1 Introduction

Materialism understood as excessive consumption has led to disastrous consequences for our world (United Nations Environment Programme, 2020), such as biodiversity loss, water stress, and greenhouse gas emissions (Global Resource Outlook, 2019) to name a few. Notably, with humanity consuming more resources than ever before (Almond et al., 2020), the SDG goals are at stake and, therefore, it is time to say goodbye to materialism for the bigger cause of humanity. However, saying goodbye does not obviate the need for consumption and instead demands new habits of consumption that are compatible with SDG goals and the overall sustainability agenda. As people across the globe are realizing that less can really be more (Rathour & Mankame, 2021), our research proposes and advocates minimalism as a global philosophy of consumption having potential to minimize adverse effects as against materialism.

Minimalistic consumers prefer simplicity, abstain from indulging in materialism and minimize their dependence on materialistic things for seeking instant gratification (Iyer & Muncy, 2016; Seegebarth et al., 2016). People across the globe are realizing that less really can be more (Rathour & Mankame, 2021). A new wind is blowing as young people turn away from excessive materialism and toward a more aware, minimalist lifestyle. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed in advancing this philosophy as people have learnt to survive with less possessions during this period and are adopting this form of consumption as a new way of living (Mehta et al., 2020). Since constant resource extraction and excessive consumption have posed a major threat to the ecosystem and barrier to the SDG targets (Almond et al., 2020), as a result, new consumption habits are required that are compatible with sustainability and the environment. Therefore, the current study aims to explore minimalism from millennials perspective.

Minimalism as a new form of consumption is the need of the hour and should be promoted across the globe for reasons both from an individual and business point of view. For individual customers, minimalism can offer several well-being benefits (Lloyd & Pennington, 2020) and provide them with more time and liberty to pursue activities and hobbies that they are interested in. From a business angle, minimalism as a consumption mode is creating a new segment of customers that are more likely to grow in future because of growing awareness towards sustainability. Thus, understanding of this segment can help marketers to design strategies (Pangarkar et al., 2021) and pursue brand differentiation. However, the area remains neglected and under researched (Pangarkar et al., 2021; Blonski and Witek, 2019; Lloyd & Pennington, 2020), and our research attempts to add in this direction.

In particular, the study answers the very rudimentary question of what could be the drivers of minimalist consumption. Based on a literature review, five drivers were proposed and then tested. Second, the study answers whether minimalistic consumption really brings well-being to consumers. Third, that if it at all brings consumer well-being, how and why does it do so. These are very basic yet profound questions.

Millennials occupy a significant portion of the world population (Dimock, 2019). They have good buying power, and their spending is projected to grow in future (Morgan Stanley, 2019) and are the future front runners in generational spending power. Despite the fact that minimalism is an important consideration for this generation, this area remains neglected and unexploited. Very few studies have been done to investigate minimalism, its antecedents, and its subsequent impact on consumer well-being (Balderjahn, & Wiedmann, 2016; Blonski & Witek, 2019; Lloyd & Pennington, 2020; Pangarkar et al., 2021; Chabot, 2020; Kang et al., 2021; Tosun & Sezgin, 2021; Wilson & Bellezza, 2022). Therefore, a study is warranted to bridge this gap. The current study fills this gap by understanding the antecedents of minimalism and further, examining its subsequent impact on well-being of consumer.

The findings of the study will help marketers to better develop strategies for minimalistic consumers. As minimalists want high-quality products with fewer options, this requires a different marketing strategy. Therefore, the findings will help in the development of marketing strategies with respect to targeting, engaging, and addressing the needs of minimalist consumers.

2 Theoretical framework and hypothesis development

Minimalism is a new trend that opposes a capitalist society based on consumption. Getting rid of the extraneous items from life allows people to concentrate on what matters most. This being the essence of minimalism aids in challenging the culture of consumerism, which in turn will improve our environment and motivate people to value experiences over goods. Since consumerism and materialistic values have potentially negative repercussions for individuals and society (Kasser 2002), the current study has proposed a framework (Fig. 1) to explain minimalism. All proposed relationships in the framework have been supported by the relevant literature. Five antecedents, namely: environmental concern, resource sharing, normative influence, voluntary simplicity, and modern aesthetics, have been taken as an antecedents of minimalism. The model further studies the impact of minimalism on the well-being of millennials as it is important to understand the mechanisms by which a lifestyle of minimalism increases well-being. The well-being of millennials can also be increased via a sense of fulfilment. As a result, in the proposed framework, sense of fulfilment has been chosen as the mediating variable for the relationship between minimalism and well-being.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Conceptual framework

2.1 Environmental concern and minimalism

Environmental concern (EC, hereafter) is a measure of how concerned people are about environmental issues (Cruz & Manata, 2020). It is defined as a person’s awareness of environmental issues and readiness to participate in problem solving (Kirmani & Khan, 2016). EC is linked to emotions, knowledge, and the willingness to modify one’s behaviour (Akehurst et al., 2012). Research suggests a positive association between environmental concern and pro-environmental consumption (De Canio et al., 2021; Wang, 2016). Environmentally friendly behaviours are those that aim to reduce overall consumption or have a lower environmental impact (Prinzing, 2020). Consumers’ inclination towards ecology guides them in consuming less and reducing waste. Simple consumption offers a new path for reducing negative environmental effects in this context (Etzioni, 1998; Huneke, 2005; Shaw & Newholm, 2002).

The adoption of minimalism emphasizes more on ecology and sustainability. EC has had a significant impact on consumer decisions and activities and has been a critical factor impacting consumption choices and actions (Dursun et al., 2016). Individuals and society have suffered undesirable consequences as a result of consumerism and materialistic beliefs (Kasser 2002). Environmentally conscious consumers are more likely to exhibit minimalistic behavior, and environmental concern has been claimed as a motivator for minimalism (Dursan et al., 2016).

Within the voluntary simplicity setting, Iwata (1999) discovered a favourable association between ecological consciousness, health consciousness, and mindful attitudes in consuming behavior. Consumers’ sensitivity to environmental issues was likely to restrict the amount of new product consumption. There are many environmental benefits associated with minimalistic lifestyle, such as saving resources, recycling, reduction in waste, and reducing carbon footprint (Mcdonald, 2006). People who live minimalist lifestyles have been discovered to exhibit a strong concern for the environment (Lopez Palafox, 2020) as they see it as a panacea to environmental issues. The high sustainability orientation affects consumer choices for sustainable, handcrafted, and recycled products. As minimalism and ecological consumption aims at conserving resources and reducing waste, ecological consumption is taken as a subset of minimalism. Since environmental concern affects choices of consumers and causes them to practice minimalism, we posit that environmental concern encourages consumers to exercise minimalistic behaviour.

H1

Environmental concern leads to minimalism among millennials.

2.2 Resources sharing and minimalism

Sharing of resources is emerging as a new paradigm of consumption, described as peer-to-peer sharing of products and service resources (Mi & Coffman, 2019). The fundamental goal is to share unused resources in a way that boosts efficiency, sustainability, and community (Heinrichs, 2013). Resource sharing refers to the use of products and services by a group of people. Goods that are not regularly utilized and consume a large amount of resources must be shared (Fisk, 1973). Resource sharing has a good impact on the environment (Wu & Zhi, 2016) and results in a reduction of demand for commodities, pollutants, emissions, and carbon footprints (Yate, 2018). Resources sharing saves valuable resources as it allows people to own and useless, allowing them to consume only what they require, reducing resource waste and supporting sustainability. Hence is considered as a step towards minimalism, as minimalism emphasizes on focusing essentials and getting rid of unessential things in life.

Minimalism refocuses resources on the most important aspects of a business, eliminating inefficient processes and goods (Liu & Chen, 2020). If people make better use of what they currently have, they will need a lot fewer goods. There are numerous resources that can be quickly and successfully redistributed and shared. Bike and car sharing systems, as well as web-based peer-to-peer platforms that encompass a wide range of activities, from renting rooms to sharing gadgets and swapping clothes, are notable examples of resources sharing (Heinrichs, 2013).

Resources sharing in the transportation industry has a favourable environmental impact. For example, many people who can afford a car prefer to use the Uber (ridesharing) and BlaBla Car service because of its simplicity and minimalistic style. The sharing aids in the reduction of pollution, environmental damage, parking issues, and traffic congestion. Customers are happier when they contribute to societal well-being and consume responsibly (Matte et al., 2021). The advantage of resource sharing can also be observed in terms of increased health. The sharing of resources not only reduces the waste output but lowers unessential buying and accumulation. Therefore, we propose that sharing of resources encourages minimalism.

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Sharing of resources leads to minimalism.

2.3 Normative influence and minimalism

Consumption is a necessary part of life and minimalists believe in respecting what is important to them by living with less. Social norm pressurizes individuals to behave in a certain way (Axsen and Kurani, 2012). Individuals tend to be prejudiced by the thoughts, approaches, and principles of the group to which they belong, and are likely to munch according to group morals and standards, whether consciously or unconsciously (Escalas & Bettman, 2003). Individual decision making is influenced by society, and academic study refers to this influencing of other people’s decisions as conformity consumption (Roux et al., 2017). The human in us has been searching for value since the beginning of time. Our worth is determined by where others are positioned on our reference map according to social comparison.

Minimalism is influenced by normative demands such as ecological attention and sustainability, which leads to increased pleasure and gratification from contributing to society and environmental challenges (Seegebarth et al., 2016). Minimalism is conduct associated with the concept of well-being, in which consumers examine their social self-identity, social placements, social motives, and social self-interests before declining consumption and the excesses associated with it (Iyer & Muncy, 2009). Minimalism, in our opinion and based on the literature, is a phenomenon in which consumers strongly and violently rubbish to buy specific brands or items due to normative burdens such as sustainability, environmental focus, and societal welfare (Lee et al., 2009).

Consumers think that their actions benefit society, and as a result, they are happier as a result of boycotting unsatisfactory or wasteful purchases (Hutter and Hoffmann, 2011). Consumers are compelled to adopt minimalistic behaviour in order to comply with their social image, which is influenced by normative influence. As a result of this, consumers are drawn to subdued designs and logos that convey elegance and subtlety, contributing to minimalism (Pangarkar et al., 2021). According to normative conduct theory, behaviour is affected by societal norms. As normative influence affects consumption practices and mind guide people towards quality and seeking subdued design, we propose that normative influence leads to minimalism.

H3

Normative influence leads to minimalism.

2.4 Voluntary simplicity and minimalism

Voluntary simplicity refers to the voluntary limitation of material goods ownership and acquisition by one’s own free will (Etzioni, 1998; Huneke, 2005; Shaw & Newholm, 2002). It is essentially a decision people make to own fewer things, and it contributes towards minimalism. The main idea of voluntary simplicity is that by paying less attention to the accumulation and attainment of worldly items, consumers can refocus their finances, attention, and energy into activities that are more meaningful to them and offer fulfilment and happiness (Pangarkar, 2021).

Our forefathers and wise individuals have instilled in us the value of simplicity and a basic way of life. But, as a result of modern paradigm change, consumers are now compelled to spend foolishly for pleasure. Voluntary simplicity is a concept which requires people to be genuine in minimizing or removing the apparent components in their lives in order to emphasize on their self-potential and obligations (Elgin, 1981). It is about deciding to place less emphasis on material possessions in order to find fulfilment in other creative endeavours, hobbies, and interests (Etzioni, 1998).

In recent years, many customers have embraced the notion of voluntary simplicity. People practice simplicity to attain happiness and peace (Tosun and Sezgi, 2021). Voluntary simplicity requires change in attitude and consumption philosophy. Voluntary simplicity and minimalism both aim to reduce distractions and live a more fulfilling life focused on the important things in life. Both are proponents of a “less is more” philosophy. The emphasis is on the necessities, with the goal of having as little as possible beyond that. Minimalism entails decluttering and owning with less material possessions (Millburn & Nicodemus, 2014), whereas voluntary simplicity is a way of life that discards consumer culture’s high consumption, materialistic lifestyles in favour of what is sometimes referred to as “the simple life” or “downshifting (Schor, 1998). Since voluntary simplicity emphasises on redefinition and rethinking of purchase habits in order to maximize utility from minimum consumption (Tosun & Sezgin, 2021), it is considered as an important antecedent of minimalism.

H4

Voluntary simplicity leads to minimalism.

2.5 Modern aesthetic and minimalism

Modern aesthetics are defined as the aesthetics of distinct object experiences. Minimalist architecture has its own unique vocabulary that tries to condense information and streamline form and structure. Minimalist architecture is characterised by the absence of embellishment or decoration and the application of reductive design features. Minimalism is a post-World War II Western art movement that has been greatly influenced by Japanese culture and philosophy. Since then, it has been a popular aesthetic choice that may be seen in contemporary art and design. Minimalism encompasses a wide range of concepts. The tiny house fad, for example, was fuelled in part by the desire to live simply. This minimalist lifestyle reassures people to deliberate what is truly significant in their lives and to remove clutter, both physical and spiritual. Minimalist architecture seeks harmony via simplicity by distilling design down to its core parts and focuses on form, light, space, and materials (Stewart, 2018). While many civilizations strive for aesthetic minimalism, Japan has had the most impact. The visual arts and design are also influenced by minimalism. To achieve a harmony between man-made architecture (Zafarmand et al., 2003) and the environment, minimalist architects frequently combine nature and the interior (Best, 2006). Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect, is a leading example of a modern architect who practises minimalism.

Minimalism in design implies a sense of affluence, intelligence, and elitism. The modern aesthetics do not compromise with quality and opulence (Lloyd & Pennington, 2020). They promise all the characteristics of quality brands in their products. For example, Hermès, a French luxury retail firm, is known for its minimalistic designs, distinct style, and commitment to environmental sustainability and recycling (Pangarkar et al., 2021). Apple is an excellent example of a corporation which has used minimalist design ideals to great success. Their elegant design has become a distinctive and everlasting hallmark of the corporation. IKEA, the leading furniture player, is also modifying products to imbibe the essence of minimalism while ensuring elegance, simplicity, and optimizing storage for their customers.

The minimalist design is a manifestation of modern aesthetic and is being practised in form of tiny houses, sleek design, modular furniture, discreet logos and packaging, colours and shapes, etc. The sole purpose of this is to attain simplicity and essentiality. Nowadays, people are terming it into design nirvana, which is achieved in design through removing all excesses. In line with the above literature, we propound the hypothesis that:

H5

Modern aesthetics leads to minimalism.

2.6 Minimalism and well-being

Mick et al. (2012) define consumer well-being as a condition of flourishing that includes health, happiness, and prosperity. CWB is defined as the satisfaction received from the consumption of goods and services, or the satisfying of requirements, from an economic perspective. Individuals are more satisfied when their demands are met Kressmann, 2006). Consumer well-being has also been described as contentment, with several aspects of consumer life (Lee et al., 2002). Dittmar et al (2014) have found a link between materialistic ideals and diminished well-being, as well as heightened unpleasant emotions. This could be due to the fact that focusing on material possessions diverts our attention away from other aspects of life that bring us joy (Kasser, 2014).

CWB is resurfacing in the marketing profession as a critical societal term, based on the belief that consumption has a significant societal impact. Individuals and society may suffer undesirable consequences as a result of consumerism and materialistic beliefs (Kasser & Ahuvia, 2002). Minimalism being a low consumption lifestyle helps people in reducing unwanted possessions. Freeing up physical spaces allows people to relax and think a little more clearly. It assists us in reducing one’s obsessive thoughts about the future and past and further helps in lessening the importance and influence of troubling thoughts by altering cognitive processes or attitude to focus on the most important thoughts (Kasser, 2004). The concept of conserving’ mental energy’ is an advantage of minimalism that fosters happiness, leaving people with fewer options and not preoccupying their minds with unimportant concerns. Happiness, defined as a feeling of joy and well-being, is derived from activities that individuals consider worthwhile and valuable (Delle Fave et al., 2011). Because a simple lifestyle focuses on close relationships and spirituality, two predictors of happiness, minimalism and happiness, are positively associated.

Minimalist proponents believe that the minimalist lifestyle provides a slew of well-being benefits, including happiness, life gratification, meaning, and enhanced private relationships (Alexander & Ussher, 2012; Anderson & Heyne, 2016). The satisfaction of one’s needs for safety, autonomy, competence, and relatedness has been connected to the relationship between well-being and thrift (Kasser, 2009). People who live a low-consumption lifestyle are happier (Alexander & Ussher, 2012) and have higher levels of life satisfaction, while those who simplify their lives have higher levels of life satisfaction. A study by Kang et al. (2021) found that minimalism promotes flourishing (Positive emotions) while reducing despair.

Lloyd and Pennington (2020) reported increased awareness, replication, mindfulness, and savouring as a result of minimalism which help people feeling better and experiencing more positive feelings (Lomas & Ivtzan, 2016). Since minimalism is a way of living that focuses on personal well-being and environmentally friendly consumption, in line with above, we believe that it leads to improved well-being and propose that:

H6

Minimalism has positive impact on the well-being of millennials.

2.7 Mediation of sense of fulfilment on minimalism and well-being relation

Minimalism is a trendy low-consumption way of life in which people live with fewer possessions. Supporters of the minimalist lifestyle believe that it brings a host of health benefits, including happiness, life satisfaction, meaning, and improved human connections (Lloyd & Pennington, 2020). A minimalist lifestyle involves shaping what is most important in your life and having the strength to let go of the rest. Embracing minimalistic lifestyle creates space to acquire mental clarity on the things in life that offer a person the most joy. In a physical sense, minimalism allows a person to be more organised in day-to-day life because it reduces visual pollution, which would otherwise prohibit them from establishing a space that truly defines them as a person without compromising their passions or aesthetic preferences.

Minimalists frequently prioritize having a rich experience in having a lot of money. It allows them to spend time in activities and hobbies that enhance their creativity and help them in growing as a person. Pursuing activities and hobbies which add value to their life enhances a feeling of self-fulfilment of satisfaction among them. A study by Capgemini Research Institute (2020) reveals that 79% of consumers are willing to shift their purchasing habits based on social responsibility, inclusion, or environmental effect. Since minimalism is equated with behaviour which is sustainable and environmental supportive, practising it gives people a sense of satisfaction that they are contributing to environment (Lopez Palafox, 2020). Further, this behaviour resonates well with their inner desire as an individual to contribute to society and environment (Fredrickson, 2001).

Boujbel and D’Astous (2012) found that voluntary simplifiers are content and have greater levels of life satisfaction. Further, those who engage in higher levels of simplifying behaviours experience higher levels of life satisfaction (Rich et al., 2017). Removing non-essentials establishes a stronger sense of self and feeling a higher sense of purpose in life (Murphy, 2018). It gives people more time for self-reflection, time to connect with family and friends, and time to give back and affect others by managing life’s excess and refocusing their attention on contribution to consumption (Hausen, 2019). As minimalist proponents claim that the lifestyle leads to “happiness, fulfilment, and independence”, we propose that minimalism inculcates sense of fulfilment among consumers.

The sense of fulfilment is one’s contentment and satisfaction. Fulfilment is a cheerful, contented experience in terms of emotions. A minimalist lifestyle means deciding what matters most in life and having the courage to let go of the rest. When people eliminate the unnecessary, they gain time and the capability to focus on the things that are truly important in their lives (Jain et al., 2020).

Minimalism is an antidote to this overabundance. The minimalistic behaviour gives more self-reflection, time to connect with family and friends, and time to give back and affect others by managing life’s excess and refocusing attention on contribution over consumption. Removing non-essentials establishes a stronger sense of self among people and feeling a higher sense of purpose in their life and helps in learning to manage society’s materialistic impulses and persistent noise. People achieve a greater sense of fulfilment when they indulge in behaviour which is pro-environmental and sustainable. They fell more content and satisfied towards their life by supporting society and environment (Kang et al., 2021). Buying goods which support sustainability and helps in conserving environment causes positive emotions among people which in turn improves well-being of consumers. When people have a sense of purpose, their self-esteem and strength naturally rise. As a feeling of purpose provides people with the foundation for a healthy lifestyle, and comes by involving in productive and meaningful behaviour, on the basis of above literature, we propose that:

H7

The sense of fulfilment mediates the minimalism and well-being relation.

3 Methodology

3.1 Participants

The sample of the study consists of millennials (Table 1). Millennials were chosen for three reasons. With their growing numbers in the working age population, millennials, the population group between 18 and 40 years old, are poised to take centre stage in consumer markets and can change India’s consumption story (Siji, 2021). Second, they are the largest consuming class and more likely to emerge as a significant segment in the future (Stanley, 2019). Third, they are more oriented towards sustainability and exhibit ecological behaviour (Balunde et al., 2019). A total of 482 responses were received through an online survey. Male and female proportions were 53 percent and 47 percent, respectively. The 18–25 age group had the most respondents, followed by the 35–40 age group. The high number of the respondents was placed in the income group 60,000–80,000 followed by 80,000 above category.

Table 1 Demographic profile

3.2 The instrument

Questionnaire was planned in two sections. The first section provides information on demographics, and the second section contains items to measure constructs. The study has used existing scales to measure the proposed constructs. The scales have been modified to make them more relevant for the current context. The constructs were measured using an established scale, although the phrasing of the scale items was slightly adjusted to be more consistent. Environmental concern and normative influence have been measured using five items each, whereas six items were used to measure minimalism and well-being. Sense of fulfilment and modern aesthetics are measured using four items each and resource sharing with the help of three items. Voluntary simplicity and normative influence have been measured using seven and nine items, respectively. Existing scales were taken to measure voluntary simplicity (Cordeauet Dube, 2008; Kaiser & Wilson, 2004), minimalism (Iwata, 2006), normative influence (Bearden et al., 1989), and environmental concern (Lee, 2009). To measure sense of fulfilment, resources sharing, and modern aesthetics, scales were developed and tested for reliability and validity. For all constructs, the Cronbach alpha was higher than the suggested 0.7 (Sekaran, 2003). The content validity was evaluated by experts. The scales used in the study were considered fit for further study because of their good reliability and validity. The Likert scale has been used for measuring scale items in which strong agreement is expressed in 5 and 1 denotes a serious disagreement.

3.3 Procedure for data collection

A pre-test with two marketing experts and three research academics was undertaken before the primary data collection to determine the language and sequencing. A 30-person pilot research was carried out following a few minor tweaks to ensure that the responses were correct and complete practical. After correcting errors found in the pilot survey, an online survey based on google form was carried out to collect the data. Structured questionnaire was framed to get the respondent’s opinion on minimalism and its subsequent impact on well-being. A screening question of sustainability and environmental knowledge was added at the beginning of the questionnaire to filter the respondents. As response rate in online data collection is generally low (Wright & Schwager, 2008), a large database of 3000 emails was developed for the online survey. The database included participants of only 18–40 age group as millennials are the targeted population for the study. Questionnaires were e-mailed to respondents in October 2021, across India along with a cover letter containing an invitation to participate in the survey and apprising them of the purpose of the study. A detailed instruction was issued to respondents regarding how to fill the questionnaires. One-month timeframe was kept to receive the responses. Only 60% of the responses were received in the given timeframe; therefore, a reminder was issued to respondents who did not respond timely. Total 521 questionnaires were received, out of which 39 questionnaires were found incomplete. The response rate of 10% is considered good enough in online surveys (Deutskens et al., 2004). Total 482 questionnaires were considered for final analysis.

4 Data analysis and results

The PLS-SEM approach was utilised to test the suggested model (Cheah et al., 2020; Hair et al., 2019). PLS-ability SEM’s to deal with higher-order reflective-formative constructs (Sarstedt et al., 2019), mediation (Nitzl et al., 2016), and higher-order reflective-formative constructs warrant its inclusion in our study. The structural model was measured and evaluated using the Smart PLS v3.3.2 software. A two-step strategy for data analysis has been used, as suggested by Hair et al. (2019). In the first step, the measurement model was examined, and in the second step, the structural model was evaluated.

4.1 Normality test

Multivariate normality is an important assumption in structural equation modelling. We have conducted Mardia test to calculate multivariate normality using MVN package given in R software. The result shows multivariate non-normality as p-value for Mardia’s multivariate skewness (β = 10.085, p < 0.01) and multivariate kurtosis (β = 112.258, p < 0.01) is greater than 0.05. Both p-values of skewness and kurtosis statistics should be greater than 0.05 to conclude multivariate normality. Therefore, the violation of multivariate normality justifies the use of smart PLS.

4.2 Common method biasness (CMB)

CMB is a problem in self-reported quantitative studies because it happens when data are taken from a single source (Avolio et al., 1991). CMB degrades validity and has an impact on the structural relationship (Kline, 2015; MacKenzie & Podsakoff, 2012). The study has used Harman’s one-factor method and full collinearity test. First, Harman’s one-factor test was used to confirm the CMB problem, and it revealed that the highest variation explained was 35.484 percent of the overall variance, which is less than the 50% threshold specified (Fuller et al., 2016; Podsakoff et al., 2012). Second, the full-collinearity test provided by Kock (2015) was employed, and the results show that problematic VIF values for all latent components ranged from 1.959 to 2.572, which is below the 3.3 thresholds, indicating that CMB is not an issue in this study.

4.3 Evaluation of measurement model

Construct validity measures the extent to which the results obtained by using measures are in line with the theories on which the model is based. The factor loads of each element are presented in Table 2. For validity of the measurement model, the loading factor of the items can be used (Hair et al., 2017). It should carry all the elements used to measure the building highly. If there are loaded items other than the respective structure, they are authorised to be deleted. Table 2 shows that the construct to which all items belong is loaded significantly to confirm the validity of the content. For all items, the loading factor is greater than 0.7, which shows that the product and the construction fit well. Two items in resource sharing and 3 items from normative influence were dropped from the final model due to poor factor loading. The validity of the content is therefore confirmed. Six items have been deleted by hand loading the factor below 0.7.

Table 2 Construct validity

The AVE is in the range of 0.54 to 0.89. The recommended value is more than 0.5. The AVE values for environmental concern, normative influence, minimalism, modern aesthetic, resources sharing, sense of fulfilment, voluntary simplicity, and well-being are 0.65, 0.60, 0.68, 0.79, 0.54, 0.89, and 0.65, respectively. The values of Cronbach alpha and composite reliability are more than the recommended value 0.7 (Hair et al., 2017). All values of reliability are near to 0.9, implying high uniformity among all items of the constructs. Both reliability measures are acceptable and in line with the suggested values (Fig. 2 and Table 3).

Fig. 2
figure 2

Structural model for minimalism

Table 3 Fornell–Larcker discriminant validity

Discriminant validity tests show how distinctly they are constructed and not correlated (Hair et al., 2017). It is tested by cross loads and criteria. The external loading of the respective product should be higher than that of other structures (cross loading). Table 2 which shows cross loading matrix confirms the validity of discrimination. Cross loadings and Fornell and Larcker (1981) criteria are used to test it. The outer loading of each item with its construct should be greater than the outer loading of things with other constructs (cross loading). Discriminant validity is confirmed from Table 2 which exhibits cross loading matrix.

The two measures were considered being insufficient to understand the discriminatory validity. Therefore, Heterotrait–Monotrait Correlation ratio (HTMT) has therefore been established (Henseler, 2012). This criterion also assesses the correlation between constructs and improves discriminatory validity measures. According to HTMT (Table 4), where two different variables had a correlation value of less than 1, it shows that the two variables are distinct.

Table 4 Heterotrait–Monotrait ratio (HTMT)

4.3.1 Effect size (F 2)

The effects can be defined as follows: size (0.02; small, 0.15; mean and 0.35; large). The effect of this analysis was in the range of 0.21 to 0.41 for minimalism. The effect size of minimalism on well-being was 0.51, which signifies large effect (Table 5).

Table 5 R2, Q2, and f2

4.3.2 Predictive relevance (Q 2)

Value of Q2 defines the predictive accuracy of the model. This can be measured using a blindfolding procedure (Wong, 2013). Q2 (Table 5) has been measured with the help of cross validated communality. The threshold value for cross validated redundancy is zero. If cross verified redundancy values are greater than zero, the construct’s predictive accuracy is reasonable. The blindfolding test results show that values for minimalism, sense of fulfilment, and well-being are greater than zero, and the path model has strong predictive validity.

4.4 Evaluation of structural model

The structural model is shown in Fig. 1. The R square values for the model are 0.67 and 0.33, which means that the model explains 67% and 33% variance in the dependent variables (minimalism and well-being), respectively. The five antecedents of minimalism together explain 67 percent variance in minimalism, and further, minimalism as an exogenous variable explains 33% variance in well-being.

4.4.1 Path coefficients interpretation

This section explains the path coefficients using PLS-SEM. The path coefficients are expressed using standardised regression coefficients. The values of path coefficient range from (+ 1) to (− 1). The closer values to (+ 1) indicate strong positive relationship, whereas (− 1) value indicates negative relationship. Zero signifies no relationship between endogenous and exogenous variable. According to the below-mentioned results, the highest contribution in minimalism is explained by resources sharing (β = 0.34) followed by normative influence (β = 0.27) and modern aesthetics (β = 0.20). The environmental concern and voluntary simplicity each explain 11% variance in minimalism. Further, minimalism explains 13% variation in consumer well-being (Table 6).

Table 6 Summary of hypothesis testing

4.5 The mediation test

Baron & Kenny approach was used to establish mediation. According to Muller et al. for mediation to occur, four conditions must be satisfied. The first condition states that in the absence of mediating variables, the link between dependent and independent variables must be substantial. Second, the predictor variable (EC, RS, NI, MA, VS) must affect the mediating variable (SF) significantly. Third, mediating variable (SF) must affect outcome variable (CW) significantly; controlling the effect of predictor (M) and last indirect effect via mediating variable (M→SF→CW) must be significant. Satisfaction of these four conditions confirms the presence of mediation in the relationship.

To test the mediation of sense of fulfilment on the relationship between minimalism and well-being, bootstrapping analysis was conducted at 95% of confidence interval with 5000 subsamples to find out PLS-SEM means and standard deviations (Hair et al., 2019). Table 7 reports the p values and t statistics for the direct and indirect PLS-SEM model relationship as follows:

Table 7 T test for the direct and indirect effects

The result indicates that direct (M→CW) and indirect effects (M→SF→CW) are significant. The minimalism and well-being relation is significant confirming existence of direct effect, whereas relationship indicating mediation between minimalism and well-being is also significant proving indirect effect. The strength of beta has reduced in the presence of mediating variable indicating partial mediation.

4.6 Importance performance map analysis

Modern aesthetic is the most significant variable as it has high performance and is important as well. Variable having high performance with high importance is considered good. Resource sharing is the most important variable, but it has low performance, whereas environmental concern and voluntary simplicity are less important and have low performance (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3
figure 3

IPMA

5 Discussion

Minimalism is a concept that has gained popularity for good reason in recent times. The advantages of living with less are many. Minimalism is about possessing only what adds value to your life (and the life of the people you care for) and taking away the rest. This paper has taken five antecedents of minimalism and tested the impact of minimalism on consumer well-being. Further, this paper has tested the mediation effect of a sense of fulfilment on minimalism and consumer well-being relationship. All propounded hypotheses have been found significant, and partial mediation of sense of fulfilment has also been confirmed.

The accelerating overuse of natural resources is a serious threat to environment and human being (Fransson & Garling, 1999). The value of research in social and behavioural issues in environmental problems has become clearer now than ever as regards the seriousness of issues such as climate change, depletion of resources and excess consumption (Jianping et al., 2014). Up to 60% of greenhouse gas emissions are a result of consumer behaviour (Palafox, 2020). Additionally, since goods are produced all over the world, the transportation required to bring them to your door significantly adds to air pollution (Oliveira de Mendonca, 2021). Environmental concern on these key issues may help in reducing consumption. Therefore, people’s concerns towards excessive consumerism, incessant consumption, and its subsequent effect on deteriorating environment are important (Yue et al., 2020). Environmental concern has been found as positive and significant antecedents of minimalism (β = 0.11, p < 0.05). Raising environmental concern is key to encourage people for minimalism and more thoughtful consumption (Lopez Palafox, 2020). The concern and knowledge about the deteriorating environment, benefits of recycling, conservation of natural resources, practicing minimalism and its results for future generation, are crucial to sensitise people about their consumption practice (Donnelly et al., 2007).

The sharing of resources is an important way to adopt minimalism. It allows people to exchange goods with one another and increases efficiency by making it easier to exchange resources on demand (Jain & Chamola, 2019). Careful redistribution, sharing, preservation, and recycling are productive processes that not only reduce waste production but also prevent people from unnecessary purchases and accrued (FAO, 2019). Minimalism promotes resources sharing of goods which are not frequently required and consume good amount of resources (Hogan et al., 2021). Resources sharing is a way to achieve sustainability which is key tenet of minimalism and also goal of United Nations (Seferian, 2021). It further helps in better management, improving resources efficiency, and optimisation of resources which is required as resources are finite on the planet (Oberle et al., 2019). The sharing of resources is found to have a significant relationship with minimalism (β = 0.36, p < 0.05). Sharing of resources can cut down the resource usage and enhance environmental performance by saving valuable resources.

Normative influence implies that people sometimes change their way of thinking, behaviour, or values that other people like and accept (Kim et al., 2012). The desire to make a good impression and the fear of embarrassment are key drivers of normative influence at the individual level (Nolan et al., 2008; Moriuchi et al., 2021). When someone cares about the group they are influencing and when they act in front of other members of that group, their normative influence is at its strongest (White & Simpson, 2013). This leads to a more normal form of compliance by people who change their expressions or behaviour. Social pressure and need for group affiliation influence consumption practices of people. The normative influence is found to have a significant relationship with minimalism (β = 0.27, p < 0.05). It exerts pressure on people to adopt minimalistic behaviour which is in conformance with society’s standards and desire. Waste reduction, excessive consumerism, and loss of resources due to excessive consumption are some key issues where society has unanimous expectations and wants people to respond on these issues (Woodson, 2013). Society expect everyone to contribute towards the betterment of the planet by reducing unessential consumption and using recycled products (Salazar et al., 2021). The pressure to conform to societal norms helps people to behave responsibly and adopt minimalism as mode of consumption (Pristl et al., 2021). Therefore, normative influence has proved to be an important dimension of minimalism.

Simplicity begins internally and emphasizes on new thinking because of a need to concentrate on what is worthwhile. This new way of thinking leads to a new lifestyle of reduced consumption and increasing autonomy (Demiessi et al., 2021). The voluntary simplicity aims at reducing consumption purposefully so that people have more time to pursue their hobby and creativity, which are non-materialistic. Voluntary simplicity is positively associated with minimalism (β = 0.11, p < 0.05). This finding is in line with previous findings (Reboucas & Soares, 2021) which say that voluntary simplicity is an antecedent of minimalism (Pangarkar et al., 2021). The adoption of voluntary simplicity is an indicator of responsible consumption and focuses more on self-moderation and self-discipline (Matte et al., 2021). In addition to this, self-control and self-sufficiency are crucial tenets of voluntary simplicity. Self-sufficiency helps people to define their consumption level and thereby pave way for minimalism (Tosun & Sezgin, 2021).

The modern aesthetics focuses on the visual aspect of minimalist behaviour and expresses a smooth and fresh style in art, home design, and fashion. Minimalist architecture seeks to condense content to improve structure and form (Mironova, 2020). It relies on the principle of ergonomics, functionality, and sustainability. People require functionality and practicality that blends with no superfluous embellishments. Further, they expect shapes to be quite uncomplicated, and colours and textures should harmoniously blend (Daugelaite et al., 2021). This way, modern aesthetics save a lot of resources and optimize space by promoting discreet and sleek designs (Haimes, 2020). It also addresses consumer functional requirement without compromising the quality of products. The relationship between modern aesthetics and minimalism has been found significant (β = 0.20, p < 0.05). Therefore, modern aesthetic is an important antecedent of minimalism.

This study has found a positive relationship between minimalism and well-being (β = 0.13, p < 0.05). The finding is parallel to previous findings which corroborate the minimalism and well-being relationship (Hook et al., 2021). Minimalism offers many advantages, including pleasure, satisfaction, well-being, and improved personal relationship (Lloyd & Pennington, 2020). It lowers the stress and anxiety by decluttering the home. The decluttering leads to release of positive emotions (Joy and peacefulness) and saves mental energy which improves the well-being of people. Because it frees up mental space, minimalism fosters excellent conditions for introspection, the creation of fresh insights, and learning (Dopiera, 2017). It provides people more time to reflect on themselves, their relationships with others, and other basic parts of their lives that are beneficial to their welfare. The ability to better manage one’s impulse to consume strengthen the connection between minimalism and well-being (Kang et al., 2021). Minimalists are better able to restrain their consuming urges and further encourage people to concentrate on psychological requirements that have been found to foster psychological development, such as autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Millburn & Nicodemus, 2015). The practice of minimalism causes positive emotions among millennials will improve their well-being. The realisation that minimalism improves environment and saves resources is reasons for positive feelings among millennials (Rathour & Mankame, 2021).

The mediation of sense of fulfilment (M→SF→CW) has been confirmed in the study. The presence of a sense of fulfilment as a mediator weakens the direct effect of minimalism on well-being, thereby confirming partial mediation here (β = 0.17, p < 0.05). Minimalism leads to well-being, but it can also be promoted via a sense of fulfilment. The policy makers must promote feeling of sense of fulfilments among people to encourage minimalism. Indulging in minimalism creates a sense of pride and acknowledgement among people that they have been contributing to society and the environment (Michael et al., 2016). Saving invaluable resources, reducing consumption, and mindful purchasing gratify people, therefore, sense of fulfilments has a significant role in encouraging minimalism (Chabot, 2020). Highlighting and acknowledging their contribution towards environment and society can expedite the growth of minimalism (Oliveira de Mendonca et al., 2021).

6 Theoretical implications

This study has examined the minimalism as a new form of consumption, whereas previously minimalism has been seen in anti-consumerism perspective. The study advances the existing literature on minimalism by identifying its antecedents and establishing minimalism linkage to well-being. It further proposes a comprehensive model to understand minimalism. The study has added a sense of fulfilment as a mediating variable in the literature.

7 Conclusion

Minimalism as a new form of consumption has several benefits for society and the environment and, therefore, must be promoted across the globe. Minimalism improves consumers’ well-being and gives them more time and liberty to pursue activities and hobbies that they are interested in. Second, minimalism as consumption mode, is creating a new segment of customers that are more likely to grow in the future as a result of growing awareness among consumers towards environment. The minimalist lifestyle offers several benefits to individual as well. The less clutter means less time to clean or organise for the family and friends and more hours a day. A minimalist lifestyle gives meaning to what matters in our lives and ultimately guides the whole of our lives. It enables people to concentrate on their priorities, which in turn increase focus and productivity by reducing stress and maintain clutter free environment. The presence of fewer emotional and material needs facilitates decision-making through time reduction and efficiency improvement. Minimalism improves the well-being and health of an individual. The availability of free time and spending quality time with family improves their health. The sense of pride and gratification, they cherish by adopting a minimalistic lifestyle, improves their well-being and emits positive emotions. Further, the donation of items that they do not use anymore, makes them happy as they feel that their purchase does not contribute to climate change. It also fulfils their desire to help and give back to society in some way.

Minimalism has implications for environment and society. This is an excellent way to escape the bonds of consumer culture and buy only things which we really need by taking our lives off the ground. It is an environmentally friendly lifestyle choice, and a number of environmental benefits can be achieved by minimalism without affecting life negatively. Adoption of minimalism results in the reduction of waste and packaging requirement associated with transportation of goods. By decluttering the home, one can also help in reducing carbon footprint which is responsible for large greenhouse gas emission and contribute to reversing the harm done to environment.

Consumerism accounts for up to 60% of greenhouse gas emissions (Benveniste et al., 2018). Increasing carbon footprint is a serious environmental issue which is related to consumption of electricity and gases. The tiny houses will cut down the consumption of energy and gas requirement by individual, thereby improving the environment. The tiny houses, smaller accommodation, living with few possessions and space optimization will pave the way for a better environment and reduce negative environmental impact. Besides environmental impact, the findings of the study will help marketers to better develop strategies for minimalistic consumers. As minimalists want high-quality products with fewer options, this requires a different marketing strategy. Therefore, the findings will help in the development of marketing strategies with respect to targeting, engaging, and addressing the need of minimalist consumers.

8 Limitations & direction for future research

Minimalism, as a deliberate shift in lifestyle, is an honest assessment of one’s exact necessities (Lopez Palafox, 2020). It teaches us to stay away from material abundance by living a minimalist lifestyle. The study has been confined to only millennials, whereas results may differ across different generation other than millennials. Second, the study has taken well-being as a single concept, but future studies may be conducted to know the impact of minimalism on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being separately. As this study is focused on Asian culture, which mostly comprises of developing countries, the connotation of minimalism may have different meaning in different countries. Therefore, the future studies should be conducted in developed countries before generalising the findings. The impact of minimalism in happiness and productivity may be investigated in future studies. Since minimalism is about changing lifestyle, the long-term effect of this lifestyle changes may be an area for future studies. Further as society too affect choices and shape buying behaviour, understanding impact of societal factors on immature millennials behaviour can be another area for future research.