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The Impact of Sustainability Information on Consumer Decision Making

  • Author(s): O'Rourke, D
  • Ringer, A
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2015 by Yale University This article presents an empirical analysis of the impact of sustainability information on consumer purchase intentions and how this influence varies by issue (health, environment, and social responsibility), product category, type of consumer, and type of information. We assess over 40,000 online purchase interactions on the website GoodGuide.com and find a significant impact of certain types of sustainability information on purchase intentions, varying across different types of consumers, issues, and product categories. Health ratings in particular showed the strongest effects. Direct users—those who intentionally sought out sustainability information—were most strongly influenced by sustainability information, with an average purchase intention rate increase of 1.15 percentage points for each point increase in overall product score, reported on a zero to ten scale. However, sustainability information had, on average, no impact on nondirect users, demonstrating that simply providing more or better information on sustainability issues will likely have limited impact on changing mainstream consumer behavior unless it is designed to connect into existing decision-making processes.

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