Green marketing consumer-level theory review: A compendium of applied theories and further research directions

Christopher Groening*, Joseph Sarkis, Qingyun Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

311 Citations (Scopus)


Marketing green products requires different approaches than marketing non-green products (e.g., to counteract consumer prioritization of self-interest and focus on the short-term vs. long-term). As a result, green marketing has a substantial body of academic research. The purpose of our paper is to synthesize and provide a comprehensive overview of individual-level consumer behavior theories in green marketing. We begin by defining the term green marketing. Next, we conduct a large-scale review of more than 20 consumer-level theories grouped into six categories. For each theory, we present its definition, application in green marketing, and suggestions for future areas of research. Despite the breadth of theories that we uncovered, most studies indicate that few consumers will pay more for green products and that behavior in one environmental context does not necessarily translate into comparable behavior in another context. Another important finding is a great disconnect between consumer green purchasing intention and actual green purchasing behavior. To address this challenge, we provide two groups of additional applicable theories that have not yet been applied to green marketing. These theory groups are behavioral intentions, or non-economic green purchase influencers, and instantiaters, which moderate the motivation – green purchase behavior link. Managers can use our conceptual framework illustrating the relationship among these theories to help understand the stages in a consumer's green purchase process. Our study also can aid managers in developing tools to achieve a competitive marketplace advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue numberJanuary
Pages (from-to)1848-1866
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 20.01.2018
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Green marketing
  • Literature review
  • Consumer theory
  • Environment
  • Behavior


Dive into the research topics of 'Green marketing consumer-level theory review: A compendium of applied theories and further research directions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this