Signing up for Voluntary Simplicity – Consumer Motives and Effects

Irina Pravet, Maria Holmlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine consumers’ motives in signing up for a week-long voluntary simplicity experiment, No Impact Week (NIW), and reducing their consumption during and afterwards.

Design/methodology/approach – The empirical data come from informants who filled out a pre-week email inquiry, completed a daily diary template centred on eight themes, responded to a post-week email inquiry and answered follow-up questions one month after completion.

Findings – Those who participate in NIW were motivated by personal factors, such as curiosity and desire to be more aware, to learn tips for eco-living applicable to daily life and to challenge themselves. People who chose not to participate did so largely because they did not understand what would be required of them. Participants incorporated the experiment into their lives, but the outcomes remained dependent on existing structures, in this case environmental and personal factors. The findings indicate the existence of a value-action gap and an awareness-behaviour gap.

Research limitations/implications – While a mismatch between consumers’ consumption values and behaviour is not uncommon, enabling behaviour in line with values is crucial for reducing consumption. Although voluntary simplicity is a drastic form of consumption reduction that appeals only to a small but growing niche of people, the motives for and consequences of engaging in it highlight pressing issues of consumer behaviour and consumption.

Originality/value – The study is unique in that it links voluntary simplicity to a social marketing campaign that should appeal to those with a favourable attitude towards taking action and reducing their consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalSociety and Business Review
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)80-99
Publication statusPublished - 13.02.2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Voluntary simplicity
  • VS
  • Consumption reduction
  • Reflective diary
  • Social marketing campaign


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