The Influence of Eco-Labelling on Consumer Behaviour – Results of a Choice-Based Conjoint Analysis
Katharina Sammer and Rolf Wüstenhagen, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland
From Lancaster’s point of view, consumers view goods as a bundle of different product characteristics: search, experience and credence attributes. There often is information asymmetry with regard to these attributes, i.e. information is unevenly distributed between buyers and sellers. Depending on the kinds of different product characteristics and the transaction frequency of relevant products, information asymmetry can be overcome in different ways. Signalling by firms or third-party labelling institutions, and screening by consumers are two ways of addressing the issue of information asymmetry. This study focuses on intangible product characteristics which especially depend on appropriate product information (signals like brands, labels). Brands and labels fulfil two main functions for consumers: they inform consumers about intangible product characteristics (information function, e.g. quality) and provide a value in itself (value function, e.g. prestige). The proposed paper will report on the results of an empirical survey involving a total of 600 choice-based conjoint interviews conducted in Switzerland in Spring 2004. Choice-based conjoint analysis (related to Conjoint analysis) is a widely used methodology in market research and reveals the relative importance of various product attributes in customers’ purchasing decisions in a very realistic setting. Our survey covers three different product categories, namely light bulbs, washing machines, and cars. The European energy efficiency label is used for all these products, and our study investigates the relative importance of this eco-label compared to other product features (like brand name) in consumers’ purchasing decisions. The results include a discussion of differences between the three product categories as well as between different consumer segments. Conclusions for sustainability-oriented marketing and policy strategies will be drawn. Keywords: Information asymmetry, consumer behaviour, eco-labelling, choice-based conjoint analysis
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