Overcoming the Sustainability Liability: Can Stating Product Strength Increase Preference for Sustainable Products?
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- Master of Science 
Consumer demand for sustainable products is rising, but there is still a valueaction gap between consumers’ pro-green attitudes and purchase behavior. This might partly be attributed to consumers associating sustainable products with gentleness-related attributes. As a result of these associations, the positive effect that sustainability often has on product preference is reduced for products where strength-related attributes are valued highly. In some cases, this even causes preference for non-sustainable alternatives, leading to the effect called the “sustainability liability.” This study aims to determine if the sustainability liability can be overcome by explicitly stating the product's strength, and whether it is more effective to state manufactured or natural strength. We conducted an online experiment in which we manipulated product’s sustainability and the source of product strength and measured environmental attitudes. The results support the existence of a sustainability liability. The main implication from these findings is that marketing sustainable products with strong performance attributes and overcoming the sustainability liability is a complex endeavor that needs to be studied further, and that consumers’ green attitudes does not seem to affect the existence of the sustainability liability.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Strategic Marketing Management - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2021