The impact of scarce natural resources predictions and policies on consumer behaviour
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- Master of Science 
Purpose: The main purpose of this study is to evaluate consumers believability and their behaviour in two situations: first when they are exposed to a natural resource depletion prediction and secondly when they learn that a future government policy restricting their access to the resource is due to be implemented. While previous studies have only considered commodity as products that are transformed and manufactured such as classical products, luxury products, no past study examined the commodity as natural resources. This study also analyses the findings of environmental literature and the limitations of predictions and policies due to barriers such as psychological distance or emotions leading to denial for instance. Basically, as there are some discrepancies between the findings of marketing and green research, our goal is to understand if consumers would behave according to the scarcity marketing theories and behave in a competitive and selfish way or if they would not change their behaviour because of denying processes or a lack of trust. Academic background: Overall, the marketing literature states that when a consumer is exposed to a scarcity context, he is more likely to behave in a selfish and competitive way (Roux, Goldsmith, & Bonezzi, 2015). On the other side, many environmental studies highlighted the environmental messages limits: there are many barriers that would lessen the message effect on the consumer such as collapse porn (Stoknes, 2014), the psychological distance (Spence, Poortinga, & Pidgeon, 2012)... T’he point is to understand which of these two kinds of behaviours would eventually get the upper hand. Methodology scope: The study has been conducted through a long survey measuring the natural resources depletion prediction credibility, the consumer’s reaction and changes in behaviour when facing depletion prediction and policies implementation. This questionnaire was also structured in four conditions randomly presented aiming at measuring both the impact of the source between a pro-environmental and proindustry source and the effect of time as a psychological distance for the prediction. There has been a total amount of 186 participants to the study and the sample was located in Europe, with most respondents coming from France. After cleaning the data, there were still 181 participations for the survey, which means that each of our four conditions consisted in more than 30 participants. Findings: Overall people tend to be quite neutral towards water depletion predictions and tend to believe oil depletion predictions a bit more. When natural resources depletion predictions’ believability increases, then more sustainable behaviours are said to be adopted by people, especially when it comes to basic water related actions (flushing toilets, taking showers or baths, watering the garden). Feeling an emotion toward a water depletion prediction has a more positive impact on the prediction’s believability than feeling no emotion at all. When it comes to feeling an emotion towards an oil depletion prediction, more sustainable behaviours are adopted by the participants especially when those behaviours are linked with transportation modes or buying local products. The influence of time on on people’s believability towards predictions or change of behaviour in response to policies implementation forecast cannot be depicted. The source of the prediction also has an influence. Overall, predictions implementation forecast about oil are more impactful when they come from NGOs than when they come from industry groups. NGOs predictions increase people’s believability and make them adopt more sustainable behaviours. Overall when it comes to policies and behaviours ahead of the policies implementations, we cannot depict any variable between time, emotion or source which is statistically significant and could explain the influence of a variable on the behaviours. Contribution: This research, unlike prior studies, examines natural resources depletion predictions and futures policies implementation. In order to make people adopt more sustainable behaviours, they should first believe in the natural resource depletion prediction they are facing. We cannot depict a change of behaviour between the time the people hear about a future policy implementation and the actual implementation. Keywords: scarcity; natural resources; consumer behaviour; predictions; policies.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Business, Marketing - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2019