Sustainability Marketing - Essay Example

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Sustainability marketing can be achieved through many different institutions and agents in society such as governments, industries, and markets. In addition to these agents, households and consumers play a crucial role in the adoption of sustainable products and technologies. For a design to be sustainable, it must consider all environmental and economic impacts. Developing buying habits which are sustainable is one of the greatest challenges facing buyers, governments and companies across the world. Thus, it is important to study consumers in order to expand the knowledge of their behavior in the market. This paper will look at unsustainable human behavior and possible consumer resistance to adopting more sustainable products.

Unsustainable Human Behaviors

Unsustainable human behaviors are consumers practices that belittle social and environmental performance as well as their needs. This paper studies why and how consumers do or do not incorporate sustainability issues into their consumption behavior and decision making. There is a wide range of individual factors that play a major role in influencing unsustainable human behaviors. To get a better and easy understanding of the whole concept, this paper focuses on habits and consumer choices which are the two major factors affecting sustainable consumer behaviors.


Habits are very difficult to change. This is a result of the absence of motivation and in light of the fact that habits are frequently strengthened by the circumstances surrounding a situation. Therefore, well-functioning habits regularly diminish individuals' interest in searching for latest information or to consider other options (Verplanken & Wood, 2006). This leads to consumers sticking with one product or service and finding it difficult to change. A good example is the phone users, most phone users tend to stick to one brand of phone and it is almost impossible to convince them to try a different brand.

In light of this matter, understanding how consumers settle on choices is vital with a specific end goal to change their unsustainable conduct. In normal circumstances, ones choices need mental exertion like the purchase of a motor vehicle or the installation of heating solar panels. These choices require thought and reflection about various item choices and their highlights previously a proper game-plan are chosen.

Consumer Choices

Many researches have been done to examine the choices made by ethical consumers and the respective sustainable behaviors. Regardless of the many researches that have been done, only a few behaviors and perceptions are known in regard to consumers who are considered as ethical (Jackson, 2005). Questions have also been raised as to why the classification of behaviors as either ethical or unethical is made based on an individual consumer alone. Individual behavior alone does not suffice in understanding consumers adoption or rejection of the anti-consumption debate (Thogersen, 2014). Consumers have different choices while purchasing a product or a service. Many decisions made by consumers hardly involve the consumers motivation and or his consideration. Instead, decisions are made out of repetitive habits which often ignore relevant information in order to make such decisions quickly. This shows that consumers make decisions based on their satisfaction level rather than based on the accuracy of the decision based on available information (Thogersens, 2014). A simple example of such a situation is whereby a consumer chooses a product due to its low price, market strength of a brand, or as a result of a previous interaction or satisfaction by such a product.

Unlike the general perception by many environmental campaigners, decisions made by consumers are not always based on the evaluation of available information, assessing the attractiveness of the available alternatives or acting in accordance with one's beliefs and attitudes. This implies that a consumer will not invest much time and energy into making a decision unless such a decision has a reasonable level of relevance and significance to them. All this implies that unless the choice has a reasonable level of significance and personal relevance, the consumer will be motivated to invest much energy and time in it. This can be both a decent and awful thing. Something to be thankful for on the grounds that a heuristic methodology can include choosing items in light of their natural highlights and routine conducts can too be manageable (Holt, 2012). Besides, a man's natural states of mind can likewise impact acquiring conduct.

In any case, this requires attitude be initiated at the instance of basic decision-making, that relies upon the mentality quality and to add a signal in the prompt condition. A prompt can be an eco-friendly label or a sign flagging the purchaser that the item decision is by one means or another identified with nature (Young, Hwang, McDonald & Oates, 2010).

The process change of sustainable consumer behavior can be barred by automated decision making. In situations where there are no environmental cues, consumers will rarely select sustainable products considering that their attitudes are not strong enough to be enacted on their own (Pereira & Chatzidakis, 2012). Rather, other item qualities will impact the choice. For example, brand name, price, shelf position, or package design.

Resistance to Sustainable Consumer Behaviors

One major factor that determines consumer behavior is the availability of information when making a decision. There are different sources of information like commercial, public sources and the major one being mass media. Marketing in the 21st century has seen the consumer flooded with information some of which misleads and influences decision making. This creates a lot of resistance for consumers in an attempt to develop sustainable behaviors. (Hume, 2010). Attitude, ignorance and knowledge gap can also hinder the development of sustainable consumer behaviors. Many consumers will still buy or make wrong consumption choices regardless of all the information that is available in assisting them to make the right choice. This can be attributed to general ignorance by the consumer to make choices based on emotions instead of relying on information to make a choice. In the market, consumers might have certain perception towards a particular commodity or brand. A consumer might choose one brand over another not because it is the best but because of his or her attitude towards the brand. Another factor that is neglected but hinders the development of sustainable consumer behaviors is lack of self-control. Self-control accounts for a large percent of the choices made by a consumer. Self-control will help a consumer differentiate between a commodity that they need and one that they want. The basic differentiation between a need and a want relies on self-control.

ConclusionThe development of sustainable consumer behavior is challenging. It is clear that consumer habits and choices are the major barriers to the development of sustainable consumer behavior. In order to reduce unsustainable consumer behavior, environmental campaigners should progressively focus on making shopping environments which encourage and advocate for sustainable consumer products in accordance current practices. Even though information provided through marketing might not be enough, consumer choices are mainly affected by one's self-control. The simple provision of information to fill the information gap is not enough as many consumers still make wrong choices even when information is available. More emphasis needs to be made on the human benefits of sustainable consumer behaviors. Unsustainable consumer behaviors lead to increased environmental degradation and increased levels of waste and therefore more campaigns and education should be done to encourage the development of sustainable consumer behaviors.


Holt, D. B. (2012). Constructing sustainable consumption: From ethical values to the cultural transformation of unsustainable markets. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 644(1), 236-255. Gigenrenzer, G. & Gaissmaier, W. (2011). Heuristic decision making, Annual Review of Psychology, 62, p. 451-482.

Hume, M. (2010). Compassion without action: Examining the young consumer's consumptionand attitude to sustainable consumption. Journal of world business, 45(4), 385-394.

Jackson, T. (2005). Motivating sustainable consumption. Sustainable Development Research Network, 29, 30.

Pereira Heath, M. T., & Chatzidakis, A. (2012). Blame it on marketing: consumers' views on unsustainable consumption. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 36(6), 656-667.Shaw, D. & Shiu, E. (2001). Ethics in Consumer Choice: A Multivariate ModellingApproach. European Journal of Marketing 37, 10, 1485-1498.

Thogersen, J. (2014). Unsustainable consumption: basic causes and implications for policy, European Psychologist, 19(2), p. 84-95.

Verplanken, B. & Wood, W. (2006). Interventions to break and create consumer habits, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 25, p. 90-104.

Young, W., Hwang, K., McDonald, S., & Oates, C. J. (2010). Sustainable consumption: green consumer behavior when purchasing products. Sustainable development, 18(1),



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