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Consumers’ Perception of Price Premiums for Greenwashed Products: An Abstract

  • Jeonggyu Lee
  • Siddharth Bhatt
  • Rajneesh Suri
  • Prabakar Kothandaraman
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science book series (DMSPAMS)

Abstract

These days’ markets are flooded with products that manufacturers promote as green by adding one or two green attributes to a conventional product. They do so take advantage of consumers’ willingness to pay higher for green products. We examine consumers’ perceptions of such products through a theoretical lens. From a theoretical grounding we predict that:
  • H 1a: When consumers’ motivation to process information is high, both high-priced green and greenwashed products will be perceived high in monetary sacrifice.

  • H 1b: When consumers’ motivation to process information is low, in comparison to a green product, the high price of a greenwashed product will be perceived high in monetary sacrifice.

  • H 2 : Perceptions of ethicality will mediate the evaluation of green and greenwashed products.

Study 1 Sixty undergraduate students participated in the main study for extra credits. We randomly assigned participants to one of the four conditions in a 2 (motivation; low, high) × 2 (greenness, green, greenwashed) between-subjects design. The participants viewed the stimuli which consisted of an all-in-one printer with either one (greenwashed) or six (green) eco-friendly attributes and a fictitious brand name (Envyo) with a price of $399.99. We measured perceived monetary sacrifice, willingness to purchase the printer as well as three covariates. Results: An ANCOVA using individual preference for green products as a covariate showed a significant motivation x greenness effect on perceived sacrifice (F (1, 55) = 4.75, p < 0.05) with no significant effects of the covariates. Participants in the high motivation conditions perceived no significant difference between the two printers on perceived sacrifice (Mgreen = 7.4, Mgreenwashed = 7.1; F (1, 27) = 0.40, p > 0.50). In low motivation conditions, the perceptions of sacrifice were higher for the greenwashed printer (Mgreen = 5.8, Mgreenwashed = 7.0; F (1, 29) = 7.27, p < 0.05).

Study 2a Using an implicit association task (IAT), this study demonstrated the implicit association of greenwashing (green) with unethicality (ethicality) of the firm (Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998). Forty-three undergraduate students participated in the IAT task. Results: Response times were significantly faster in the hypothesis-consistent blocks than those in the hypothesis-inconsistent blocks (F (1, 39) = 41.44, p < 0.001, D = 100). Mean response time in the hypothesis-consistent categories was 1295 milliseconds, compared with 1727 milliseconds in the hypothesis-inconsistent categories.

Study 2b In this study, we measured ethicality concerns explicitly to test for mediation. Fifty-nine participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk were randomly assigned to one of the two conditions in a single-factor (greenness, green vs. greenwashed) between-subjects design. We used the vignettes from Study 1 to manipulate greenness and to create a low motivation to process information. Results from mediation analysis indicate that greenness significantly predicted ethicality (β = 1.41; 95% CI = 0.63 to 2.20), and ethicality significantly predicted perceived sacrifice (β = −0.23; 95% CI = −0.45 to −0.02). As expected, ethicality mediated the relationship between level of greenness and perceptions of sacrifice (indirect effect = −0.33; 95% CI = −0.76 to −0.03).

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeonggyu Lee
    • 1
  • Siddharth Bhatt
    • 1
  • Rajneesh Suri
    • 1
  • Prabakar Kothandaraman
    • 2
  1. 1.Drexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.William Paterson UniversityWayneUSA

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