Globally, research on environmental matters has experienced many changes, reflecting the corresponding fluctuation in consumer’s environmental concerns. Survey reports on environmental problems echo consumers becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmental issues. Despite this evidence to suggest that consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment, the concern for environmental issues has not been able to establish a proper balance between economic development and the environment.
Though, environmental policies have attempted to align greener corporations that are encountering major environmental issues, the thrust to buy green products ventures from consumers. What are the main drivers behind this quest?
We attempt to provide businesses and environmental policy makers a reasonable understanding of consumer perceptions. By aiming to determine the antecedents of what consumers perceive as more environmentally preferable within corporations, it will attempt to establish how green companies should communicate environmental considerations. The main objective is not to identify the “greenest” corporation, but rather to extract an understanding of environmental considerations that consumers have about a green corporation. We examine an under explored aspect of Portuguese consumer perceptions on green companies. We intended to reveal appropriate personal and contextual factors that communicate consumer perceptions of environmental oriented corporations and to identify what is it that consumers regard as critical factors that bolster the ethos of green corporations. This would assist in significant latent potential in emerging green companies. Identification of these factors that promote its growth is crucial in initializing auxiliary developments.
Since the 1990s, Portugal economic growth has been increasing with considerable investment in their environmental infrastructure to encourage environmentally sound management practices (OECD, 2008). There have been high standards set by the European Union (EU) environmental policies, and Portugal continues to utilise EU funds to congregate with other EU members in their strife towards environmental protection.
Eurobarometer’s survey conducted in 2008 that measured the opinions, attitudes and behaviour of Europeans towards the environment was carried out by the Environment Directorate-General. There were 26,730 respondents in the 27 Member States of the European Union were interviewed at their homes in their respective national languages of which 1,000 were Portuguese consumers.
It is evident that consumers in Portugal can compel market forces towards producing green products and steer towards companies becoming greener. Although, there ave been diverse views on environmentally friendly products (Kalafatis et al,1999), survey reports indicate that Portuguese consumers have favourable attitude towards environmentally friendly products even if they are slightly more expensive. Yet it is also likely that many consumers would consider selecting environmentally responsive alternatives given their availability at reasonably competitive prices. In a similar situation, although some consumers have no reservations of paying taxes to decrease pollution, they also believe that corporations should assume environmental responsibility. Since the 1990s, consumer’s concerns for the environment are escalating (Berger & Corbin, 1992; Lord, 1994; Schwartz & Miller, 1991), but littleevidence exists on consumer perceptions of green companies. Despite strong interest in this area, there is a dearth of knowledge on consumer perceptions of green corporations. Evaluating consumer perception at an individual level may assist to understand the concept behind environmentalism and the trade off between other product attributes. Researchers have suggested that ‘consumers increasingly make purchases on the basis of a firm’s role in society (Forte and Lamont, 1998). Given that, firms are also responsive to stakeholder demands for maintaining a green reputation. If this is the case, then corporate perception should be explored by virtue of consumer’s environmental responsiveness.
Consumers have a positive attitude towards the environment, they demand green products, and they attempt to read environmental labels. Thus, in order to restore the consumer confidence in green companies, managers in Portugal should make a strategic effort towards these three areas.
Although companies in Portugal are keeping up with environmental concerns, more support is required by the government. Further research is required in terms of what type of environmental responsibility should companies and the government take? While Marketers have the opportunity to communicate and promote the environmental message on the labels, since most consumers tend to read labels, more on environmental messages needs to be addressed by manufacturers. With regards to green products, as consumers are not willing to trade-off on quality but are willing to pay a higher price, quality should be strongly emphasised.
(Source:Portugal Case Study: Consumer perception of green companies
Clare D’Souza, Siva Muthalay, Mehdi Taghian and Francisco Pereira)