Shoppers go green to compete for status

Shoppers are buying environmentally friendly goods to boost their reputation, not because they care about saving the planet, according to new research.

Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius

When shopping in public, people are more likely to make altruistic choices, favouring green products above more luxurious non-green products. People who shop online however, are more likely to buy more luxurious non-green products due to the lower cost.

According to research carried out by Vladas Griskevicius, of the University of Minnesota, consumers are influenced by status when making the decision to buy green products. The study, in which 168 students participated, suggests that shoppers have an increased desire to buy green products in public if they cost more, but are less inclined to do so from the privacy of their own homes.

The report gives an example of the eco-friendly Toyota Prius, a hybrid gas-electric car designed to lower emissions. Despite costing more than a conventional car, consumers are willing to pay for it because it shows that they care about their environment.

When asked why they bought that particular car, their main reason was to send out the message that they were concerned about their environment.

“A reputation for being a caring individual gives you status and prestige. When you publicly display your environmentally friendly nature, you send the signal that you care,” the report says.

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