Four Factors Influence Consumers Purchase of Green Products

The Socially Responsible Purchase and Disposal (SRPD) scale measures how consumers make green purchases and finds that it hinges on making a difference.
Lauren Rakowski September 28, 2017
Americans believe it is more important than ever for companies to be socially responsible. In fact, 86 per cent say they will switch to a company associated with a cause, given similar price and quality.

Researchers Deborah J. Webb, Lois A. Mohr, and Katherine E. Harris developed the Socially Responsible Purchase and Disposal (SRPD) scale to measure the criteria consumers use to make green purchasing decisions.

The SRPD scale measures factors like how corporate social responsibility (CSR) affects green purchasing and helps identify when consumers avoid environmentally harmful products. When tested, the scale found consumers buy responsible products when they feel doing so makes a difference—and when CSR does not come at the expense of product quality.

The Socially Responsible Purchase and Disposal Scale

The SRPD scale measures four dimensions of responsible consumption: 
  1. The influence of firms' CSR performance on consumer purchasing;
  2. Consumer recycling behaviours;
  3. Tradeoffs between traditional purchasing criteria and responsible criteria;
  4. Purchasing criteria based on products' environmental impact. 
Consumers are more likely to buy socially responsible products when they believe their actions can help resolve social or environmental issues, or they value group goals and sharing.

Consumers who believe CSR compromises product quality are less likely buy green products. 

Communicate How Customers Can Make a Difference

Marketers should communicate precisely how green products are an opportunity for individuals to make a difference on social or environmental issues. Doing so may be the best predictor of whether consumers buy green products.

Maintaining Quality is Must

Professionals in manufacturing, product development, and quality assurance must ensure CSR does not come at the expense of product quality. Maintain expertise in producing and delivering products to develop customer loyalty and so consumers believe CSR is not a trade-off.

Use scales like the SRPD to help:

The SRPD Scale as a Starting Point

The SRPD is a tool to help researchers better understand socially responsible consumption. Future research can ask how conventional criteria like price, quality and convenience factor into purchasing decisions alongside perceptions of socially responsible corporate behaviour.
Webb, Deborah J., Mohr, Lois A., & Harris, Katherine E. (2008). A re-examination of socially responsible consumption and its measurement. Journal of Business Research, 61(2): 91-98.

additional resources

Research Insight

When marketing to consumers over 50, companies should focus on how, when, and where information about the product or ethical practices is communicated.

Pam Laughland
Research Insight

When status is important, we may buy green products with inferior attributes—especially when they cost more.

Pam Laughland
Research Insight

Social product features such as labour practices can affect a person's buying intentions, but most people will not trade off on functionality.

Pam Laughland
Research Insight

Companies can successfully market environmental programs by describing how others in a similar situation participate—and how doing so helps the environment.

Lauren Rakowski