behavioral intentions. The segments differ with re-
spect to many individual characteristics. Following these characteristics, we
can recommend different strategies to more effectively reach the different
consumer segments. Consumers who think it is very positive and meaningful
to buy Le Fermier products and indicate that there is a good chance that
they will buy Le Fermier products are generally more involved with sus-
tainable consumption. Based on this consumer profile, we argue that com-
munication towards them should focus on the rightness of their behavior.
Marketers or policy makers could cheer their efforts and emphasize all the
benefits that are associated with sustainable consumption, both for them-
selves as individual consumers and for the broader environment and society.
Consumers who do not feel positive or sensible about buying Le Fermier
products and who do not intend to buy these products are less involved with
sustainable consumption. They have a neutral position on the perception of
consumer effectiveness and are uncertain that Le Fermier products are really
sustainable. They also believe that Le Fer mier products are not easily
available in their neighborhood. Probably the most effective strategy would
be to envisage a change of these consumers’ values from an emphasis on
power and authority to striving for a better world, but this long-term goal
would be hard to realize (cf. Goodwin et al., 1997; Thogersen, 2001). A
more feasible short-term strategy could be to enhance involvement of these
consumers by stressing the personal benefi ts of sustainable products, with a
focus on ‘‘selfish’’ needs. Individualistic needs, such as security about health
consequences, hedonistic needs, and the need for economic reasoning could
be used to stimulate sustainable consumpt ion among this consumer seg-
ment. In addition, availability, PCE, and certainty should be underlined,
since these consumers poorly rate these constructs.
The two remaining segments (together accounting for more than one
quarter of the sample) display conflicting attitudes and behavioral intention,
hence illustrating the existing attitude behavioral intention gap. Some
consumers have a very positive attitude towards buying Le Fermier prod-
ucts, but are not intending to buy these products. The most plausible
explanation for this inconsistency is their idea that Le Fermier products are
not easily available in their neighborhood. The most straightforward
strategy to stimulate these consumers to buy sustainable food is by stressing
and demonstrating the availability of sustainable products. As mentioned
before, providing a telephone number or Internet address could yet be
sufficient to win them over. Even more effective would be to organize a
better supply of sustainable products in supermarkets. Furthermore, com-
munication could stress the reliability of labels, as these features are not
strongly believed in. In addition, communication can try to increase con-
sumers’ PCE, as these consumers only moderately believe that one person
can make a difference. Finally, increasing their involvement could lead them
to display more effort to search for the availability of sustainable produ cts.
Finally, some consumers do not feel positive about buying Le Fermier
products, but nevertheless claim it is very probable that they will buy these
products. Data show that this inconsistency is to be understood in terms of
their belie f about social norms. These consumers believe that their friends
and family find it fairly important that they buy sustainable products. Most
likely, they intend to buy Le Fermier products for social desirability reasons.
A potentially successful strategy is to underline and confirm the social
norms and pressure from peers that these consumers are subject to. A
perhaps more controllable strategy would be to also increase these con-
sumers’ personal involvement level.
A substantial number of studies show that consumers value the ethical as-
pects in a product, that attitudes are quite favorable, but also that behav-
ioral patterns are not fully consistent with attitudes. In this study, we
explored the attitude beh avioral intention gap by analyzing consumer
attitudes and purchase intention for sustainable dairy products, which have
several attributes to which a consumer pays attention: price, brand, con-
venience, package, ingredients, taste, and, maybe, also the presence of a
credence attribute like sustainability. We investigated the impact of indi-
vidual and situational characteristics, more specifically involvement, per-
ceived availability, percei ved certainty, PCE, values, and social norms, on
consumers’ attitudes, and intentions towards sustainable products.
The absence of a measure of actual behavior and the limited and specific
sample are obvious limitations of our study. Actually, the utilization of a
fictive brand/product and the experimental study design prohibited us from
measuring real behavior. However, we argue that behavioral intention and
behavior are strongly, though never perfectly, correlated. Our specific
interest was devoted to the previous link in the decision-making process,
namely the link between attitudes and behavioral intention. We also
acknowledge that in real life purchase situations, a lot of other factors can
influence the decision-making process of sustainable products. In addition to
other individual characteristics, situational and product-related facto rs will
obviously play an important role and require attention in future research.
The findings of this study yield public policy and marketing recom-
mendations for stimulating sustainable food consumption among the
young, who can reasonably be assumed to constitute the main market of
sustainable food products in the future. This study provides a first glance
at the complex decision-making process towards sustainable products by
investigating some of its important influencing factors. Individual charac-
teristics like involvement with sustainability, certainty with respect to
sustainability claims, and perceived consumer effectiveness have a signifi-
cant positive impact on attitude towards buying the products, which also
correlates strongly with intention to buy. Low perceived availability of
sustainable products explains why for some consumers intentions to buy
remain low, although their attitudes might be positive. For other con-
sumers, experiencing social pressure from peers (social norm) explains
intentions to buy, despite rather negative attitudes. Linking values as
specified in the value theory of Schwar tz (1992) with intention to buy
sustainable products shows that universalism and power significantly dif-
fered between respondents with low and high attitudes. Furthermore, this
study shows that more sustainable and ethical food consumption can be
stimulated through raising involvement, PCE, certainty, social norms, and
perceived availability. Most importantly, this study demonstrated that
some of these key determ inants, namely involvement, perceived availabil-
ity, and perceived consumer effectiveness, can be successfully influenced
through communication efforts and the provision of information, which is
an effort that can be taken up by any stakeholder involved with sustainable
food chains.
Schwartz List of Values (1992)
Power: social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and
s Social power (control over others, dominance)
s Wealth (material possessions, money)
s Social recognition (respect, approval by others)
s Authority (the right to lead or command)
s Preserving my public image (protecting my ‘‘face’’)
Achievement: personal success through demonstrating competence according
to social standards
s Ambitious (hardworking, aspir ing)
s Influential (having an impact on people and events)
s Capable (competent, effective , efficient)
s Intelligent (logical, thinking)
s Successful (achieving goals)
Hedonism: pleasur e and sensuous gratification for oneself
s Pleasure (gratification of desires)
s Sexuality (a satisfying sex life)
s Enjoying life (enjoying food, sex, leisure, etc.)
s Spoil oneself (doing pleasant things)
Stimulation: excitement, novelty and challenge in life
s An exciting life (stimulati ng experiences)
s A varied life (filled with challenge, novelty, and change)
s Daring (seeking adventure, risk)
Self-direction: independent thought and action- choosing, creating, exploring
s Freedom (freedom of action and thought)
s Self-respect (belief in one’s own worth)
s Creativity (uniqueness, imagination)
s Independent (self-reliant, self-sufficient)
s Choosing own goals (selecti ng own purposes)
s Curious (interested in everything, exploring)
Universalism: understanding, appreciation, tolerance, protection for the wel-
fare of all people and for nature
s Equality (equal opportunity for all)
s A world at peace (free of war and conflict)
s Unity with nature (fitting into nature)
s Wisdom (a mature understanding of life)
s A world of beauty (beauty of nature and the arts)
s Social justice (correcting injustice, care for the weak)
s Broad-minded (tolerant of different ideas and beliefs)
s Protecting the environment (preserving nature)
Benevolence: preservation and enhancement of the welfare of people with
whom one is in frequent personal contact
s Mature love (deep emotional and spiritual intimacy)
s True friendship (close, supportive friends)
s Loyal (faithf ul to my friends, group)
s Honest (genuine, sincere)
s Helpful (working for the welfare of others)
s Responsible (dependable, reliable)
s Forgiving (willing to pardon others)
Tradition: respect, commitment and acceptance of the custom and ideas that
traditional culture or religion provide the self
s Respect for tradition (preservation of time-honored customs)
s Moderate (avoiding extremes of feeling and action)
s Humble (modest, self-effacing)
s Accepting my portion in life (submitting to life’s circum stances)
s Devout (holding to religious faith and belief)
Conformity: restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or
harm others and violate social expectations or norms
s Politeness (courtesy, good manners)
s Self-discipline (self-restraint, resistance to temptation)
s Honoring of parents and elders (showing respect)
s Obedient (dutiful, meeting obligations)
Security: safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of
the self
s Sense of belonging (feeling that others care about me)
s Social order (stability of society)
s National security (protection of my nation from enemies)
s Reciprocation of favors (avoidance of indebtedness)
s Family security (safety for loved ones)
s Healthy (not being sick physically or mentally)
s Clean (neat, tidy)
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Iris Vermeir
Department of Business Administration
Hogeschool Gent
Voskenslaan 270
B-9000 Gent
Wim Verbeke
Department of Agricultural Economics
Ghent University
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... According to the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) and innovation diffusion theory (Rogers, 2010), we argue that B2B buyers' acceptance of sustainable materials can be influenced by the perceived advantages and compatibility of sustainable products with their current practices. Additionally, the product's overall quality and performance are expected to play a significant role in the acceptance of sustainable materials (Vermeir & Verbeke, 2006). ...
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Most existing research on climate change, sustainability, and branding focuses only on consumers and fails to explain these from the perspective of business-to-business buyers. This paper addresses the integration of sustainability and luxury B2B markets, examining whether sustainable materials can be considered a source of luxury and if the perception of the climate change risk will affect that attribution. To address these questions, we develop a conceptual framework identifying the key drivers of B2B buyer acceptance of luxury brands using sustainable materials. These drivers are categorized as brand-related, product-related, market-related, consumer-related, and country-related factors, alongside climate change risk as a key moderator. Additionally, the framework examines moderating factors, such as the price of the product, level of involvement, and other potential influences. Integrating academic research with managerial insights, this paper contributes to the growing body of literature on climate change, sustainability, and B2B marketing, offering a comprehensive understanding of the complex dynamics between sustainability and luxury branding in B2B contexts.
... The pursuit of sustainable development encompasses the implementation of strategies aimed at attaining objectives in the realms of economic profitability, social wellbeing, and environmental concerns (World Bank, 2003). In line with the importance of sustainability in food consumption, it specifically relates with a fairtrade (Clarke et al., 2007), sustainability-supporting policies, environmental impact of food production (Vermeir and Verbeke, 2006), animal welfare (Miranda-de la Lama et al., 2019), consumption of local products (Bianchi and Mortimer, 2015), sustainable production methods (Polenzani et al., 2020), and consumption of organic food (Chekima et al., 2017). ...
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The rising global phenomenon of sustainable consumption in the food market is progressively influencing a significant number of consumers on a worldwide scale. The main goal of this study was to analyze consumer attitudes toward selected sustainability issues (organic aspects, animal welfare, waste management, etc.) as well as marketing communication in the food market among two generations. Primary data were acquired by implementing an online questionnaire. In total, 950 respondents participated in the survey. The results showed that the iGeneration (iGen; 18–25 years) has a higher tendency than the Silver generation (58–76 years) to support sustainability issues such as recyclable packaging, organic production, and animal welfare, as well as to read the information regarding the product nutrition and composition. The Silver generation is more inclined toward Slovak origin and traditional Slovak dishes, and they consider television and the press as the main source of information. The results provide valuable insights for agrifood companies in developing consumer-driven marketing strategies. The main limitation is related to the application of self-reported measures. Future research may include cross-cultural studies and could be extended by incorporating other sustainable and environmental aspects.
... Positive attitudes towards sustainable development are associated with pro-environmental behaviours [50]. Thus, people with more positive environmental attitudes are more likely to engage in sustainable consumption practices [51,52]. Likewise, economic attitudes also influence sustainable decision-making [17,53,54], specifically in sustainable consumption behaviours [54]. ...
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Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is crucial in higher education, providing students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for a sustainable future. ESD seeks a holistic understanding of sustainability and promotes critical thinking and innovative approaches. Specifically, ESD is very important to address in engineering careers, as engineers will need to establish sustainable solutions in the future. For this reason, the integration of sustainability into university curricula has been studied for some time. In this way, this research analyses the perceptions (attitudes towards teachers; knowledge about sustainable development; environmental, economic, and social attitudes; sustainable behaviours) that engineering students in the Dominican Republic have towards sustainable development. A number of 626 questionnaires completed by engineering students were obtained. Subsequently, the data were analysed in SPSS and PLS-SEM. The results showed that attitudes towards teachers have an impact on engineering students’ knowledge of sustainable development. In turn, the results also showed that knowledge about sustainable development influences both attitudes (economic, social, and environmental) and sustainable behaviours of engineering students. Contrary to other research, this study suggested that economic attitudes are not identified as an antecedent of sustainable behaviours among engineering students. From these results, implications and future lines of research are generated.
... However, there are many barriers that prevent consumers from making this shift, including a lack of knowledge about the environmental impact of individual food choices [24,38,41] and which foods are considered sustainable [35,45]. This is known as the intention-behaviour gap [60] which exists for people who want to consume more sustainably but cannot translate their intentions into actions. ...
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Food consumption is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. However, online grocery shoppers often lack the time, motivation, or knowledge to contemplate a food's environmental impact. At the same time, they are concerned with their own well-being. To empower grocery shoppers in making nutritionally and environmentally informed decisions, we investigate the efficacy of the Scale-Score, a label combining nutritional and environmental information to highlight a product's benefit to both the consumer's and the planet's health, without obscuring either information. We conducted an online survey to understand user needs and requirements regarding a joint food label, we developed an open-source mock online grocery environment, and assessed label efficacy. We find that the Scale-Score supports nutritious purchases, yet needs improving regarding sustainability support. Our research shows first insights into design considerations and performance of a combined yet disjoint food label, potentially altering the label design space.
... In the manner of Health Consciousness (H9 and H10), the results of H9 (β = 0.429 and p < 0.01), showing a positive effect of health consciousness (HC) on ATT, resonate with Lea and Worsley (2005) and Lockie et al. (2004), who found health considerations to be significant drivers of green consumption. However, the rejection of H10 (p > 0.05), indicating that HC does not affect purchase intention (INT), adds nuance to this relationship, echoing Vermeir and Verbeke (2006), who suggested that health considerations might not directly lead to purchase intentions. Conforming to Purchase Intention, Loyalty, and Brand Evangelism (H11 and H12), the positive effects of INT on LOY (H11: β = 0.652and p < 0.01) and BE (H12: β = 0.384and p < 0.01) align with previous studies like Panda et al. (2020), reinforcing the notion that commitment to green products leads to loyalty and evangelism. ...
Green consumption behaviour research plays a vital role in promoting actions to protect the environment and promote sustainable development. This research aims to determine the relationship between environmental sustainability awareness, social sustainability awareness, altruism, health consciousness, and consumers’ green consumption behaviour. A quantitative analysis based on a dataset of 586 customers was performed to test the hypotheses with SmartPLS 3.3.3. The results of the PLS-SEM model indicated as follows: (1) Awareness of the sustainable environment enhances customers’ altruism; (2) Altruism has a positive effect on customers’ intention, loyalty, and green brand evangelism; (3) Health consciousness has a positive effect on attitude but has no effect on green purchase intention; (4) Green purchase intention has a positive effect on loyalty and green brand evangelism; (5) However, green brand loyalty is not a factor that influences green brand evangelism, which is a significant finding. Furthermore, another research finding also highlights the importance of altruism in utilizing green products.
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Doing business in big cities is always considered the top concern of business owners. Assessing customer concerns is a requirement. Especially for young customers. This study focuses on identifying and analyzing the influencing factors of Generation Z's intention to purchase green cosmetics in Ho Chi Minh City. The results indicate that four important factors are eco-label and brand certification, perception of behavioral control, perceived effectiveness, and subjective norms. Furthermore, the study offers practical recommendations to enhance these factors and educate the Gen Z community and businesses in Ho Chi Minh City about green cosmetics.
Meat from silvopastoral systems, due to its provision of numerous ecosystem services such as wildfire risk reduction in Mediterranean forests, can address societal growing demands for meat produced with lower environmental impacts. Differentiation of meat from these systems may contribute to their economic sustainability and hence reverse their decline in the Mediterranean. This study investigated consumer preferences and willingness-to-pay (WTP) for beef and lamb meat from silvopastoral systems associated with the provision of wildfire prevention service and explored two alternative ways of labelling this service. Through a choice experiment survey considering the type of pasture, length of the grazing period, production distance and price, we gathered data from 1209 meat consumers in two Spanish cities. We considered forest grazing with a target purpose as a level in the type of pasture attribute and it was presented either as grazing to prevent wildfires or grazing to reduce biomass in two alternative versions of the valuation survey. The random parameter logit model revealed the highest preferences and WTP towards nearby production distances, followed by targeted grazing and forest grazing, while the length of the grazing period was less relevant. No significant differences in consumers' WTP were found between conveying targeted grazing either as fire prevention or biomass reduction. Our findings also suggest that consumers' preferences varied with location, attitudes towards local food and the environmental role of grazing and consumption habits. Knowledge gathered in our work contributes to understanding consumers' perceptions of the beneficial environmental impacts of meat production.
Testing consumer acceptance for a new product, such as the sheep milk-based yogurt, provides a measure of its market success, thus it informs producers on the effectiveness of their decision to transform sheep milk into yogurt to increase their revenues. This work explores to what extent consumers accept sheep milk-based yogurt and test the role of person related factors and product related features on shaping its acceptance. The study collects data from a representative sample of Italian yogurt consumers, and data are then analyzed via a logistic regression. Results show that male, highly educated and high-income consumers are more likely than others to accept sheep milk-based yogurt. Findings suggest that consumers' food neophobia and variety-seeking traits play a pivotal role in affecting consumer acceptance. Lastly, interest in nutritional and health-related yogurt features increases the probability of accepting sheep milk-based yogurt. Thus, sheep milk-based yogurt should be targeted at high-end male consumers and those interested in nutritional and health-related aspects of yogurt. Informing consumers about the sheep milk yogurt properties may further increase its acceptance and curb food neophobia which we found to be one of the main barrier for the product acceptance. Future studies will explore consumer acceptance by using a real product and taste experiments.
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The rise in the world’s demand for fish is increasingly met by aquaculture. However, this sector still shows various criticalities in terms of sustainability of practices, first and foremost, that of feed availability. Nowadays, the use of insect meal represents one of the potential sustainable solutions, but consumption intention of fish fed with insect meal and the factors affecting it have not yet been adequately understood. This study investigates 318 Italian consumers’ intentions to buy fish fed with insect meal using an extended version of the Theory of Planned Behavior, including consumers’ moral attitude and sustainability consciousness as additional constructs. The results of structural equation models show that consumers’ high sustainability consciousness (6.16 on a scale from 1 to 7) does not influence their consumption intention of this product. Also, the two moderating variables involved in the model, i.e., the country of origin and price sensitivity, do not significantly affect consumers’ intentions. Since the analysis demonstrates that, for consumers, insect meal-fed fish conforms to their moral principles and a significant positive attitude toward this practice it could be argued that fish fed with insect meal can match the demand from consumers who feel responsible for their consumer behavior. Although the limited area of investigations and the high education of interviewed do not allow for generalizing of the results, this paper provides pivotal food for thought for companies, policymakers, and academics responding to previous research calls on understanding the role of some constructs of consumption intention and highlighting the levers on which to act to foster the consumption intention of insect-fed fish.
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Too often research in the area of marketing has equated socially responsible consumer behavior (SRCB) with ecologically conscious consumer behavior (ECCB) and developed a profile and subsequent marketing strategies based solely on the numbers of ECCBs performed. Socially conscious consumer behavior (SCCB) can impact particular groups within society (e.g. women, minorities, migrant workers, labor unions, etc.) or promote causes (e.g. gay rights, religious affiliation, avoidance of “sin” stocks, reduction of weapons production, etc.). Using an expanded understanding of what comprises socially responsible consumer behavior (SRCB), a cluster analysis of a national sample of adult U.S. consumers was performed. Four distinct market segments emerged. The clusters were formed based upon the respondents’ levels of ecologically and socially conscious consumer behavior. Each segment possessed unique attitudinal and demographic characteristics. The size and profile of each segment has important implications for marketing theory and practice.
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The authors construct a psychographic profile of the green consumer in terms of variables directly related to purchase behavior, such as price consciousness and general care in shopping, interest in new products, and brand loyalty. Additionally, they address attitudes toward advertising and media preferences. Data from 3264 respondents to the DDB Needham Life Style Study were analyzed. The results show the green consumer to be an opinion leader and a careful shopper who seeks information on products, including information from advertising, but also suggest that the green consumer is rather skeptical of advertising. The implications are that green consumers may be receptive to green marketing and advertising, but marketers should take care not to alienate them by using ambiguous or misleading messages.
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In order to determine when ethical ideology influences judgments of morality, individuals who endorsed an absolutist, exceptionist, subjectivist, or situationist ideology morally evaluated an actor linked, at varying levels of responsibility, to positive or negative outcomes. As predicted, absolutists judged the actor more harshly than exceptionists, but only when the described actor has foreseen or intended to produce a highly negative consequence.
This study investigates consumer attitudes to and associations with quality labels for beef. Beef quality labels were introduced as part of the marketing response strategy by the beef industry aiming at restoring the declining beef image and regaining consumer confidence in Europe. The objective of this paper is to add insights to the discussion about the potential role of quality labels in meat marketing, based on empirical research in Belgium. The research methodology focuses on consumer surveys with two representative samples: 157 respondents in 1996 and 303 respondents in 1998. Significant differences in consumer attitude towards and associations and beliefs with beef quality labels across time and across age, gender, education level, buyer status and claimed television impact are discovered. The research indicates that quality labels are a valuable and promising part of response strategies by the beef sector to negative media coverage. Important hurdles to overcome include establishing a waterproof traceability and control system, as well as setting up effective marketing communication aiming at correctly informing consumers.
This paper compares consumer motivation for buying “Integrated production” certified and labelled apples through either farm shops or supermarkets. The research methodology builds on means-end-chain (MEC) theory, with data collected through personal laddering interviews in Belgium. Hierarchical value maps, which visualise motivational structures of supermarket and farm shop purchase of quality labelled apples, are presented. Apple buyers at both outlet types pursue similar values, with health being paramount, but realise those values through largely different MECs. The findings reveal interactions between market channel characteristics and product attributes. Also, the study shows how outlet choice influences the perception and the motivation structure of the respondents for fresh apples. From the findings, implications pertaining to advertising are set forth through the application of the “Means-end conceptualisation of the components of advertising strategy” or MECCAS model.
The relationship between attitudes and behavior has been the topic of considerable debate. This article reports a meta-analysis of 88 attitude-behavior studies that reveals that attitudes significantly and substantially predict future behavior (mean r = .38; combined p <<. 000000000001). Relatively large and significant moderating effects were found for the attitudinal variables of attitude certainty, stability, accessibility, affective-cognitive consistency, and direct experience (mean q = .39). A smaller but significant moderating effect was found for self-monitoring (mean q = .29). Methodological factors associated with high attitude-behavior correlations included self-report measures of behavior (q =. 22), the use of nonstudents as subjects (q =. 17), and corresponding levels of specificity in the attitude and behavior measures (mean q = .47). The practical magnitude of attitude-behavior correlations is considered, as are the future directions of attitude-behavior research.