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Persuading people to buy sustainable goods

Persuading people to buy sustainable goods

Remembering the pride we felt after making environmentally friendly decisions is more likely to motivate us to make green choices in future than guilt, new research suggests.

The study, conducted by Warwick Business School, found consumers were more likely to buy an electric car after recalling how good they felt after other sustainable purchases.

However, making people feel guilty about past purchases that were not environmentally friendly did not encourage them to ‘buy green’ in future.

Encouraging people to make environmentally sustainable choices, from flying less to avoiding beef, could limit greenhouse gas emissions, helping to tackle climate change.

Yet while most people state that they care about being sustainable, only a few “deep green” consumers currently change their behaviour.

The findings could encourage businesses to re-think the way they sell green products and behaviours, such as solar cells and adding house insulation, to the public.

Lead researcher Hugh Wilson, Professor of Marketing, said: “Attempts to encourage consumers to make more sustainable choices have traditionally been dominated by negative emotions, such as guilt and fear.

“While this has achieved some success, it can have a really bad side effect: people can lose heart and give up.

“Rather than making people feel guilty, it is possible to make people feel good about their past achievements and encourage them to make sustainable choices in future.

“This is not restricted to choosing which products to buy. It may prove equally useful to promote other sustainable behaviours such as driving less and saving energy at home.”