Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Communication and Information

Major Professor

Eric Haley

Committee Members

Ronald E. Taylor, Michael J. Palenchar, David Schumann

Abstract

Green consumers’ skepticism regarding pro-environmental advertising is the subject of extensive scholarly debate as researchers have conflicting perspectives on whether or not green consumers are indeed skeptical of pro-environmental advertising. These opposing viewpoints are used to support the respective researchers’ assertions regarding how green consumers evaluate pro-environmental advertising. The differing approaches on green consumers’ skepticism toward, and evaluations of, pro-environmental advertising seem to stem from how previous studies have identified green consumers. Inconsistent descriptions of green consumers may thus be the primary issue in this debate. The purpose of this study was therefore (a) to suggest the most appropriate way to identify green consumers, (b) to group green consumers into segments based on their motivations for purchasing pro-environmental products, (c) to reveal each segment’s characteristics, and (d) to explore the differences in the attitudes of the consumers in the segments, particularly their levels of skepticism about pro-environmental products.

Two online surveys were conducted, namely a pre-test and a main test. Amazon Mechanical Turk was used to recruit survey participants for both tests. The responses of 100 participants in the pre-test and 408 in the main test were analyzed. A two-step clustering analysis (i.e., hierarchical and K-means cluster analysis) and one-way ANOVA were used to analyze the data.

Based on the results, six distinct green consumers segments were identified: Segment 1 (With Nature), Segment 2 (Follower), Segment 3 (My Green Life), Segment 4 (Conspicuous Green Life), Segment 5 (All-Rounder), and Segment 6 (Challenger). Accordingly, the different green consumer segments display a wide range of distinct sociodemographic characteristics, media preferences, pro-environmental product usage patterns, and perceptions about their pro-environmental product knowledge. The study findings further suggested inverse relationships between perceived knowledge, skepticism, and attitudes.

The study has several theoretical and practical implications. First, it helps strengthen our insights into the various types of green consumers, and second, it expands our understanding of why they have the skepticism and attitudes that they do. This study also makes recommendations regarding the appropriate target consumers for pro-environmental products and advertising, as well as the advertising strategies that may appeal to these consumers.

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