Consumers’ reactions to unsubstantiated claims about ecological products

Magnus Söderlund*, Jan Mattsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of unsubstantiated claims that a product is “ecological.”
Design/methodology/approach
A between-subjects experimental design was used in which the absence versus the presence of an (unsubstantiated) ecological claim regarding a product was a manipulated factor. The design comprised four products, representing non-ingestible/ingestible products and familiar/unfamiliar brands. These two aspects were seen as potentially moderating factors with respect to the impact of ecological claims.
Findings
The results show that ecological product claims boosted beliefs that a product is indeed ecological. This influence was not moderated by non-ingestible/ingestible and familiar/unfamiliar product characteristics. Moreover, ecological product claims enhanced conceptually related product beliefs, namely, beliefs that the product is natural, environmentally friendly and healthy. Ecological claims also had a positive impact on the attitude toward the product.
Practical implications
The results imply that influencers who want a receiver to believe that a product is ecological can expect to be successful by merely claiming that a product is ecological.
Social implications
From a societal point of view, however, and in an era in which “alternative facts” and “post-truths” are becoming the subject of increasing concern, the results are problematic, because they underline that customers can be made to believe in claims even though no supporting evidence is provided.
Originality/value
The results imply that influencers who want a receiver to believe that a product is ecological can expect to be successful by merely claiming that a product is ecological. From a societal point of view, however, and in an era in which “alternative facts” and “post-truths” are becoming the subject of increasing concern, the results are problematic, because they underline that customers can be made to believe in claims even though no supporting evidence is provided.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Volume37
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)569-578
ISSN0736-3761
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 06.05.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed

Keywords

  • 512 Business and Management
  • beliefs
  • green marketing
  • ecological products
  • product attitudes
  • unsubstantiated claims

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