Facilitating the use of carbon labelling in supermarket purchasing behaviour

May, Claire, Fearne, Andrew and Hornibrook, Sue (2012) Facilitating the use of carbon labelling in supermarket purchasing behaviour. PhD thesis, University of Kent.

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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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This research sought to understand ways to change consumer food purchasing behaviour to become more environmentally sustainable. The literature review pointed to the influential yet understudied role of situational factors within the purchase decision making process, and the potential for labelling as a strategy for behaviour change. The launch of a carbon labelling trial of own-label products by the UK’s largest supermarket represented an
opportunity to investigate and measure the potential role of carbon labelling in facilitating behaviour change.

The research utilises an innovative mixed method case study approach. The first phase of the case study was exploratory focus groups, designed to provide an understanding of the reasons behind current food shopping habits and patterns and to gain an appreciation of current levels of awareness, understanding and use of carbon labelling. Results paved the way for phase two of the case study, a series of interventions both pre-store (working with schools) and in-store (various activities) designed to raise awareness and understanding of carbon labelling sufficiently to overcome unfavourable situational factors and convert into favourable situational factors, and
create a more conducive environment to enable purchasing of a carbon labelled product.

Results of the interventions were evaluated using several sources of evidence – teacher’s interviews, two questionnaires and, most significantly, using actual purchasing behaviour data through the use of supermarket loyalty card data. Results showed some impact on raising awareness, understanding and claimed behaviour, but no discernible impact on actual purchasing behaviour.

This research highlights the importance of situational factors in the purchase decision making process, and the challenges associated with changing behaviour in the face of competing and often conflicting drivers of supermarket purchasing behaviour. It also highlights the benefits of mixed methods in understanding behaviour and evaluating impacts of targeted interventions, particularly in such complex contexts as sustainability, consumption and the supermarket shopping mission.

Keywords:carbon labelling, Sustainability, Consumer behaviour
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N500 Marketing
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:13929
Deposited On:12 May 2014 14:32

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