An empirical investigation of consumers’ green purchase intentions: the roles of perceived green value and utilities of consumption

  • Ruizhi YUAN

    Student thesis: PhD Thesis


    The shift towards a green consumerism has been globally evident since the 1980s. Government, business and individuals have become increasingly aware of the concept of “green” to reduce the environmental footprint of goods and services. These movements have also spawned a dramatic increase in the number of researches into consumer’s green behaviours. Major advances in green consumption literature in the past years have been made with a focus on the following dimensions: personal beliefs (Kilbourne & Pickett, 2008); environmental knowledge (Chan, 2001); environmental attitudes (do Paco et al., 2013); environmental values (Koller et al., 2011); social influence and government policies (Ozaki, 2011) and a set of environmental barriers (Bray et al., 2011). Many of these prior studies have involved models derived from the field of psychology (Ozaki & Sevastyanova, 2011), sociology (Gadenne et al., 2011), and institutional change (Shove, 2010). Although prior studies have paid significant attention to the role of customer perceived value in marketing performance and customers’ purchase decision making process, empirical research on the concept of perceived green value (PGV) is scarce. The term is operated as a unidimensional construct in Chen & Chang (2012) and Haws et al.’ (2014) studies, which are only concerning about the environmental consciousness aspect. However, these findings are limited by not explicitly capturing various motivations for the concept. Therefore, the first objective of this research is to corroborate and further advance the construct of PGV developed by Chen & Chang (2012) and Haws et al (2014) in the green marketing literature. Specifically, it conceptualises the construct as a second-order construct that is created from five reflective first-order constructs: ecological, functional, symbolic, experiential and epistemic values. Second, past literature fails to examine the factors needed to reflect explicitly the value-costs attributes of customers’ purchase behaviours towards green products. To date, there has been limited research into comprehensively understanding customers’ perceptions and the decision making process towards the value vs. monetary cost comparison of green products. Therefore, aiming to supplement existing knowledge on green consumption behaviour, this research adapts the consumption value theory and utility theory framework in the context of green consumption. The Utility Theory provides the conceptual underpinning of this issue by asserting that consumers’ perceived utility of buying a product is derived from the difference between the values of a product (acquisition utility) and the price paid (transaction utility) in a purchase (Thaler, 1985). The second objective of this research is to provide an overview of the interacting effects of PGV with acquisition and transaction utility perceptions on green purchase intention. Third, despite their ethical perceptions, it is often the case that greenly minded consumers rarely purchase green products. This gap is important, yet poorly understood by researchers (Carrington et al., 2010). To bridge this gap, this research further adds support to extant research by showing that the impact of the utilities of consumption on green products purchase intention depends on different types of customers. We introduce three moderating factors: customer innovativeness, customer knowledge and price sensitivity, to further identify the utility-intention gap. Given the weak utility-intention relationships found in many prior studies (e.g. Apaolaza-Audrain et al., 2012), an improved way of assessing the factors through which different customers may weight on purchase intention are warranted. This doctoral research uses the mixed research method. In the first study, this doctoral research integrates the literature on scales of consumption value and ecological value (e.g. Keller et al., 2011; Chen and Chang, 2012) in a green consumption context. The PGV measures were then refined and confirmed through unstructured interviews with people capable of understanding green products. Then a questionnaire is distributed to the customers (n=296) in an online database. The second study adopts the survey strategy and aims to test the whole research model (n=437). The confirmatory factor analysis and validity analysis suggest that the PGV has a high order factor and it has five dimensions: ecological, functional, symbolic, experiential, and epistemic. The Structural Equation Modelling results highlight the importance of PGV having a strong effect on customer’s green product purchase intention. Moreover, it found that the link between PGV and purchase intention is mediated by the acquisition and transaction utilities. The results also suggest that the moderating roles of customer innovativeness and environmental concern in the acquisition utility-purchase intention relationship are proven to be significant, while price sensitivity also has a negative moderating effect on the transaction utility-purchase intention relationship. This research extends the existing green consumption research by first testing a practical five-dimensional scale of perceived green value. The reliabilities, factor analysis and validity tests confirm the multidimensional construct of PGV scale and its five dimensions demonstrate that consumers assess green products, not just in functional terms of expected performance, but also in terms of individuals’ concern to the environment (ecological value), self-expressive benefits of what the green product communicates to others (symbolic value), the enjoyment derived from the green product (experiential value), and interest in green products (epistemic value). Moreover, this research adapts utility theory to build up the conceptual model and adopts the economic view to investigate the mediating roles of acquisition utility and transaction utility in the value-intention relationship. In addition, this doctoral research provides empirical support for the utility-intention gap. The inclusiveness of the moderating effects of individual factors on the utility-intention link calls for the development of better framework to trace the paths involved. This research fills this gap by considering customer innovativeness, environmental concern and price sensitivity to clarify the moderating effects on the probability of customer’s green product purchase intention.
    Date of Award8 Nov 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Univerisity of Nottingham
    SupervisorMartin Liu (Supervisor) & Andrew Smith (Supervisor)


    • Green consumerism

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