Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 159–177 | Cite as

Isolated Environmental Cues and Product Efficacy Penalties: The Color Green and Eco-labels

  • Ethan PancerEmail author
  • Lindsay McShane
  • Theodore J. Noseworthy


The current work examines how cues traditionally used to signal environmental friendliness, specifically the color green and eco-labels, and influence product efficacy perceptions and subsequent purchase intentions. Across three experiments, we find that environmental cues used in isolation (i.e., green color without an environmental label or an environmental label without green color) reduce perceptions of product efficacy. We argue that this efficacy discounting effect occurs because the isolated use of an environmental cue introduces category ambiguity by activating competing functionality and environmentally friendly schemas during evaluation. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on environmental consumption as well as offer insight into the effective use of environmental cues on product packaging.


Color green Eco-labels Environmental cues Product packaging perceptions Product efficacy Categorization Category ambiguity Schema incongruity 



Many thanks to the section editor and anonymous reviewers for their comments through the review process. We thank Paul Dion for his assistance with data collection. We also gratefully acknowledge the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retail and Services at the Sobey School of Business for their financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ethan Pancer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsay McShane
    • 2
  • Theodore J. Noseworthy
    • 3
  1. 1.Sobey School of BusinessSaint Mary’s UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Sprott School of BusinessCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Schulich School of BusinessYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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