A Victoria University of Wellington researcher has uncovered why environmentally concerned consumers don’t always purchase green products and live a greener life. The new study explores the gap between consumers’ positive attitudes towards the environment and their “un-environmental” consumption habits.

According to School of Marketing and International Business lecturer Micael-Lee Johnstone, several studies have revealed an inconsistency between green attitudes and behaviour despite consumers’ positive attitudes about the environment and their growing environmental consciousness.

Several focus groups have reported that being environmentally responsible takes time, effort and money, which can lead to inaction. Other participants have also claimed that one must be knowledgeable, disciplined and prepared to make personal sacrifices just to be "green."

The researchers also noted that the unavailability of green products or other people’s habits make it difficult to live a green lifestyle. Urban consumers thought their location made it harder to be eco-friendly, whereas those who lived in non-urban areas are surrounded by a natural setting that makes them more motivated to buy green products.

Moreover, some consumers still think that buying green products do not make any significant difference to the environment. On the other hand, researchers suggest that marketers have a hard time selling these products because the environmental benefits are hard to comprehend, involves uncertainty and are not immediately clear to consumers.

“Efforts should be made to make green appear easy, attainable and nonexclusive,” Johnstone concluded. “Essentially, marketers and policy-makers need to work on normalising it because consumers are more likely to adopt behaviours and buy products that they perceive to be mainstream and part of the social norm.”

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