This article reports on the underlying dimensions used by petrol-electric hybrid and conventional car buyers when evaluating a vehicle with the intent to purchase. Buyers of conventionally fuelled vehicles reported that they considered quality and performance as the most important determinants of choice. They rated as least important, the image they derive from driving a particular car and social influence. On the other hand, petrol-electric hybrid car buyers reported that social influence and projecting a “green” image were most important considerations and quality and appeal were least important. These findings provide social marketers with a crucial understanding that helps in the selection of an appropriate model to promote the diffusion of eco-friendly vehicles.
Why Do People Buy Hybrid Cars?
Consumers are buying increasing numbers of environmentally friendly cars. Increasingly, many of these environmentally conscious consumers choose to purchase petrol-electric hybrid vehicles. In this category of “greener-cars”, Toyota’s Prius model is reported to be the market leader. In 2009-10, it was the best-selling car in Japan, an important leading market for automobile trends (Mick 2010).
Sales of the Prius keep growing despite well-publicised quality and safety problems (Mitchell & Linebaugh 2010).
In fact, the demand for petrol-electric hybrids is so strong that Toyota has introduced a second and larger Camry branded hybrid vehicle into Australia. Other car manufacturers are following with their own models, indicating that there is likely to be sustained demand for this type of light-duty passenger vehicle.
Brief History of Hybrid Vehicle Development First built in the early 1900 s by inventors tinkering with combinations of the electric motor and the gasoline engine, hybrid vehicles were dropped when gasoline-fueled vehicles became more reliable and easier to start, and gasoline fuel more readily available. Research and development of hybrid vehicles was revived by concern about oil dependency in ...
Toyota markets the Prius as an environmentally better alternative to conventional vehicles because it uses less fuel and has lower emissions. This marketing position appears to appeal to consumers who do not wish to further degrade the environment. It has been suggested that these consumers
choose to help by driving a car that is more environmentally friendly (Griskevicius, Tybur & Van den Bergh 2010; Bamberg 2003).
Popular sentiment has it that intrinsic motives to preserve the environment are the driving force behind the popularity of these vehicles. This is because consumers keep buying petrol-electric hybrid cars like the Prius even though they cost more then twice the amount of a comparable conventional car. But are intrinsic reasons really why consumers choose to buy a car like the Prius? Are there other reasons behind its popularity?
It has been recognized that encouraging the adoption of environmentally friendly products is a key challenge for the behavioural scientists (Kaplan 2000).
This appears to be why there has been a great deal of research into the reasons behind this adoption. This article seeks to add to this knowledge by exploring the reasons that drive adoption of environmentally friendlier automobiles, specifically, the petrol-electric hybrids that are gaining popularity. This information may potentially be valuable to increase adoption rates for other environmentally friendly products and ideas.
Environmental sensitivity and consumption
The currently popular paradigm for discussing the environment originated in the 1970s, when the ideas of global warming and finite oil reserves were first proposed (Minton & Rose 1997; Pelletier et al. 1998).
While some debate continues on the veracity of these propositions, this thinking has influenced the way people live by increasing their efforts to reduce energy use and to have fewer by-products as a result of consumption. It has been suggested that this type of thinking has led some consumers to prefer products like the Prius (Jansson, Marrell & Nordlund 2009).
A.Background of the Study A “green” business strives to have a positive impact on the environment and community. It develops and practices business strategies that go beyond regulation and demonstrate commitment to a healthy and sustainable future. A green business adopts principles, policies, and practices that improve the quality of life for its customers and employees. Our environmental and ...
These consumers with ecological and environmental concerns have been described in various ways, and are sometimes called environmentally-sensitive, -conscious, or as environmentalists.
This group of consumers are reportedly more positively oriented towards conservation and environmental issues when compared to other consumer groups (Casey & Scott 2006; Minton & Rose 1997; Stern et al. 1995) and are widely documented as having a higher tendency to adopt eco-friendlier products (Gatersleben, Steg & Vlek 2002; Minton & Rose 1997; Anable 2005; Bamberg 2003; Hansla et al. 2008; Maloney & Ward 1973; Stisser 1994).
This hypothesis has also been tested in its inverse, leading to the finding that consumers who were inclined towards eco-friendlier products were also the most sensitive to the environment (Jansson, Marell & Nordlund 2009).
The literature into reasons for buying environmentally friendly products appears to be split along the streams of intrinsic versus extrinsic motives. The methodology employed appears to be correlated with the finding for either intrinsic (unmasked data collection methods) or extrinsic (masked/disguised data collection) motivations for adoption.
Intrinsic motivations appear to be the reason why conservation and environmentally minded consumers adopt eco-friendlier products (Chan 1996; Bamberg 2003).
For example, intrinsically driven consumers buy hybrid cars to reduce the effects of their driving on the environment. However, there is another stream of literature using other research methods (often masked surveys) that have found that pro-environmental products are often not purchased because of pro-environmental motives (Diekmann & Preisendörfer 1998, Barr 2004, Mainieri et. al. 1997).
In fact, in a wide-ranging study that employed disguised surveys on a range of products, Bamberg (2003) reported only a low to moderate association between consumers’ concern about the environment and adoption of consumption behaviour that was considered to be environmentally friendly. If this is the case, is it possible that there are other reasons behind adopting ‘greener’ products?
Introduction to Business Business plays a major role within our society. It is a creative and competitive activity that continuously contributes to the shaping of our society. By satisfying the needs and wants people cannot satisfy themselves, businesses improve the quality of life for people and create a higher standard of living. It is a way for individuals to provide goods and services to ...
It is also possible that extrinsic rewards (e.g. popularity, image, status) may be a more salient reason for some consumers to adopt environmentally friendly products (e.g. Jansson, Marrell & Nordlund 2009; Stern 2000, Clark, Kotchen & Moore 2003).
This is not to say that these consumers do not posses intrinsic motivations, but that extrinsic reasons appear to play a more powerful role in their decision making process.
Griskevicius, Tybur & Van den Bergh (2010) conducted a series of experiments and found that many of the consumers’ in their sample chose environmental friendly products because of social or professional status concerns. In addition, participants were more likely to adopt environmentally friendly products with ‘conspicuous’ consumption characteristics (i.e. they could be seen using the product) over those that were predominantly consumed in private. They also found that consumers were more likely to choose environmentally friendly products that were comparatively more expensive, and tended to shun those that were priced at the same level or below similar less eco-friendly products. Griskevicius et al. found positive correlations between price and public consumption, suggesting that the consumers tested in their experiments appeared to view adopting green products with social and professional status.
Additionally, they only adopted green products that were more expensive (i.e. luxury green products).
The authors indicated that their results clearly suggested that some consumers tended to adopt an environmental friendly product only if this consumption decision was advantageous to their image as being pro-social issue and unselfish. While Griskevicius et al.’s study investigated the influencing role of status in the adoption of eco-friendly products, no attempt was made to test for the relative the importance the different factors that enter into the decision making criteria for products. Nor did they compare the decision making criteria for the purchase for non-environmental products against those used to evaluate environmentally friendly products. Our research adds to the literature in this area.
Consumer Product Safety Act The Consumer Product Safety Act states that any company that receives numerous complaints about a products defects must report these claims to the CPSA. According to the CPSA reporting responsibilities belong to manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of consumer products. Each is required to notify the Commission if it obtains information which reasonably ...
In order to maximise the differences that can be discussed, most academic research dealing with contrasts prefers to use groups with strong tendencies towards the end-points of the phenomenon (e.g. highly intrinsic vs. highly extrinsic groups), there is also likely to be a third group of consumers with a more equal mix of in- and extrinsic motivations. However, because of the often non-significant result that is obtained from this group with more balanced views, these results are normally not reported in academic literature (c.f. Clark, Kotchen & Moore 2003).
It is likely that this is the largest group of consumers when it comes to adopting hybrid products.
Related research in choice of vehicle fuel
An area that is related to a consumer’s choice of car is the choice of fuel. Four thousand Swedish drivers were surveyed on their level of eco-sensitivity and the type of vehicle fuel they used (Jansson, Marell & Norlund 2009).
As expected, most were not sensitive to environmental issues and did not adopt less polluting fuels. What is surprising is that consumers who reported the most sensitivity to environmental issues also reported driving the least, instead preferring public transportation. Unfortunately, Jansson et al.’s study did not report if this group was also more likely to adopt “green-cars”. Neither did Jansson’s study measure the in- or extrinsic motivating factors behind adoption.
While the study reported a correlation between adoption of cleaner-fuels and level of eco-sensitivity, the results are only descriptive in nature, offering little insight into why people choose more ecologically sound products. Our study tests if motivations (in- or extrinsic) play a role in the way consumers select cars for purchase and attempts to identify the type of motivations that operate in the choice of (non) environmentally friendly cars. At this juncture of the discussion of the extant literature, it is appropriate to cover the way consumers make decisions.
Consumer decision making process
For many consumers, choosing an automobile is often a complicated and high-involvement process. Although cars are regularly used products, they are also rarely bought products. Additionally, an automobile is expensive, there is a large selection and the consequences of not choosing well typically lasts a long period of time and may cost a lot to rectify.
Life Insurance Products Essays and Term Papers Search 1 - 20 of 1000 Consumer Buying Behavior For Life Insurance: This report focuses on the consumer behavior and awareness of life insurance towards risk security, the core product of life insurance. The primary drivers of... Premium Impact Of Persuasive Advertisements On Consumer Buying Behavior Towards Health Related Products. : | | Impact of ...
Consumers enter into the process of actively evaluating automobiles for purchase when they experience a strong desire or need for a car (Dholakia 2001; Frey & Jegen 2001; Villacorta, Koestner & Lekes 2003).
Coupled with the ability and desire to buy, the consumer is said to be “in the market” for a new car. This means that the consumer is saving money or has access to funds for purchase, and they have strong intentions to complete the purchase in the near future. We have adopted this definition of ‘in the market’ for purchase to select the sample for our research.
To help them arrive at a final choice, many consumers will weigh and evaluate different factors. While the factors that are evaluated and their importance are expected to differ for individual consumers, as a group, they are expected to take into consideration some common elements. These can include cost, practicality/performance, aesthetics, the ‘lifestyle/image’ associated with some makes/models, social influence and the car’s environmental credentials like fuel economy/emissions (Griskevicius et al. 2010).
Consumers use weighting of these factors under consideration as a form of shorthand to make their decision making process easier. They use the degree of importance of the vehicles’ elements or groups of elements that form factors to help them reduce the items that are being considered. These weights can be seen to form key consideration sets and are likely to finally be used to establish “purchase parameters”. These purchase parameters tend to form the final decision-making or –breaking standards for purchase.
In the evaluation process, the consumer seeks vehicles that best address the decision-parameters that they have established. A popular method for portraying this process is as a trade-off between different factors and dimensions.
If this trade-off process is driven by underlying intrinsic or extrinsic reasons, then it is likely that these reasons will manifest themselves in the factors or dimensions that are used by consumers to evaluate vehicles for purchase. These dimensions are sometimes called consumer consideration-sets. In this sense, a person who is buying a car to “show-off” may consider very use very different consideration-sets to those used by a consumer who is intrinsically motivated and buys a hybrid vehicle because they wish to save the environment. This kind of decision making mechanism affords researchers the opportunity to study the factors that enter into consideration for the purchase of cars. It may even be possible to compare the choice sets used for the purchase of different models or types of cars (e.g. conventional vehicles vs. petrol-electric hybrid cars).
1.1 Introduction What do we mean if we are talking about consumer buying behaviour? There are several decision processes and acts of people (consumers) buying and using products for themselves or their household. These processes might be very interesting for companies and their marketing managers. But what are the reasons why marketers should know about consumer buying behaviour? -Well, there are ...
At this point, it is useful to introduce the possible dimensions and constructs that consumers may use for choosing between different automobiles. Product performance/function includes evaluations of how the product is likely to perform (Lavidge & Steiner 1961).
Utility is a common measure product performance. The consumer can evaluate performance first hand by test-driving the car or may obtain it second-hand through the media or through word-of-mouth. Product grade is closely related to performance and is the product’s perceived quality and attributes (Lavidge & Steiner 1961; O’Brien 1971).
Buyers may believe that hybrids produce lower emissions, making it a better quality automobile. Typically, product quality is negatively associated with product price.
The cost of a car includes its purchase price and running costs. In Australia, a Prius costs $16,000 more than a Corolla, which is a comparable car (Toyota Australia 2010).
Running costs for hybrids are also generally higher. Is this price premium a consideration for hybrid buyers? The cost of a car has been found to be positively associated with its perceived image (Heffner, Kurani & Turrentine 2005, 2007).
For example, expensive cars are perceived to be prestigious and luxurious. Indirectly, this prestige is transferred to its driver. Similarly, Prius drivers may derive benefits from the “green” image associated with hybrid vehicles.
Social influence can affect an individual’s choices (Ajzen 1991).
People use specific products in order to gain admittance, fit in with, and to attain social standing within desired reference groups (Steg 2005; Heffner, Kurani & Turrentine 2007; Pelletier et al. 1998; Griskevicius, Tybur & Van den Bergh 2010).
This factor has been found to be significantly stronger for some groups of consumers (Steg 2005).
Typically these consumers are described as conformists who will follow the directions and wishes of their referent groups. All of these dimensions help the consumer choose which car to buy.
The scales and items that were used to measure the constructs for evaluating vehicle purchase were adapted from the literature. These constructs were car buyers’ attitudes on environmentalism (Jansson, Marell & Nordlund 2009), in- and extrinsic motivation to consume green products and social influence (Kahle 1995), vehicle performance and functionality (Peracchio & Myers-Levy 1994), buyers’ evaluative criteria for vehicle purchase (MacKenzie, Lutz & Belch 1986).
Questions about value for money of buying a car and about running and purchase costs based on from material from Lave and MacLean (2001).
Questions to assess intentions of buying a hybrid vehicle were adapted from MacKenzie, Lutz and Belch (1986).
These measures were compiled into a composite model to evaluate the way car buyers evaluated these dimensions. Comparisons were made between those who indicated intentions to buy a conventional car and those intending to buy a petrol-electric hybrid vehicle. The measures from literature were reported to be reliable with Cronbach’s Alpha in excess of .7. Our data had similarly high internal consistency, with the measures reported in this article having an alpha value of .76.
Three experts, who were government vehicle-fleet managers and who also drove a Prius as their work vehicle, reviewed, evaluated and pre-tested our pencil and paper survey. They commented on the layout, evaluative dimensions for vehicle purchase and the sequencing of the questions. Based on their comments, we edited the survey to increase accuracy and clarity. The final version contained 33 questions.
We distributed 165 self-report surveys using the snowball sampling technique in the researchers’ workplaces and obtained 157 usable replies. Respondents who were identified as “being in the market” to buy a car were asked to refer the researchers to other potential respondents who intended to purchase cars in the near future. This resulted in a sample where 53.5% of respondents were 22 to 30 years old (range 16-50+ years old) and 58.9% were female.
The number of successful interviews appears high because we pre-qualified respondents by asking them three filter questions. The referred respondent was first asked if they were actively looking and evaluating a vehicle. If they said yes, we measured their intention by asking if they had saved-up to buy the vehicle. If the respondent said yes, to this second question, we then asked them when they intended to buy the car. Only those intending to buy in the next year were interviewed. While we did not keep records of how many people did not pre-qualify, the researchers estimated that every other person they were referred to did not qualify for the survey.
These respondents were asked to indicate their preferred choice of car, 8.6% of respondents (n=12 of 138 intending to buy a car) indicated that they were strongly considering buying a hybrid car. In view of the range of automobiles available in the market, this appears to be a high percentage. Our respondent group at 8.6% is higher than the 2.2% market share enjoyed by all types of hybrid vehicles, and the 5.3% intending to purchase hybrids in the US – the largest market for hybrids (Duffy 2010).
This group of intending hybrid car buyers reported significant positive associations with environmental sensitivity (Correlation Coefficient=.83; p