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Over the last ten years, green marketing and ethical consumerism have changed ominously. Consumer attitudes and beliefs regarding the importance of environmentally friendly behavior have become more important. Environmental degradation and consumers’ behavior have been identified as the main cause of ecological deterioration. Consequently, the impact of environmental deprivation of human life has captured academicians and researchers’ interest across the world. Also, customers must be alert and aware about environmental issues whereby responsible customers must take appropriate initiatives to protect the environment. The initiatives include reducing the consumption of non-green products and using environmentally friendly products and biodegradable products, recycling products, and optimizing energy efficient products. Tighter government regulations on the environment can help curb environmental problems facing the nation. Governments must go beyond the present requirements and initiate a new system of green policy that would strengthen and preserve the environment. By adapting the survey done by Greendex (2010), the main objectives of this study are to measure environmentally friendly consumer behavior and sustainable consumption. The respondents in this study are adult consumers, and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and SEM version 21.0 are used to analyze preliminary data, descriptive analyses and to test the hypotheses. In summary, this study contributes to theoretical and practical knowledge for government policy makers and academicians of environmentally friendly consumer behaviors in Malaysia.
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Understanding Environmental Friendly Consumer Behavior
Wan Kalthom Yahya1*, Noor Dalila Musa1, Nor Hashim Hashim2
1Faculty of Business Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Pahang,
26400 Bandar Tun Razak Jengka, Pahang, Malaysia
wkalthom@pahang.uitm.edu.my*
noordalial@pahang.uitm.edu.my
2Arshad Ayub Graduate Business School, Universiti Teknologi MARA
40450, Shah Alam
norhashima@salam.uitm.edu.my
*Corresponding Author
Abstract: Over the last ten years, green marketing and ethical consumerism have changed ominously.
Consumer attitudes and beliefs regarding the importance of environmentally-friendly behavior have become
more important. Environmental degradation and consumers’ behavior has been identified as the main cause of
ecological deterioration. Consequently, the impact of environmental deprivation of human life has captured
academicians and researchers' interest across the world. Also, customers must be alert and aware about
environmental issues whereby responsible customers must take appropriate initiatives to protect the
environment. The initiatives include reducing the consumption of non-green products and using
environmentally friendly products and bio-degradable products, recycling products and optimizing energy
efficient products. Tighter government regulations on the environment can help curb environmental problems
facing the nation. Governments must go beyond the present requirements and initiate a new system of green
policy that would strengthen and preserve the environment. By adapting the survey done by Greendex 2010, the
main objectives of this study are to measure environmental friendly consumer behavior and sustainable
consumption. The respondents in this study are adult consumers and the Statistical Package for the Social
Sciences (SPSS) and SEM version 21.0 is used to analyze preliminary data, descriptive analyses, and to test the
hypotheses. In summary, this study contributes to theoretical and practical knowledge for government policy
makers and academicians of environmental friendly consumer behaviors in Malaysia.
Keywords: Environmental consumer, Green marketing, Ethical consumerism, Sustainable consumption,
Malaysia
1. Introduction
Today more and more people have realized the direct impact of their purchasing behaviour on global
warming, climate change and problems related to ecology. Perhaps, this could also contribute to the reasons why
people are becoming more aware about sustainable consumption, and its positive impact on society. Generally,
environmental issues will divide the public into two categories. The first group would point theirs fingers at the
government and hold the government responsible for environmental issues while the second group are those that
are highly concerned about environmental sustainability and they themselves try to manage ecological balance.
Though it is bitter to swallow, society has to admit that the environmental problem is everyone’s responsibility.
Environmental issues are human induced (Oskamp & Saunders, 2003; Ramly et al., 2012). Certainly
irresponsible human behaviors towards environment require behavioral solutions and legislation actions.
Consumer sustainable behaviour is of importance for the future as consumers are the driving force of
consumption.
Today, issues on environment have captured the interest of the Malaysian legislators and the society.
Myers (1997) agrees the important role play by the public in curbing the environmental problems and issues, yet
requires the government involvement and actions. Similarly, Haron et al., (2005) echo the same opinion
especially the government role in promoting the public in being more sustainable consumption users. Past
research has acknowledged the government’s vigorous efforts and strategies in creating an environment for
sustainable consumption and development (Ahmad & Juhdi, 2008) as well as instills environmentally friendly
consumer behavior in Malaysians. Among of the strategies are education and fostering environmental as well as
awareness on ecological so as to ensure that sustainable consumption practices achieve the objective (Mat Said
et al., 2003).
Tan & Lau (2010); Ahmad & Judhi, (2008); Haron et al., (2005) and Mat Said et al., (2003) identify
there is a gap between environmental issues and knowledge. Therefore, based on the findings from the
mentioned researchers, there is an urgent need to bridge the gap through heighten the public awareness about
ecological biodiversity and tighten the government’s role in the policy and regulations as to cultivate sustainable
consumption among Malaysians.
2. Literature Review
Public awareness
Grunert (1993) professes that 40% of environmental degradation of consumption activities contributed
by the private households. Consistent environmental decay in the developed countries is the reason to a
persistent public concern. Similarly, in Malaysia the green movements for the environmental preservation are
beginning to encourage the public awareness (Tan & Lau, 2010).
Public awareness is the most significant factor affecting environmental problems (Chukwuna, 1998 and
Yahya and Che Ha, 2013). Actually, the environmental problems come from the population and its
consumption patterns (Oskamp and Saunders, 2003) although some put the blame on the government,
commercial agriculture businesses or oil organizations. Therefore, one of the challenging tasks is to stimulate
the citizens’ knowledge and awareness towards environmental protection. This requires a change particularly a
shift in behaviors if the level of awareness and attitudes need to be increase. According to Haron et al. (2005),
the critical step is to oversee the public environmental awareness current state before any changes of behaviors
can take place.
Recently, recycling activities have demonstrated that change of behaviors. However, recycling
activities in Malaysia is not a successful program. This is because the Malaysian citizens are not fully
acknowledging the significant to separate household solid waste (Haron et al., 2005). Conclusively, Haron et
al., (2005) stress that only knowledgeable and concern citizens will be fully committed to work towards having
quality environments.
Government Regulations
Government role in the environmental protection is very important. Additionally, the Malaysian
government has applied various strategies in the efforts to promote sustainable consumption practices among the
citizens. In fact, social advertising has been used as one of the strategies to educate and encourage awareness
and environmental concern among the citizens (Haron et al., 2005).
Despite the serious current of ecology problems, many people are still believe government is the main
body that should be responsible in protecting the environment (Chyong et al., 2006). For decades, government
has been playing its role to up hold the social interest through law and regulations (Wood, 1991), preserve the
environment and developing sustainable consumption by implementing the policies and regulations (Tan & Lau,
2010; Myers, 1997; Wang, 2010). Yet, it is still no enough as Banerjee (1998) asserts that tougher regulations
and a variety of environmental policy are needed as to increase the environmental awareness in order to enable
behavioral changes among the public.
Act on legislation has proven to put pressure on businesses to be more environmental friendly (Barakat
& Cairns, 2002) and this indicate that government legislative policies are crucial in encouraging greater
environmental responsibility among the citizens (Dummett, 2006).
Environmentally Friendly Consumer Behavior
The marketers need to enhance their environmental performance as to satisfy the environmental
requirements and to remain competitive globally. Furthermore, due to consumer demand, increasing of
environmental regulation, managerial concern dealing with ethics and customer satisfaction have force
industries to be more environmentally friendly (Foster et al., 2003). Apparently, environmentally friendly
conscious consumers are contending to look after the environment through activities such as recycling,
emphasizing environmental label of recycled material, and consuming only green products (Barber, 2010).
Now a day, consumers are beginning to notice the contributing factors of the environmental problems.
Obviously, industries are damaging and ravaging the existing environmental resources. They bring more harm
than good. Accordingly, a growing number of concern consumers are looking for products and services that
follow practices to protect the environment. Past study from Barber (2010) specifies these concern consumers
would choose the eco-friendly products against a standard product if they were been given a choice to choose.
Concurrently, studies in Australia (D’Souza et al., 2006) and New Zealand (Forbes et al., 2009) identify that
although the price of conventional products are more expensive, 70% of Australian and 73% of New Zealand
consumers would be willing to pay more for an environmentally sustainable product. Thus, it shows that
consumers are willing to buy a product if quality is the issue.
Underpinning Theory
Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) is the underpinning theory that is employed as
to develop the framework in the study. The theory suggests basically people before engaging themselves in any
behaviour, they would consider the consequences of alternative behaviors and that they choose to perform
behaviors associated with the desirable outcomes. The Theory of Planned Behavior Model assumes that the
prevailing determinants of a person’s intention /action based on the beliefs. Furthermore, the attitude toward the
behavior is defined as the individual's positive or negative feelings when performing the behavior. It is
determined through an assessment of one's beliefs and the consequences arising from a behavior and an
evaluation of the desirability of these consequences.
2.1 Relationship Between Public Awareness and Environmentally Friendly Consumer
Behavior
Varadarajan (1992:342) designates those responsible organisations that practise
environmentally friendly policies are “likely to become an increasingly important organisational
imperative in the years ahead.” Similarly, since the issues of public awareness and concern for
environmental are growing, corporate environmental responsibility are now becoming the corporate
agenda for almost every organisations worldwide (Servaes and Tamayo, 2013; Dimitriades, 2007).
Responsibilities of organisation to the society are to respect the environmental considerations,
ensure of public concern and consumer well-being. On the contrary, the organisations must not abuse
the production resources, be more responsive and alert about pollution, noise, waste disposal effects
and potential dangers; and use only eco-friendly substances. Simply put, the organisation
responsibility is to make certain that the environment is always a better place to live and work. Thus,
organisation needs to prove to the public that their productions are better than the competitors. Over
and above, the product health, safety and benefits are the organisation priority concern. Along the
same line, Dawkins and Lewis (2003:188) profess that “business is increasingly addressing corporate
responsibility issues to response to public concern.” Therefore, this study propose that
H1: There is a significant and positive relationship between public awareness and
environmentally friendly consumer behavior
2.2 Relationship Between Government Regulations and Environmentally Friendly
Consumer Behavior
Regulatory forces are the most substantial driving force behind the development of corporate
greening in both the developed (Fisher and Schot, 1993) as well as developing counties (Steger et
al., 2003). Government and the law enforcements are examples of regulatory forces. The primary
roles of the government are as the administrator and the law-maker. Meanwhile, the private sector
mainly would focus on the infrastructure, stimulate R&D, education and distillate on new
technologies.
Additionally, the government is also the protector of the “social interest” through the
legislation. Simultaneously, legislation has able to put the pressure on businesses to behave in a
more environmentally manner (Barakat and Cairns, 2002; Steurer, 2010). Thus, in order to
embolden and encourage better environmental responsibility, the government legislative policies
need to be more active and lead the way. So, it is suggested that:
H2: There is a significant and positive relationship between government regulations
and environmentally friendly consumer behaviour
3. Methodology
3.1. Measurement Scales
An online questionnaire was used as the data collection in this study. The respondents completed the
mailed questionnaires within two months; April and May 2014. All the items of public awareness, government
regulations and environmental friendly consumer behaviour were taken from the Greendex 2010 survey.
Overall, 502 responses from 1370 of the total population (a response rate of 36.6%) were usable and a total of
twenty nine questionnaires were rejected. The questionnaire consists of three (3) parts which are explained
below.
3.1.1. Public Awareness
The first part of the questionnaire refer to the questions about public awareness. It consists of six (6)
questions in which researchers examine the level of awareness that public have towards environmentally
friendly consumer behavior. The questionnaire was designed to identify whether the respondents are concerned
about environmental problems around them and how serious the problems are in today’s world. The public’s
perception about environmental problems and its impact on their way of life and the action taken on how to
solve the problems was also asked in the survey.
3.1.2. Government Regulations
The second part of the survey instrument focused on the evaluation of the public as a citizen in
Malaysia when dealing with government regulations on environment issues. There are six (6) questions in this
section and the respondents are asked to rate the rules and regulations implemented by the Malaysian
government.
3.1.3. Environmental Friendly Consumer Behavior
The third part of this questionnaire consists of seven (7) questions with the main purpose to ascertain
the level of practices that the public have for environmental friendly consumer behavior. Questions asked how
aware the respondents as citizens on consumption behavior are in their daily life. Respondent’s information on
gender, age, marital status, family size, education level, occupation, monthly household income, state
respondents are currently residing was also asked.
3.1.4. Samples and Data Collections
Using a quantitative approach, this study was conducted among online users using self-reported survey
questionnaires. The survey was sent from April 2014 to May 2014, consuming a time period of 5 weeks.. The
constructs of the conceptual framework were operationalised by multi-item measures using 7 point Likert-Scales
format, anchored by “Strongly Agree”' (7); “Agree” (6); “Slightly Agree” (5); “Neutral” (4); “Slightly Disagree”
(3); “Disagree” (2); “Strongly Disagree” (1) and the items used to quantify them were adopted from previously
tested scales.
The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21 is used to analyze the preliminary
data. The process of data screening and cleaning was conducted in order to identify ‘outliers’. This was followed
by descriptive analyses such as means, standard deviations and frequencies. The analysis includes reliability
testing and validity of the scales. A factor analysis was used to identify the interrelationship among the set of
variables. Finally, Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) using AMOS was conducted to test the strengths and
relationship among the variables.
4. Results
4.1. Respondent Characteristics
Table 1 show the demographic profile of the respondents by gender, age, education, occupational status
and income. The female respondents represented 66.5 percent of the total respondents (334 females), while male
respondents were 168 (33.5 percent). The majority of respondents (68.8%) were from the age group between 21-
40 years old. Most of the respondents obtained tertiary education backgrounds with at least a Master’s degree
(91.0 %). From Table 1, 197 respondents had monthly household incomes above RM 6,000 (36.2%) while 63.8
percent of households had monthly household income less than RM 6,000.
TABLE 1 Characteristics of respondents
Demographic variable
Frequency
Percentile
Gender
Male
168
33.5
Female
334
66.5
Age
20 years old and lower
2
.4
21 - 30 years old
161
32.1
31 - 40 years old
184
36.7
41 - 50 years old
110
21.9
51 years old and more
45
9.0
Education level
12
2.4
33
6.6
457
91.0
Occupation
183
36.5
28
5.6
237
47.2
48
9.6
1
.2
2
.4
3
.6
31
6.2
61
12.2
102
20.3
111
22.1
197
36.2
An exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis was performed to check and verify the three factor-
solutions. Factor analysis using method of principal component analysis with the varimax of Kaiser
Normalization was used to analyze the scales. As recommended by Nunnally (1978) items with loadings higher
than 0.50 on one factor are retained for further analysis. As a result, 6 items were deleted. The entire new factors
were checked for reliability: public awareness (.780), government regulation (.783), and environmentally
friendly consumer behavior (.640). Both the Kaiser-Mayer-Olkin (KMO) test for measuring sampling adequacy
and Barlett’s Test of Sphericity display significant results. The result indicated the KMO value of .779 is greater
than 0.5, which falls in the acceptable range and it considered highly satisfactory. Thus, the factor analysis is
enabled for further analysis, and the Barlett’s Test of Sphericity is significant at 0.000 levels. This means that
there are intercorrelations among the variables. Table 2 depicts the final items and loading used in this study.
Table 2 Measurement Model
Construct
Itema
Loadings
Public awareness
I am very concerned about environmental problems
.531
The seriousness of environmental problems is exaggerated todayb
-
Environmental problems are having a negative impact on my health
todayb
-
Global warming will worsen my way of life within my own lifetime
.682
As a society, we will need to consume a lot less to improve the
environment for future generationsb
-
To me, concern about the environment is very serious and should be a
priority for everyone
.799
Government
Regulations
The Government should aggressively enforce environmental rules and
regulationsb
-
The Government is aggressive in controlling pollution of the
environment
.750
The Government is currently working very hard to make sure that we
have a clean environment
.802
The Government must impose tighten rules on disposable productsb
-
The Government needs to provide more information and Education on
environmentally friendly behaviorb
-
The Government is aggressively creating awareness campaigns about
green behavior
.723
Environmentally
Friendly Consumer
I am willing to pay more for energy-saving products because it will save
me money because of lower energy costsb
-
Behavior
I use recycled materials to save the environment
.661
I buy environmentally friendly products for future generations’
sustainability
.660
I bring my own bag in store/market to reduce plastic usage that can harm
the environment
.658
I cut down on use of cars by using public transportation, carpooling, etc.b
-
I sort trash to separate garbage from recyclable material
.653
The current lifestyle in my country is sustainable for future generations
.715
Notes: a. Scales ranging from1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree)
b. Items that were deleted
Table 3 captured all the results of Confirmatory Factor Analysis on the constructs in this study. The
majority of the CFI and TLI yield results of more than 0.92, indicating a very good fit model. Similarly,
majority of the GFI and GFI also yield results above 0.98 and 0.94 respectively. Finally, the RMR yield results
below 0.05 which all the statistics indicating a good fit model. This suggests that convergent validity in this
study is established. Apart from assessing the overall fit of the measurement model, the critical ratio (t-test) for
the factor loading is often used to assess convergent validity. This is because when the factor loadings show the
statistically significant, then convergent validity exists (Dunn et al., 1994). The magnitude and direction of the
estimated parameters between latent variables and their indicators are also examined for convergent validity
(Steenkamp and Van Trijp, 1991).
Table 4 exhibits the results of the magnitude, direction and statistical significance of the estimated
parameters between latent variables and their indicators. Table 5 illustrates the relationship between the
constructs of the study. Overall, the results of the correlation exhibit the existence of a significant relationship
among the constructs of the study. The composite reliability value for all the factors were above 0.6 as
suggested by Hatcher (1994). This is to prove for the existence of reliability. One of the variance extracts
(EFCB= 0.40) estimates values are below 0.5. However, Hatcher (1994) posits that this situation did not cause
concern since previous studies show that it is quite frequent to find estimates below 0.50 even when the
composite reliability is acceptable.
Table 3: Results of Confirmatory Factor Analysis
Construct
Chi-Square
(χ2 ); p-value
GFI
AGFI
CFI
TLI
RMR
Public Concern
5.452; .004
.989
.946
.985
.956
.016
Government Regulations
3.554; .169
.997
.983
.992
.997
.017
Environmentally Friendly
Consumer Behavior
4.434; .012
.991
.955
.928
.976
.036
Table 4: The Magnitude, Direction and Statistical Significance of the Estimated Parameters
Between Latent Variables and their Indicators
Latent
Indicator
Standardized
Reg. Weigh
Standard
Error (S.E)
Critical
Ratio (C.R)
P
Public Awareness
ECB 1
.788
PA 6
.916
.059
16.740
***
PA 4
.498
.060
10.869
***
→ PA 1
.478
.057
10.400
***
Government
→ ECB 7
.564
Regulations
→ GR 6
.663
.105
10.679
***
→ GR 3
838
.120
11.66
***
→ GR 2
.722
.124
11.202
***
Environmentally
→ ECB 2
.647
Friendly Consumer
→ ECB 3
.748
.119
9.987
***
Behavior
→ ECB 4
.502
.130
8.550
***
→ ECB 6
.401
.127
7.075
***
Table 5 Internal Consistency, Average Variance Extracted, Composite Reliability and Correlation Matrix
Construct
Internal
Consistency
AVE
PA
GR
EFCB
Public
Awareness (PA)
.619
.50
.78
Government Regulations
(GR)
.786
.51
.091*
.79
Environmentally Friendly
Consumer Behavior (EFCB)
.640
.40
.328**
.137**
.68
Composite Reliability is displayed in Bold and Italic
Notes: ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed) *Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
Table 6 The Direct Effect of Public Awareness and Government Regulation on
Environmental Friendly Consumer Behavior
Dependent
Variable
Independent
Variable
Hypothesized
Sign
Direct Effect
β
Support
Environmental
Friendly Consumer
Public Awareness
+
.42****
Yes
Consumer
(R2 .21)
Government Regulations
+
.16*
Yes
Notes: β is standardized regression weights and Significance level: ****p≤0.001 *p ≤0.01
The constructs of public awareness and government regulations are tested against environmental friendly
consumer behavior. Table 6 shows the result of the hypotheses testing. The result indicates that public
awareness appeared to have the highest positive significant relationship with environmentally friendly consumer
behavior (p≤0.001).This could be explained in the sense that consumers with favorable attitudes towards
environmentally friendly behavior are more likely to be more environmentally friendly consumer. On the other
hand, although government regulations show positive relationship with environmental friendly consumer
behavior, the effect is not as high as public awareness. This maybe because consumers assume that government
regulations and policies are the main concern for organizations and not individuals. Likewise, consumers are
likely to abide and follow any regulations or policies imposed by the government.
Implication and Conclusions
The results from the study indicate consumers with favourable environmental attitudes are acting in
being more environmental friendly consumers. They use recycled materials to save the environment, buy
environmentally friendly products for future generations’ sustainability, bring their own bag in store/market to
reduce plastic usage that can harm the environment and sort trash to separate garbage from recyclable material.
This is similar to a study done by Cheah and Phau (2011) that found if a consumer has knowledge
about the environment and pollution disasters especially in terms of the causes and its impact on the
environment, then their awareness levels will increase and, simultaneously promotes a favourable attitude
towards green environment. Therefore, it is crucial for the government to publicize information or educate the
citizens about the environment either through communication initiatives such as environmental support
campaigns, or general news on how to protect the environment through the electronic media. These actions
could formulate communication strategies and programs designed to reach out and eventually induce favorable
environmental attitudes and behaviors in Malaysian consumers.
The Government cannot solve all environmental issues. More regulatory measures are needed and stern
action must be taken to anyone or any organisation that harms the environment. In addition, the Government
needs to publish more information in the mainstream media to educate the public on the importance and
consequences of the deteriorating environment. Likewise, campaigns on the environment must be done regularly
to remind everyone about their role in saving the environment. Finally, there must be active involvement and
cooperation from the citizens to become ecological friendly consumers to enhance the quality of life in their
community.
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