Social Determinants of Sustainable Consumption

Davey, Laura
Kapitan, Sommer
Vredenburg, Jessica
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

When is acting sustainably not enough? Sustainable consumption behaviours are becoming more frequent - from carrying reusable shopping bags and reusable coffee cups to buying food from the local farmers market and buying second-hand fashion (Ayanoglu, Duarte & Pereira, 2019; Lewis & Chen, 2016; Lim, 2017). These behaviours are motivated by convenience, price and social factors, as well as sustainable attitudes (De Pelsmacker, Driesen & Rayp, 2005; Kalafatis, Pollard, East & Tsogas, 1999; Lee & Green, 1991; Terlau & Hirsch, 2015). When these sustainable behaviours are motivated by something other than a sustainable attitude, the consumer has incongruency between their sustainable behaviour and attitude, forming what this thesis terms as a behaviour-attitude gap.

This research aims to understand what influences sustainable behaviour in the absence of a congruent sustainable attitude. This sustainable behaviour-attitude gap is investigated using theories of planned behaviour and social cognition and applies a value co-creation lens to further understand the phenomenon. A series of in-depth interviews with 31 consumers and three business owners participating in the second-hand fashion market reveal social determinants that explain how sustainable behaviour can and does occur without matching sustainable attitudes. Emerging from these social determinants is the co-created value occurring from the interaction between consumers and business owners. The results present a social determinants of sustainable consumption model in which social context, self-efficacy and sustainability knowledge interact with sustainable attitudes to create behaviours. This interaction is further influenced by business ethos and business response to consumer voice. This model is then tested using a 2x2x4 experimental survey design with 351 responses to test what marketing messages have a positive effect on consumers’ sustainable attitudes when they have an existing sustainable behaviour.

The impact of social determinants on sustainable consumption and the value that is co-created through the service exchange of second-hand fashion expands scholarly understanding of sustainable consumption behaviours, specifically for consumers who behave sustainably but do not have congruent sustainable attitudes.

Sustainable consumption , Attitude-behaviour gap , Marketing , Second-hand fashion
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