Digital Theses Archive


Tesi etd-03022022-172509

Type of thesis
Understanding current dynamics of consumer’s environmentally significant behaviours: the pivotal role of information
Scientific disciplinary sector
Istituto di Management - MANAGEMENT
relatore Prof. FREY, MARCO
Membro Prof. John Dumay
Presidente Prof. CINQUINI, LINO
  • circular packaging
  • consumer behaviour
  • environmental information
  • food waste
  • green products
  • pro-environmental behaviours
Exam session start date
Considering the important role played by citizens-consumers, and the need to shed further light on current dynamics that determine specific and relevant consumer’ pro-environmental behaviours, this Ph.D. thesis attempts to enlarge the academic literature on this topic, exploring the mechanisms that stand behind some relevant consumers’ pro-environmental behaviours and in particular the role of information in promoting them. Given that every single significant behaviour needs to be theorized and analysed separately (Stern, 2000), this thesis is focused on three specific ones: a) the purchasing of circular packaging; b) the intention to buy personal care products that are advertised with different green claims c) the consumer behaviour of food waste avoidance. All these behaviours are relevant for their consequences on the environment and considered priority areas of intervention within public strategies (EU Commission, 2019). These consumer dimensions are analysed in three different research papers . <br>The general aim that inspired and guided the entire work is to shed light on which is the role of information - whose availability can be considered a contextual factor in ABC model (Stern, 2000) - in helping to translate consumers’ environmental attitudes into actual pro-environmental behaviours. In fact, many studies found a big gap between individual predispositions and actual behaviours. A possible way to interpret this gap and to try to bridge it is to explore the role of contextual factors, such as the information available on the market, in influencing (or not) consumers to act greener.<br>From this aim, three main research questions derived:<br>RQ1: How does information influence the purchasing of circular packaging? <br>RQ2: Do consumers understand different types of green claims awarding those that imply a greater environmental commitment? <br>RQ3: Did the new context of Covid-19 pandemic – and the increased media attention to sustainability topics – influence the consumer awareness and effort to avoid food waste?<br>The first paper focuses on the first research question and contributes to the theoretical and empirical literature on consumer behaviour, proposing an extension of the rational-based theoretical models, including the element of information seeking, in order to explain the gap between the attitudinal dimensions and the actual behaviour. It highlights the fundamental importance of information in guiding consumption toward more circular choices. It focuses on purchasing packaging, which, in spite of its priority importance in the transition towards a circular economy, is still poorly analysed. Data were collected from a questionnaire-based survey administered to a large and representative sample of Italian families, using 1643 valid responses. Structural equation modelling is used to test the proposed hypotheses. <br>The second paper explores the second research question and extends the literature about consumers’ response to green claims and their influence on the intention to buy green products. It uses an experimental approach, and it is made up three complementary studies. The first one compares the effects on consumers of two claims that imply different levels of company’s environmental commitment. The second study aims to understand if consumers are able to recognize exaggerated claims. The last one analyses the consumer’s perception of company’s environmental commitment and the intention to buy the advertised product when an institutional methodology is used to substantiate the message. The experiments were administered online during January 2020 to representative samples of Italian population aged 18-75. <br>The third paper explores the third research question and investigates the extent to which psychological factors and a new social practice such as online shopping induced by the pandemic affect the consumer behaviour towards food waste via several food related lifestyles. In fact, among the many different side-effects of the pandemic, it seems reasonable to assume that it might have influenced consumer’s attention to and action to reduce food waste. Besides health concerns, it seems likely that the pandemic might have given rise to economic and environmental concerns among consumers and also to changes in everyday routines, such as an increase in online food shopping, which might next have affected their food waste avoidance behaviour. Data were collected through an online questionnaIre-based survey, administered to a representative sample of the Italian population aged 18-70 (N=1000) during September 2020 and analysed through a SEM.<br>Beyond this general introduction, each paper has its specific theoretical background along which many specific research hypotheses have been developed, tested, and discussed. These parts are therefore left for the reading of each individual article. After them, the general conclusions are reported.<br>