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Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products

Hong-Youl Ha
Department of Marketing, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon-si, South Korea, and

Swinder Janda
Department of Marketing, College of Business Administration, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA
Abstract Purpose This research aims to examine behavioral intentions toward purchase of energy-efcient products utilizing the theory of reasoned action framework. Design/methodology/approach Survey data from a sample of 202 shoppers of electrical appliances and small electronic products was utilized to estimate the proposed model. Findings The main nding is that attitude toward energy-efcient product has a stronger effect on intentions compared to the subjective norm component. Research limitations/implications In order to maximize use of their nancial resources, companies marketing energy-efcient products need to focus more on enhancing consumer attitudes toward their brands and spend relatively less on efforts to educate consumers about using energy efcient appliances in general. Practical implications Since attitudes are formed from beliefs and knowledge, use of informational ads that clearly illustrate energy-saving consequences of their specic brands of products will be an effective marketing approach. Originality/value This study is timely considering the recent steady increase in energy prices accompanied by growing environmental concerns among businesses, governments, and consumers. Keywords Attitude formation, Theory of reasoned action, Energy-efcient product, Eagerness of environmental engagement, Energy conservation, Consumer behaviour Paper type Research paper

An executive summary for managers and executive readers can be found at the end of this article.

Introduction
An enhanced sense of concern related to global climate change and increasing media coverage attributed to this issue has led to an increase in number of consumers actively seeking out and adopting energy-efcient products. In a recent multi-country survey, respondents reported that a corporations record of addressing key environmental and climate change issues has a bearing not only on how much they trust the company but also their likelihood of purchasing the companys products (Bonini et al., 2008). Moreover, research suggests that the increasing environmental concern and a greater emphasis on global sustainability issues have in recent years become important priorities of global organizations such as the OECD and the UN (Jansson et al., 2010). Several prior studies have also found, however, that environmentally-conscious people do not show a consistent preference for purchasing environmentally-friendly products
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or in many cases are not willing to pay a premium for such products (e.g. Kilbourne and Pickett, 2008; Ohtomo and Hirose, 2007). Prior research also shows how businesses have had very limited success in terms of marketing products utilizing renewable energy sources (Gleason et al., 1996; Rader and Norgaard, 1996). A good understanding of consumer attitudes toward environmental issues and consumption of green products may be particularly important due to the previously outlined discrepancy between consumer opinions about environmental issues and actual purchase behavior. In order to better understand consumer attitudes toward energy-saving products, it may be important to investigate how environmental attitudes are formed. It has been previously shown, for instance, that a consumer generally concerned about the environment may still not be proactive in a behavioral sense unless he/she feels that individuals can play an active role in positively affecting the environment (Straughan and Roberts, 1999). Thus a study of attitudes in this context can provide meaningful insight into potential purchase behavior. As Eagly and Chaiken (1993, p. 191) reiterate, theories of behavior should consider how people conceptualize and then execute the set of actions required to engage in a consequential behavior.
This research has been supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, NRF-2010-332-B00133.

Journal of Consumer Marketing 29/7 (2012) 461 469 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0736-3761] [DOI 10.1108/07363761211274974]

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Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products H.-Y. Ha and S. Janda

Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 29 Number 7 2012 461 469

Extant research also indicates that consumer attitudes are one of the most relevant predictors of green purchasing decisions (Grob, 1995; Schlegelmilch et al., 1996). Thus, the main focus of this study is to understand consumer attitudes and behavior related to two product categories (energyefcient electronics and appliances) purchased by a wide variety of consumers. This is accomplished by applying the theory of reasoned action [hereafter referred to as TRA] (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975) in the context of energy-efcient product purchases. The ultimate goal of this study is to further understand consumer purchase behavior toward green products and provide managerial implications for the benet of companies that market such products. This study aims to contribute to the body of research on energy-efcient products in two important ways. First, by applying the TRA framework to the context of energyefcient product purchases, we extend the overall body of theoretical knowledge surrounding the Theory of Reasoned Action. Second, we empirically demonstrate that our attitude formation model for energy-efcient products has distinct behavioral implications. A deeper understanding of the consumer attitude formation process obtained from different global markets contributes insights useful in predicting actual consumer behavior related to energy-efcient products. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows: we rst outline key theoretical perspectives and summarize the proposed hypotheses. Thereafter, we provide an overview of the methodology, analysis procedures, and key results. The last part of the paper delves into the discussion and implications of this research and potential avenues for future research.

behavior has been established. In an attempt to minimize this criticism, we attempt to extend the theoretical framework proposed by Bang et al. (2000), who have previously applied the TRA to understand behavioral intentions in the renewable energy industry. The major constructs studied in this research include knowledge and beliefs related to the energy-efcient product being evaluated, condence of consequence, environmental awareness, and eagerness of environmental engagement. We included environmental awareness and eagerness of environmental engagement in the study in order to better understand the subjective norm component of the TRA and in this sense to build on Bang et al.s (2000) ndings. Figure 1 outlines the framework of hypothesized relationships, which are discussed in detail in the following section.

Conceptualization and research hypotheses


Consumer knowledge is comprised of two major components: familiarity and expertise. Familiarity, or product related experience, is the rst component of product knowledge, while the more profound component of product knowledge is expertise, or the ability to perform product-related tasks (Alba and Hutchinson, 1987; Cordell, 1997). Product knowledge can include objective or subjective components. We argue that in the context of environmental sustainability, objective knowledge may be a stronger contributor to the formation of consumer attitudes. Consumers who plan to purchase durable products such as refrigerators or washing machines may have little objective experience with a specic brand of the product (compared to the situation of purchasing a frequently replaced item). Thus, their perceptions and beliefs about energy-efcient products as well as the environment will be shaped positively by objective factual information (Farhar, 1996). In the context of TRA, energy-saving products which are marketed as contemporary product innovations (and energy efcient devices) should enhance consumer beliefs. Bang et al. (2000) highlight that knowledge about green products leads to stronger beliefs about benets of the use of green products and to more positively balanced beliefs about the impact of product use. Thus we propose the following hypothesis: H1. Consumer knowledge will positively affect beliefs about energy-efcient products.

Overview of the theoretical framework


The theory of reasoned action (TRA) posits that an individuals behavior is determined by his/her behavioral intention, which in turn is dened as a function of attitude toward the behavior and subjective norm (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). The theory thus predicts intention to perform a behavior by the attitude toward that behavior rather than by attitude toward a product or service. This perspective may be particularly useful for predicting behavior in the energy-saving industry because in this context consumers often decide to perform behaviors that they can associate with desirable outcomes (Bang et al., 2000). For instance, a shopper may possess a favorable attitude toward an inexpensive refrigerator and may view that option as more affordable. However, while looking at different alternatives, s/he may decide on a highperformance energy-saving refrigerator. The nal intention to purchase this particular product (even though it may often be a more expensive option) may be inuenced by beliefs about the positive consequences of purchasing this product (in an environment where the issue of global warming gains increasing prominence) and the individuals level of motivation to comply with those normative beliefs (Hansen et al., 2004). An attitude has been noted in prior research as an evaluative appraisal (Bagozzi, 1992). If an individual makes favorable (unfavorable) evaluative judgments, then attitudes will lead to intentions to perform (or not) the behavior. However, the TRA applies only to behaviors in which no external or internal impediments exist that may potentially prevent the behavior after the intention to perform the 462

Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) propose a relationship that links beliefs, attitude, intentions, and behaviors. Beliefs inuence a consumers overall attitude about an object. Beliefs often reect commonly available evidence about product characteristics that helps enhance peoples psychological comfort (Jervis, 2006). However, we argue that specic beliefs about consequences of energy-efcient products will affect specic attitudes toward use of an environmentally friendly product [rather than general beliefs about a concern for the environment] (Gardner and Stern, 1996; Hines et al., 1986/1987; Mainieri et al., 1997; Tanner and Kast, 2003). Thus the following hypothesis: H2. Stronger beliefs about engaging in behaviors favoring energy-efcient products will positively affect consumer attitudes toward energy-efcient products.

TRA posits that beliefs are based on knowledge, or that which the individual perceives to be true. Research in the decisionmaking realm has dened condence as an individuals belief

Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products H.-Y. Ha and S. Janda

Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 29 Number 7 2012 461 469

Figure 1 Model

that his/her judgment is accurate (Berger, 1992) or that future events will occur as expected (Siegrist et al., 2003). As noted previously, both belief and condence are psychologically classied as similar perceptions, but the degree of condence reects how sure the consumer is that the product addresses a genuine issue [it represents an environmental benet in this context] (McDonald and Oates, 2006). Thus, condence should be considered as an evaluation of consequences in the TRA. Self-condence has been cited as an important construct for understanding consumer behavior. Similarly, psychological condence is a fundamental aspect of human judgment and thought (Tormala et al., 2008). Condence is a cognitive component that reects the degree of conviction or certainty with which an attitude is held (Berger and Mitchell, 1989; Krishnan and Smith, 1998). In the context of this study, condence is dened as the extent to which an individual feels capable and assured with respect to his/her marketplace decisions related to energy-efcient products (Bearden et al., 2001). As such, condence reects subjective evaluations of ones ability to generate positive experiences as a consumer in this context (Adelman, 1987). Prior research has shown that attitudes play a more prominent role in choice behavior when they are condently held (Fazio, 1990; Krishnan and Smith, 1998). This stance is supported by Straughan and Roberts (1999) who found that consumer condence about the likelihood of affecting desirable outcomes had a strong effect on their attitudes and responses to environmental appeals. Correspondingly, research shows that people are more likely to engage in behavior related to environmental causes when they believe that they have the capability to help solve environmental problems through their behavior (Axelrod and Lehman, 1993; Grob, 1995; Tanner, 1999). Based on this discussion, the following hypotheses are proposed: H3. H4. Consumer condence will be positively related to attitude toward energy-efcient products. Attitudes toward energy-efcient products are positively related to behavioral intentions. 463

The present model proposes that the more conscious individuals are of the current state of the environment, the more likely they will be to act in an environmentally conscious way (Grob, 1995; Maloney and Ward, 1973). From a TRA perspective, environmental awareness may be considered a determinant of subjective norm. The environmental awareness is represented by environmental knowledge and the recognition of environmental problems (Grob, 1995). In pertinent situations, it should then be directly linked to whether environmental attitudes predict actual behavior. We propose that a heightened sense of environmental awareness may enhance a consumers sense of moral obligation, and in turn, indirectly affect environmental behaviors (OConnor et al., 1999). Since a personal norm, e.g. a feeling of moral obligation, is a powerful motivator of environmental behavior (Hopper and Nielsen, 1991; Tanner and Kast, 2003), we can expect a positive correlation between environmental awareness and subjective norm. This leads to the following hypothesis: H5. Environmental awareness is positively related to subjective norms.

Subjective norm refers to the inuence of ones group of signicant others on his/her behavior (Young and Kent, 1985). Because the subjective norm is equal to the sum of the strength of each normative belief times the motivation to comply (Buchan, 2005), we propose it should positively affect consumer eagerness. Eagerness is conceptualized as a desire to take action and is similar to the desire measure adopted by Fitzmaurice (2005) and Perugini and Bagozzi (2001). We dene it as the extent to which an individual has a strong internal drive to engage in an activity. This study uses eagerness to indicate a proactive stance toward environmental activity. Much research has suggested that consumers vary in their eagerness to engage in a new behavior (Bargh, 2002; Fitzmaurice, 2005). Consumer eagerness has been shown to encourage consumers to reach toward desired end states and in that sense eagerness would be expected to trigger a drive to engage in opportunities supporting sustainability goals (Pham

Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products H.-Y. Ha and S. Janda

Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 29 Number 7 2012 461 469

and Avnet, 2004). Thus strong subjective norms related to engaging in an environmental behavior would enhance consumer eagerness if consumers feel that doing so would improve the current environment. More specically, such norms foster a more eager form of environmental behavior, in which the consumer is more willing to engage in the proactive environmental activity which leads to further behavioral intentions (Carver, 2001). This is also consistent with the idea that subjective norms based on environmental motivations should encourage behavioral intentions (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). Thus, H6. H7. H8. Subjective norms will positively affect consumer eagerness. Eagerness will positively affect behavioral intention. Subjective norms will positively affect behavioral intention.

Methodology
Participants and procedure Well-established electronics and appliance stores were selected in order to sample for respondents. A total of 320 hand-delivered surveys were distributed to consumers outside Technomart and Etland in Seoul, South Korea. Etland is the number one store and Technomart is the second one by sales volume in the capital city of South Korea. Respondents who had recently purchased energy-saving products (e.g. bulbs, air conditioners, TV, fridges, and washing machines) were selected into the sample. In each case, the primary shopper was asked to ll out the survey instrument. 218 surveys were returned, representing a response rate of 68.1 per cent. Due to missing information and inadequate responses, a total of 202 usable questionnaires were obtained. Participants were 72 males and 130 females ranging in age from 26 to 57 years with a mean age of 41.3 years (s.d. 7.14). In terms of gender distribution, the proportion of women in our sample (64.3 per cent) was found to be higher than the corresponding proportion in the nationwide population (51 per cent). This is reective of the South Korean context where shopping on behalf of the household is still done more by women than by men. In total 37 percent of participants indicated that their gross income was less than $30,000, 46 percent between $30,000 and $50,000, 13 percent more than $50,000 and for 4 percent of the respondents these data were missing. The distribution of highest educational level attained showed 24 percent had completed high school, 68 percent had completed a college or university degree, and 8 percent had attained a master or doctoral degree. Response bias was also examined using the method proposed by Armstrong and Overton (1977). One viable check for non-response bias is to split the sample into early (n 126) and late respondents (n 76). Both comparisons showed that the subjects demographic proles were similar, and that ratings on various measures included in the study were statistically similar. Thus, we are reasonably assured that the data set used in this study is not biased. Measures All constructs were measured via ve-point Likert scales mainly because this type of scale has been shown to be robust even in non-US cultural settings (Flaskerud, 1988). The six 464

constructs measured were the following: knowledge [with four items adapted from Bang et al. (2000) and Tanner and Kast (2003)]; belief [with three items adapted from Bang et al. (2000) and Mainieri et al. (1997)]; condence [with three items adapted from Tanner and Kast (2003)]; environmental awareness [with three items adapted from Grob (1995)]; subjective norm [with four items adapted from Tanner and lander (2006)]; and Kast (2003) and Thgersen and O attitude [with four items adapted from Tanner and Kast (2003)]. To measure consumer attitude toward energy-saving products, measurement scales for eagerness and behavioral intention were developed based on the guidelines suggested by Churchill (1979). We rst conducted in-depth discussions with 27 shoppers to generate the initial pool of scale items (these individuals were different from those who participated in the main study). Two academic researchers then evaluated this pool of items for face validity. Based on their feedback, several items were deleted or modied. We then conducted a focus group study with 14 shoppers. Inputs from these respondents were used to further rene and modify the nal items. Based on these procedures, we ended up with a threeitem scale for eagerness and a two-item measure for behavioral intentions.

Results
Conrmatory factor analysis As shown in Table I, the CFA measurement model provided a good t to the data. While the chi-square statistic was signicant ( p , 0.01), it is known to be highly sensitive to sample sizes (Jo reskog, 1993), so various alternative t statistics were computed [e.g. the comparative t index (CFI); the non-normed t index (NNFI); and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA)]. Values in the mid- to high- 0.90 range indicate good t for the CFI and NNFI, and values of 0.80 and less indicate good t for the RMSEA (Hu and Bentler, 1999). The CFI estimate was 0.987. The RMSEA estimate was 0.057, indicating that the t is good because the RMSEA is the least affected by sample size (Sharma et al., 2005). Similarly, the NNFI estimate was 0.965 which further supports the adequacy of the measurement model. Composite reliability was calculated using the procedures outlined by Fornell and Larcker (1981). We examined the parameter estimates and assessed the average variance extracted for each construct (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988; Bagozzi and Yi, 1988). The composite reliabilities for the eight constructs ranged from 0.82 to 0.89. The average variance extracted ranged from 0.54 to 0.76. The factor loadings ranged from 0.610 to 0.862 ( p , 0.01). In a conrmatory factor analysis, each measure also loaded signicantly on the expected constructs, which demonstrates convergent validity. On the basis of the validation sample, we assessed discriminant validity with Fornell and Larckers (1981) criterion. Table II shows that the smallest AVE exceeds the squared correlation between each pair of the relationship value dimensions. This indicates a satisfactory level of discriminant validity.

Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products H.-Y. Ha and S. Janda

Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 29 Number 7 2012 461 469

Table I Loadings of all measurement items using CFA


Variables Knowledge How familiar are you with energy-efcient products? How knowledgeable are you about energy-efcient products? Energy-efcient appliance is more appropriate for the environment than conventional cost-saving appliance Energy-efcient appliance is produced by the environmentally friendly process. Belief I believe that being environmentally conscious when buying does not directly benet the environment How important is the environment when considering energy-efcient products How important is reliability when considering energy-efcient products Condence I believe in the quality guarantee of energy-efcient products I trust my own judgment when deciding which appliances to consider I am very condent about which appliances are worth considering for the environment Environmental awareness The main cause of the climate change is a lack of environmental risk perceptions Current environmental situations are very serious for our future Without innovation, conventional production is a serious environmental problem Subjective norm Everyone has a responsibility to contribute to environmental preservation by purchasing energysaving products I feel morally obligated to refrain from buying the conventional cost-saving products I get a bad conscience if I choose conventional instead of energy-saving products I accept and carry out the environmental activity even though it is different from me Eagerness I like helping the current climate change I like engaging in the environmental campaign I can be very enthusiastic if my action helps the planet Attitude It is not important to me whether the product is energy-saving or not Environmental protection is important to me when making purchases If I can choose between energy-saving and conventional products, I prefer energy-saving one I have a favorable attitude toward purchasing an energy-saving product Behavioral intention The probability that I will buy the energy-saving product is very high I will buy an energy-efcient product in a more effective way x2 5 517.328; DF 5 271 CFI 5 0.987; NNFI 5 0.965; RMSEA 5 0.057 Note: CR=Composite Reliability CR 0.85 AVE 0.59 0.618 0.736 0.771 0.693 0.87 0.70 0.816 0.772 0.630 0.88 0.71 0.734 0.783 0.739 0.84 0.65 0.718 0.675 0.716 0.82 0.54 0.781 0.828 0.624 0.610 0.89 0.73 0.680 0.791 0.862 0.88 0.65 0.776 0.740 0.660 0.727 0.89 0.76 0.770 0.816 Loadings

Table II Discriminant validity


Mean 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Knowledge Belief Condence Environmental awareness Subjective norm Eagerness Attitude Behavioral intention 3.11 2.88 3.25 3.48 3.39 3.36 3.22 2.66 SD 0.86 0.96 0.66 0.87 1.01 0.93 0.91 1.12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

a
0.77 0.78 0.79 0.74 0.73 0.82 0.81 0.77

0.59 0.41 0.42 0.38 0.31 0.43 0.38 0.44

0.70 0.49 0.45 0.37 0.51 0.45 0.53

0.71 0.46 0.38 0.51 0.46 0.53

0.65 0.35 0.47 0.42 0.49

0.54 0.39 0.35 0.41

0.73 0.47 0.55

0.65 0.49

0.76

Notes: Italic numbers on the diagonal show the AVE. a is Cronbachs Alpha

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Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products H.-Y. Ha and S. Janda

Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 29 Number 7 2012 461 469

Structural equation model results


The structural model revealed a x2 of 678.231 (df 288; p , 0:01; x2 =df 2:355), CFI of 0.921, TLI of 0.903, and RMSEA of 0.065. All relationships proposed by the model were signicant, except for the path from subjective norm to eagerness of environmental engagement. Overall t was excellent. The squared multiple correlations for the structural equations were as follows: belief about energyefcient product, 0.25; attitude toward the product, 0.72; subjective norm, 0.16; eagerness of environmental engagement, 0.23; and behavioral intention, 0.43. Thus, a substantial proportion of variance in each of these constructs is explained. H1, predicting a positive relationship between consumer knowledge and beliefs, was statistically signicant ( b 0:49; p , 0:001). The proposed relationship ( H2 ) between beliefs and attitude toward energy-efcient products was also signicant in the current data (b 0:72; p , 0:001). H3, predicting a positive relationship between consumer condence and attitude toward energy-efcient products, was also supported (b 0:32; p , 0:001). H4, predicting a key relationship between attitude and intention, was strongly positive (b 0:46) and signicant at p , 0.001. The proposed relationship (H5) between environmental awareness and subjective norm was supported ( b 0:40; p , 0:001), but interestingly, the proposed relationship (H6) between subjective norm and eagerness was not statistically signicant. Further, the proposed relationship ( H7 ) between eagerness and behavioral intention was also supported (b 0:27; p , 0:01). Finally, H8, predicting one of key relationships of TRA between subjective norm and behavioral intention, was positive (b 0:25) and signicant at p , 0.01. In general, the results of the proposed model are consistent with those of prior TRA studies. However, we nd a nonsignicant relationship between subjective norm and eagerness of environmental engagement. In other words, our study failed to nd evidence of whether subjective norm enhances a consumers eagerness of environmental engagement.

Discussion and managerial implications


This study draws on the TRA framework to understand consumers decisions related to purchasing energy efcient products. This study is relevant in todays environment as the recent spike in global energy prices and growing concerns for the natural environment (Jansson et al., 2010) has led consumers toward seeking out energy-efcient green products. A sample of respondents in South Korea is utilized to empirically evaluate a proposed model that looks at the effect of attitudes and subjective norm components on behavioral intention in this context. Belief about energyefcient product being considered and condence of consequence are tested as predictors of attitude toward the energy-efcient product. Similarly, environmental awareness is used as a predictor of subjective norm. In addition, the model also looks at how eagerness of environmental engagement affects behavioral intention. Overall, the proposed model successfully accounts for 43 percent of the 466

variance explained in predicting intention to engage in the behavior of purchasing the energy-efcient product. A notable nding of the research is that even though both attitude and subjective norm had signicant effects on behavioral intention as the TRA would suggest, the effect of attitude on behavioral intention is much stronger (b 0:46; p , 0:001) than the effect of subjective norm on behavioral intention (b 0:25; p , 0:01). The implication of this nding in this context is that companies marketing energy-efcient products need to make sure that potential consumers have strong favorable attitudes toward their brand of such products. Since attitudes are formed from beliefs and knowledge, such companies need to utilize informational advertisements that clearly illustrate the energy-saving consequences of their particular brands of such products. Lack of clear, detailed information related to environmentally-friendly products has often been cited as a challenge faced by consumers (Pickett-Baker and Ozaki, 2008). One way of accomplishing this (in the context of an appliance) would be to use a factual, comparative approach where the featured energy-saving appliance would be illustrated as saving a considerable percentage of energy over a regular appliance (non energy-efcient appliance). Figures related to the monetary amount of energy savings per year can similarly be added to such advertisements in order to make a compelling argument. Our research shows that even though general environmental awareness and normative inuences will positively affect behavior, promotions focusing on informational appeals must be used to effectively inuence potential consumers in this context. The relationship between subjective norm and eagerness of environmental engagement has previously been established (Fitzmaurice, 2005), but the current study did not nd this link to be signicant. However, the results do indicate that a higher level of eagerness of environmental engagement has a positive and signicant effect on behavioral intention (b 0:27; p , 0:01). The implication of these ndings is that someones intention to engage in the purchase of an energy-efcient product may be shaped by how much he/she feels that his/her behavior is empowering in terms of affecting the environment in a positive way. Thus even though factual and informational promotions featuring the focal brand would be effective in affecting behavioral intentions in this context (as pointed out previously), at the same time, strategies focusing on general information about the necessity of protecting the environment and saving resources would also play a role in affecting intentions.

Limitations and future research


Several limitations exist in terms of the generalizability and interpretation of the results of the study. First, this study did not nd the relationship between subjective norm and eagerness to be signicant, which is contrary to previous research ndings. Future research may need to look further into this relationship. Second, future research needs to examine our model in the industrial purchasing context (in place of nal consumers). This would be pertinent as industrial purchasers are typically responsible for high levels of energy use (compared to nal consumers). Third, it would be important to test the robustness of this model by replicating it in other contexts outside of South Korea.

Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products H.-Y. Ha and S. Janda

Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 29 Number 7 2012 461 469

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Chan, R.Y.K. (2001), Determinants of Chinese consumers green purchase behavior, Psychology & Marketing, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 389-413. Lewis, G.J. and Harvey, B. (2001), Perceived environmental uncertainty: the extension of Millers scale to the natural environment, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 201-33.

About the authors


Dr Hong-Youl Ha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Kangwon National University in Korea. He obtained his PhD from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia and his articles have been previously published in the European Journal of Marketing , International Marketing Review, Service Industries Journal , Journal of Services Marketing, among others. Dr Swinder Janda is a Professor of Marketing and The Paul Edgerley Endowed Chair in Global Business at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA. He has published numerous times in journals such as Psychology & Marketing, European Journal of Marketing, International Journal of Service Industry Management, International Marketing Review, Journal of Brand Management, and Journal of Consumer Marketing, among others. Swinder Janda is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: Swinder@ksu.edu

Executive summary and implications for managers and executives


This summary has been provided to allow managers and executives a rapid appreciation of the content of this article. Those with a particular interest in the topic covered may then read the article in toto to take advantage of the more comprehensive description of the research undertaken and its results to get the full benets of the material present. Growing concern about climate change has attracted increased attention from media and consumers alike. One effect is greater consumer interest in products rating high in energy efciency. Evidence suggests that such individuals are likely to seek out these products from companies which share their apprehension about ecological issues. For their part, businesses have recognized that a focus on the environment and sustainability can help secure a competitive edge. However, different studies have conrmed that environmental-consciousness is not necessarily reected in purchase behavior. A reason commonly cited for the apparent consumer reluctance to buy green products is the higher price typically attached to them. This unwillingness is further reected by the difculties experienced by rms when

Predicting consumer intentions to purchase energy-efcient products H.-Y. Ha and S. Janda

Journal of Consumer Marketing Volume 29 Number 7 2012 461 469

marketing products which exploit sources of renewable energy. Certain theorists posit that attitude towards a certain behavior impacts both on behavioral intention and on actual behavior. This theory of reasoned action (TRA) is considered potentially useful in predicting consumer behavior regarding energy-saving products. At its core is the notion that attitude towards a behavior impacts on intention to engage in the behavior and that intention in turn determines actual behavior. It is argued that behavior regarding energy saving could be predicted using this outlook. Existing beliefs about the positive impact of buying an energy efcient product might persuade green consumers to select that option instead of an alternative which appeals because of its lower price. These beliefs can increase when energy-saving products are marketed as being innovative as well as energy-efcient, some sources claim. Consumer familiarity with a product and, particularly, their objective knowledge obtained through such as factual information also inuence attitude in this context. One assumption of this is that people are more inclined to hold favorable attitudes towards the use of energy-saving products when they retain similarly positive beliefs about their impact. Individuals who possess knowledge about a product are condent in their judgment of its capabilities. Increased condence also tends to heighten the impact of attitude on intention and behavior. Where energy-saving is concerned, evidence indicates that consumers become likelier to engage in certain behaviors when they are condent that the effect on the environment will be positive. Another assumption of TRA is that correlation exists between levels of environmental consciousness and the propensity to engage in green behaviors. Concerned individuals will feel morally compelled to act in such ways. One assumption is that conducting activates in an environmentally-responsible manner is a subjective norm among these consumers. Some analysts point out that the presence of eagerness and internal motivation further heighten the propensity to engage in such behaviors, especially when those involved perceive that doing so will benet the environment. Ha and Yanda explore these issues in a study of consumers in the South Korean capital, Seoul. Subjects were approached outside leading appliance and electronics stores and those who had recently purchased energy-saving products were selected. The nal total of 202 usable responses consisted of 72 from males and 130 from females between 26 and 57 years-old. The number of women in the sample was higher than represented in the general population but reected the tendency in South Korea for females to be likelier than men to shop for the family. Survey questions measured knowledge, belief, condence, environmental awareness, subjective norm and attitude towards energy-saving products. Analysis of the data revealed that:

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consumer knowledge positively inuences belief about energy-saving products; those with strong beliefs about engaging in activities involving energy-efcient products have a more positive attitude towards such products; attitude towards energy-saving products is positively inuence by consumer condence; a positive relationship exists between attitudes towards energy-efcient products and behavioral intention; environmental awareness is positively associated with subjective norms; behavioral intention is positively inuenced by eagerness; and subject norms positively impact on behavioral intentions.

Contrary to expectation, no statistically signicant relationship was found between subjective norm and eagerness towards participating in pro-environmental behaviors. Previous studies had indicated otherwise. Eagerness did show a strong positive effect on behavioral intention, though. The authors believe that consumer intention to use energy-efcient products could increase when they feel their actions will have a favorable impact on the environment. As a means to inuence intention, they suggest that marketers should focus on providing general information to remind consumers of the importance of environmental protection and resource conservation. Results showed a considerable impact on behavioral intention from both attitude and subjective norm. That the effect of attitude was found to be considerably stronger is seen as especially signicant. Firms are advised to note this and take measures to ensure that consumers have a favorable attitude towards their energy-saving products. Since beliefs and knowledge inuence attitude, Ha and Yanda point out the importance of providing consumers with relevant information. A recommend strategy is to incorporate into advertisements details of the energy-saving effects of using the companys products and brands. Providing detailed factual information so that potential buyers can compare energy consumption between energy-saving and regular appliances can prove persuasive. Marketers could even include gures to emphasize the amount of monetary savings to further strengthen their case. Certain studies have indicated the effectiveness of informational appeals in this context. In other cases, consumer reluctance to embrace ecologically-friendly products has been attributed to detailed information being absent. Further exploration of the relationship between subjective norm and eagerness is urged. Researchers could also replicate the study using industrial consumers since energy usage levels are much higher in that environment. Examining the use of energy-saving products within other nations and cultures can also help test the robustness of these ndings. cis of the article Predicting consumer intentions to purchase (A pre energy-efcient products.)

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