Final Master Thesis
MSc Business Administration - Consumer Marketing Track UvA - Faculty of Economics and Business
Student: Emilie Slagt Student number: 13214446
EBEC approval number: 20211111111144
Supervisor: Andrea Weihrauch Date of submission: 27th of January 2022
Wordcount: 16.022 (excluding references and appendices)
An experimental study on the effect of a green demarketing appeal
(vs. a green appeal) in a product advertisement on consumers’ purchase behavior
Statement of originality
This document is written by Emilie Slagt who declares to take full responsibility for the contents of this document. I declare that the text and the work presented in this document is original and that no sources other than those mentioned in the text and its references have been used in creating it. The faculty of Economics and Business is responsible solely for the supervision of completion of the work, not for the contents.
I would like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude to everyone who supported me while writing my thesis especially since it was sometimes a difficult task to complete a thesis in times of a pandemic. First, I would like to acknowledge my supervisor, Andrea Weihrauch, whose expertise, structured guidance, and insightful feedback were very valuable and essential for me in conducting my research and writing my thesis. Furthermore, I would like to thank my friend Sabine, who was willing to give me helpful advice. In addition, I would like to express my gratitude to the teachers who provided me with helpful tools to write my thesis. I appreciate the hard work to make studying from home more joyful. Lastly, I would like to thank my family, friends, housemates, and fellow students of the UvA for their support and motivation. They provided stimulating discussions as well as enjoyable distractions to rest my mind. I am grateful for the great support and proud of myself for the end result.
Over the last decade, research has proposed green demarketing as a new strategy to promote environmental sustainability. Green demarketing appeals that focus on the message
“don’t buy or buy less” are a form of modern environmentalism that encourages reduced consumption. However, as this concept is a relatively new and novel domain of marketing communication research, there is a lack of empirical evidence in literature on consumers’
responses to such an explicit message. Hence, this research studied the effect of a green demarketing appeal (vs. green appeal) on consumers’ purchase behavior measured through incentive-compatible purchase behavior (lottery participation) and self-reported purchase behavior. Besides, a mediating effect of attitude towards the advertisement and a moderating effect of age on the direct effect was also researched. A single factor two-level between subjects’ online experiment was conducted with 280 participants, and all were randomly assigned to either one of the two conditions. The results of the regression analyses revealed no direct relationship between appeal type and purchase behavior, and including age as a moderator did not significantly influence this effect either. However, statistically significant proof was found that attitude towards the advertisement does fully explain the relationship between appeal type and purchase behavior. The insights gained from this research may help researchers, practitioners, and marketers to better understand consumers’ attitudes towards green demarketing appeals and if these attitudes are translated into the desired purchase behavior. While more empirical research needs to be done regarding actual purchase behavior and the impact of different age groups, these preliminary findings show positive indications that green demarketing has many potential benefits to promote environmental sustainability.
Keywords: green demarketing, sustainability, appeal type, product advertisement, purchase behavior, attitude towards advertisement, age.
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables ... 5
Introduction ... 6
Problem background ... 6
Problem statement ... 8
Academic & managerial relevance ... 9
Overview of the rest of the chapters ... 10
Literature review ... 11
Research questions ... 11
Review of the relevant academic literature & hypothesis development ... 11
CSR and CER ... 11
Green advertising ... 12
Green demarketing ... 12
Appeal types ... 14
Purchase behavior ... 16
Attitude towards the advertisement ... 18
Green attitude-behavior gap ... 20
The moderating role of age ... 22
Conceptual framework ... 23
Data & Method ... 25
Research design ... 25
Operationalization of the variables ... 25
Data collection and sample ... 29
Research procedure ... 30
Research stimuli ... 31
Method ... 33
Results ... 34
Data preparation ... 34
Reliability Analysis ... 38
Descriptive Statistics of the sample... 39
Randomization checks ... 39
Correlation Analysis ... 40
Regression results ... 43
Hypothesis testing ... 50
Discussion & Conclusion ... 52
Managerial and theoretical implications ... 55
Limitations & future research ... 57
Conclusion ... 58
References ... 60
Appendices ... 70
Appendix 1: Green demarketing campaigns ... 70
Appendix 2: EBEC committee approval of research ... 71
Appendix 3: Measurement items Scale Variables ... 72
Appendix 4: Consent form ... 73
Appendix 5: Survey questions in Qualtrics ... 74
Appendix 6: Research stimuli ... 78
Appendix 7: SPSS abbreviations of the variables ... 79
Appendix 8: Factor Analysis ... 80
Appendix 9: Descriptive Statistics of the sample ... 81
Appendix 10: PROCESS model 5 Hayes (2018) ... 82
Appendix 11: Summary of hypotheses ... 83
List of Figures and Tables Figure 1: Conceptual Framework ... 9
Figure 2: Conceptual Framework with Expected Signs ... 24
Figure 3: PROCESS Model 5 ... 82
Figure 4: Results Regression Analysis ... 82
Table 1: Cronbach’s Alpha ... 38
Table 2: Overall Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations... 42
Table 3: Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Mediating Variable AdAt ... 44
Table 4: Logistic Regression Analysis for Variables predicting PB_lottery... 45
Table 5: Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables predicting PB_green ... 46
Table 6: Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables predicting PB_GD ... 48
Table 7: Indirect effects ... 49
Table 8: Measurement Items Scale Variables... 72
Table 9: SPSS Abbreviations of the Variables ... 79
Table 10: Factor Analysis – Pattern Matrix ... 80
Table 11: Demographics of the Participants ... 81
Table 12: Frequencies Conditions ... 81
Table 13: Gender Distribution ... 81
Table 14: Proposed Hypotheses and Conclusion ... 83
Introduction Problem background
“The ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will have no real impact unless each and every global citizen makes a conscious decision to change their daily habits, from the clothes they wear to the food they eat”. A statement of Michelle Yeoh, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador (United Nations, 2018, para.1). In recent decades, environmental sustainability has risen to the top of the political agendas for industries and researchers (Dangelico & Vocalelli, 2017). Nowadays, sustainability is important since consumers pay more attention to the environment. Consumers have become increasingly aware of the potential environmental impacts of their purchases, and there is a growing demand among consumers for environmentally friendly products (Schmuck et al., 2018; Dangelico & Vocalelli, 2017). Companies like Unilever, Nike, and Starbucks try to respond to this trend by developing green products, and marketers use green advertising as a marketing tool to sell these green products (Hardcastle, 2013; Dangelico & Vocalelli, 2017;
Haytko & Matulich, 2008). Green advertising focuses on the “greening” of a company's marketing efforts, and it aims to encourage greener consumption by communicating traditional and conventional green advertising appeals (hereafter green appeals) that focus on the message
“buy green” (Chen, 2010; Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016).
Besides this traditional form of green advertising, research has proposed green demarketing as a new strategy to promote sustainability and comply with consumers’ growing demands (Kvitblik & Christiansen, 2018). In recent years green demarketing strategies have become more prevalent (Zhang et al., 2021). Such green demarketing activities are a form of modern environmentalism that aims to reduce consumption overall, also known as anti- consumption, to lessen environmental impact (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016; Sekhon &
Armstrong Soule, 2020). These less conventional green demarketing advertising appeals
(hereafter GD appeals) like “don’t buy or buy less” aim to encourage reduced consumption rather than encouraging greener consumption (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016; Reich &
Armstrong Soule, 2015). This newly proposed strategy has many potential benefits for brands, consumers, and society, making it relevant to understand consumers’ attitudes and responses towards GD appeals in product advertisements (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015).
Though the concept of green demarketing is a relatively new and novel domain of marketing communication research, the body of knowledge is relatively sparse and limited.
There is also a lack of empirical evidence in the literature on consumers’ responses to such an unexpected and explicit message, and only a few studies looked into the effects of these GD appeals to encourage reduced consumption (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016; Ramirez et al., 2017; Kvitblik & Christiansen, 2018; Hesse & Rünz, 2020; Zhang et al., 2021). Furthermore, previous studies primarily focused on consumers’ attitudes and purchase intentions, and the remaining question is whether a GD appeal ultimately reduces consumption (Reich &
Armstrong Soule, 2016). This limited literature makes it relevant to investigate the effectiveness of a GD appeal in product advertisements on consumers’ purchase behavior.
Moreover, contradictory results in literature regarding consumers’ attitude towards both GD product advertisements and green product advertisements deserves more attention. This research aims to clarify these contradictions by examining which appeal results in a more favorable attitude towards the advertisement. Additionally, many previous studies have reported that companies nowadays are challenged with a green attitude-behavior gap, indicating that positive attitudes towards advertisements and purchase intentions do not always translate into the desired purchase behavior (Niessen & Hamm, 2008, as cited in Tsai et al., 2019; Joshi
& Rahman, 2015). Green demarketing is a relatively new strategy, and therefore, literature about the effect of a GD appeal on the attitude-behavior gap is rare. For this reason, it is relevant to examine the impact of the use of a GD appeal on this attitude-behavior gap. Will a positive
consumers’ attitude towards the product advertisement that communicates a GD appeal (vs.
green appeal) in the end also result in the desired purchase behavior of buying nothing or buying less? Or will using a GD appeal negatively affect the attitude-behavior gap so that an attitude leads to undesired behavior or even a backfire effect because consumers purchase even more?
Moreover, age is one of the most important demographic factors that impact purchase behavior (Rani, 2014, as cited in Slabá, 2020). However, existing literature about the effects of age on green purchase behavior is contradictory (Jones & Dunlap, 1992, as cited in Yoon & Kim, 2016; Dietz et al., 1998; Stern, 2000; Witek & Kúzniar, 2021). These contradictory results regarding green appeals and the lack of empirical evidence regarding GD appeals make it relevant to include age in this research and investigate if this variable moderates the direct effect. Lastly, this research will focus on the context of product advertising since this is the most common type of advertising. This type of advertising is designed to promote specific products or services and inform consumers about the product’s characteristics and benefits (Solomon et al., 2012, as cited in Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016).
To conclude, to contribute to the existing literature and fill the discovered research gaps, this study aims to compare two appeal types in a product advertisement and investigate the impact on purchase behavior. This will be accomplished by answering the following research question:
What is the effect of a GD appeal (vs. a green appeal) in a product advertisement on consumers’ purchase behavior and to what extent does age moderates this relationship?
This research will focus on the conceptual framework presented below in Figure 1.
Academic & managerial relevance
This study will contribute to the literature on green advertising in various ways. First, the research adds to literature by providing new insights into the field of green demarketing, where the body of knowledge is relatively sparse and limited. Also, a possible moderating role of age is proposed as no empirical research has investigated the impact of age in the context of a GD appeal. Second, existing research about this concept focused on attitudes and purchase intentions instead of purchase behavior. This study aims to extend prior studies by examining the effects of both appeal types on purchase behavior. Lastly, the academic relevance will be to solve and explain the conflicting views and findings of consumers’ attitudes towards both GD product advertisements and green product advertisements. This will be accomplished by comparing the appeal types in a print product advertisement of an existing company. Primarily Appeal type in product advertisement
GD appeal vs. green appeal
Consumers’ attitude towards the advertisement
Consumers’ purchase behavior
Age Figure 1
will react the same way in situations with real brands (Kvitblik & Christiansen, 2018; Reich &
Armstrong Soule, 2016).
As a managerial relevance, the present research will help researchers, practitioners, and marketers better understand consumers’ reactions to both appeals in product advertisements.
With the insights about the effects of these appeals on consumers’ purchase behavior, marketers can decide which appeal will be the most effective way to achieve the desired behavior.
Additionally, a further managerial contribution relates to the targeting decisions of companies as targeting decisions are heavily influenced by how individuals perceive green demarketing messages (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015). Therefore, age as a moderating variable is helpful for marketers to decide which age category they should target to ensure that consumers behave well to the type of appeal that has been used in the advertisements. Lastly, insights may lead to recommendations for governments, institutes, and businesses on shifting consumers towards a more sustainable behavior.
Overview of the rest of the chapters
This research starts with an extensive literature review explaining several theoretical concepts. This is followed by the subsequent hypotheses derived from literature and the conceptual framework that illustrates the variables’ potential relationships. Afterward, the methodology will be discussed in the Data & Method chapter, including the research design, operationalization of the variables, procedure, and stimuli. After data collection, the results to test the hypotheses were analyzed and explained in Chapter 4. Finally, Chapter 5 contains the Conclusion & Discussion, which includes a discussion of the main results, the managerial and theoretical implications, a description of the limitations and suggestions for future research, and lastly, a conclusion.
This research will focus on the following research question: What is the effect of a GD appeal (vs. a green appeal) in a product advertisement on consumers’ purchase behavior and to what extent does age moderates this relationship? This chapter provides an extensive literature review that has incited this research question along with its hypotheses.
To solve the problem, and thus answer the main question, this paper will focus on the following subsequent research questions:
1. What is the effect of using a GD appeal (vs. green appeal) in a product advertisement on consumers’ purchase behavior?
2. What is the effect of using a GD appeal (vs. green appeal) in a product advertisement on consumers’ attitude towards the advertisement?
3. What is the effect of a self-reported consumers’ attitude towards the advertisement that communicate a GD appeal (vs. green appeal) on consumers’ purchase behavior?
4. To what extent does age moderate the direct relationship between the appeal type in a product advertisement and consumers’ purchase behavior?
Review of the relevant academic literature & hypothesis development CSR and CER
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a concept that has gained lots of attention in recent years (Lougee & Wallace, 2008). It entails accepting responsibility for your company’s influence on people, the environment, and society (Netherlands Enterprise Agency, 2021).
Corporate environmental responsibility (CER), which derives from CSR, has become a global trend as environmental sustainability becomes more important to economic development (Li et
al., 2019). According to the concept of sustainable development, a company’s primary purpose is no longer profit maximization. Besides, CER is expected to become a competitive advantage for firms in the future (Lloret, 2016).
In many situations, marketers have operationalized the environmental pillar of CSR by focusing on a company’s marketing activities being “greened.” This concept is known as green marketing, and it is one of the newest marketing concepts (Chen, 2010). So, the traditional way how companies communicate their CER activities is through green advertising (Kvitblik &
Christiansen, 2018). It is defined as “the process of promoting products or services based on their environmental benefits. These products or services may be environmentally friendly in themselves or produced in an environmentally friendly way” (Ward, 2020, para.1). It can be seen as green advertising when advertising fits one or more of the following criteria: (1) discusses the product's relationship with the environment, (2) promotes a green lifestyle with or without a product, or (3) portrays a corporate image of environmental responsibility (Hartmann & Apaolaza-Ibáñez, 2009). In the end, green advertising promotes sustainable consumption (Hwang et al., 2016). Every year, organizations spend more money on green advertising by communicating green appeals to encourage consumers to buy green products (Putte, 2009).
Besides this traditional form of green advertising, recent research has proposed a new strategy to promote sustainability and comply with consumers’ growing demands, namely green demarketing (Kvitblik & Christiansen, 2018). Green demarketing is an extension of the concept of demarketing, which is a company’s efforts to reduce product demand (Kotler &
Levy, 1971). Kotler stated that demarketing is crucial to combat overconsumption. “Without demarketing, we experience the Tragedy of the Commons where everyone uses too much of a public good” (The Marketing Journal, 2017, para.12). To minimize harm to both individuals and the environment, businesses must incorporate demarketing thinking into their strategy (The Marketing Journal, 2017). Green demarketing is defined as “a strategy in which a for-profit brand encourages reduced overall category consumption for the sake of the environment”
(Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016, p.442). This new sustainable business strategy aims to avoid buying and encourage consumers to reduce their consumption to counter health or environmental consequences (Kim et al., 2018). When applying it to advertisements, green demarketing can be interpreted as a form of green advertising with an anti-consumption message (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015). Such an ad is a component of sustainable consumption. Still, it can be distinguished because this type of advertisement contains an explicit message that discourages purchase or encourages people to buy fewer products (Black
& Cherrier, 2010). Anti-consumption “literally means against consumption” (Lee et al., 2009, p.145). Green demarketing has become a unique research topic in marketing literature over the last decade and benefits both individual brands and the environment (Makri et al., 2020).
Furthermore, in many industries, such as the fast-growing fashion industry and food industry, overconsumption is causing significant damage to the environment (United Nations, 2018). A GD appeal is becoming a more widely used message by marketers to communicate environmental sustainability, especially to combat this major issue of overconsumption, which is the most significant cause of environmental degradation (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016;
Sekhon & Armstrong Soule, 2020). According to Sekhon & Armstrong Soule (2020), the greatest impact cannot be achieved through post-consumption initiatives (e.g., recycling) or packaging but rather by encouraging large-scale decreased consumption. Green demarketing
and anti-consumption actions not only have benefits for the earth but can be profitable for individual brands as well (Sekhon & Armstrong Soule, 2020).
Though, the number of green demarketing advertisements to discourage demand for the sake of the environment is low (Hesse & Rünz, 2020). One of the few but best-known international green demarketing advertisements is ‘Don’t buy this jacket’ (see Appendix 1) from the famous apparel brand Patagonia (Moss, 2018; Patagonia, 2020). Their goal was to encourage consumers to think before buying to reduce environmental damage. However, the more Patagonia rejects consumerism, by communicating a buy less appeal, the more the brand sells (Demkes, 2020). Another famous example of a green demarketing advertisement is the
‘Fly Responsibly’ campaign of the Dutch airline KLM (see Appendix 1). “Fly Responsibly is KLM’s commitment to taking a leading role in creating a more sustainable future for aviation”
(KLM, n.d., para.1). According to KLM, it is more than simply a marketing campaign. It is an initiative that encourages industry decision-makers and consumers to join KLM to strive for sustainable aviation (ADCN, n.d.). They try to accomplish this by encouraging reduced consumption on the category level (flights), while boosting the purchase of a focal brand (Hesse
& Rünz, 2020).
Advertising appeals are defined as the strategy used to capture consumers’ attention or impact their feelings about a brand, product, or service. It is the fundamental idea of a commercial, and it appeals to a person's need, wants, or interest to persuade to do the desired action (Saurav, 2020). Product advertisement is defined as an advertisement that is designed to promote specific products or services and aims to inform consumers about the product’s characteristics and benefits (Solomon et al., 2012, as cited in Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016).
In sum, this means that the appeal type in product advertisement is defined as the approach in
an ad that aims to promote a specific product or service (Solomon et al., 2012, as cited in Reich
& Armstrong Soule, 2016, Saurav, 2020). Reich & Armstrong Soule (2016) compare two types of advertising appeals in their research, namely traditional green appeals with the message “buy green” and less conventional green demarketing (GD) appeals with the message “don’t buy or buy less”. Both appeals focus on the commitment of a brand to environmental sustainability, but in different ways (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). Additionally, Tih et al. (2016) state that examining the effectiveness of varying appeal types will help encourage sustainable behaviors, which eventually will benefit a wide range of environmental stakeholders (e.g., companies, consumers, and society).
Traditional green appeals (“buy green”) aim to encourage greener consumption and focus on traditional means, such as advertising the environmental friendliness of a product or brand through ‘green’ materials or processes (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016; Kvitblik &
Christiansen, 2018). According to the regulatory focus theory, this green marketing advertisement can be considered promotion-focused, a relatively progressive strategy (Zhang et al., 2021). “Promotion focus involves the motivation to achieve gains, with emphasis on aspirations and ideals and a preference for eager/approach strategies” (Files et al., 2019, p.1).
It is promotion-focused since these green appeals aim to encourage consumers to buy green products (Zhang et al., 2021).
GD appeals (“don’t buy or buy less”) strive to suppress demand and protect the environment by encouraging anti-consumption and reduced consumption (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015). Therefore, this appeal is seen as prevention-focused, a relatively conservative strategy since it activates a traditional mindset (Zhang et al., 2021). “Prevention focus involves the motivation to avoid loss, with emphasis on obligations and responsibilities and a preference for vigilant/avoidant strategies” (Files et al., 2019, p.1).
One of the biggest challenges is to promote and encourage consumers to adopt environmentally sustainable behaviors (White & Simpson, 2013). When examining the persuasiveness of both product advertising appeals, earlier research primarily used inferences, attitudes, and purchase intentions as dependent variables (Kim et al. 2018; Line et al., 2016;
Segev et al., 2015, as cited in Zhang et al., 2021). This indicates that these studies mainly focused on the effect of a GD appeal on consumers’ attitudes and purchase intentions.
Furthermore, the study of Reich & Armstrong Soule (2016) only measured attitude a as dependent variable, rather than behavior. Attitudes are, in general, good predictors of behavior, though this is not always the truth (Ajzen, 1991). For this reason, it is advised for future studies to look beyond measuring attitudes and focus on examining how these different appeal types affect purchase behavior. Thus, it is also relevant to examine changes in purchase behavior due to these various product advertising appeals (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). Consumers’
purchase behavior is defined as “final consumer behavior during the purchase” (Delafrooz et al., 2014, p.5). According to Guo & Barnes (2011), purchase behavior generally consists of five stages whereby consumers’ motivations and intentions to pursue real products is the first stage, and actual purchase behavior is the last stage. Thus, purchase behavior includes both intentions to purchase and actual purchase behavior. Tsai et al. (2019, p.4) define actual purchase behavior as “a process through which people seek, choose, purchase, use, evaluate, and handle products or services to satisfy their needs and wants.”
Additionally, author JB MacKinnon (2015) proposes a straightforward solution for the major issue of overconsumption, namely “buy less”, but the remaining question is if this GD appeal eventually leads to consumers purchasing nothing or less (MacKinnon, 2015; Waters, 2021). Patagonia’s “Buy Less” campaign has resulted in more sales and greater revenue than reduced consumption (Lowitt, 2011; Stock, 2013; MacKinnon, 2015; Demkes, 2020). Although
their purpose was in line with encouraging consumers to buy less for the sake of the environment (Demkes, 2020), in the end, some individuals are sensitive towards such an unexpected message and will be triggered to purchase even more instead of buying nothing or less. This results in a backfire effect because it increases consumerism rather than reduces overconsumption. So, according to this real-life example, a GD appeal could be less effective.
However, this result is conflicting with the studies of Ramirez et al. (2017) and Reich &
Armstrong Soule (2015). Both studies stated that brands who engage in a green demarketing strategy might effectively shape behavior. In other words, this implies that using a GD appeal in product advertisements could be effective since it eventually results in a shift to a more sustainable behavior of no or even less consumption. These different lines of reasoning in literature deserve more attention and will be a theoretical contribution to this research. Besides, so far, no empirical evidence has been found if these GD appeals reduce consumption at the end (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). Since few researchers have studied consumers’ purchase behavior in the context of appeal types in product advertisements (Wee et al., 2014), this research aims to fill this gap in literature by exploring the effect of two different appeal types on consumers’ purchase behavior.
Following the preceding discussion, this research will follow the school of the two empirical studies (Ramirez et al., 2017; Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015) since these are more academic. Therefore, it is expected that companies and brands who engage in a green demarketing strategy can effectively shape purchase behavior. Hence, the following hypothesis is proposed:
H1: The use of a GD appeal (vs. green appeal) in a product advertisement has a significant and positive effect on consumers’ purchase behavior, indicating a desired purchase behavior
of no or less consumption.
Attitude towards the advertisement
“Attitude is an expression of feelings of likes or dislikes from someone who can be reflected on a particular object” (Rini et al., 2017, as cited in Kusuma & Handayani, 2018, p.97). It has been proven that message types utilized in advertisements can have an impact on the evaluation of brand attitudes, depending on whether the focus is on promotion (green appeal) or prevention (GD appeal) (Jung Lee, 2021). In most cases, these attitudes significantly influence behavior (Engel et al., 1994, as cited in Kusuma & Handayani, 2018). Purchasing behavior is the outcome of the development of attitudes (Leonidou et al., 2010). However, as mentioned before, this is not always the case (Ajzen, 1991).
Although earlier studies examined attitudes towards both product advertising appeals, it can be concluded that consumers’ reactions and attitudes towards a GD appeal remain unclear and are complicated, multi-dimensional, and ambiguous (Hesse & Rünz, 2020). Moreover, there is a lack of empirical evidence in the literature on consumers’ responses and attitudes towards advertisements that communicate such an unexpected and explicit message (Reich &
Armstrong Soule, 2016). Nevertheless, these reactions towards the ad play a role in determining whether or not such advertisements are accepted and successful in a way that they are leading to the desired purchase behavior (Hesse & Rünz, 2020). Therefore, it is relevant to examine the attitude of individuals towards this GD appeal a brand employs through a green demarketing strategy (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015). The attitude towards the advertisement is defined as “a predisposition to respond in a favorable or unfavorable manner to a particular advertising stimulus during a particular exposure occasion” (Lutz, 1985, as cited in MacKenzie et al., 1986, p.130). Previous research suggests that attitude towards the ad reflects consumers' feelings of favorability toward the advertisement (Mitchell & Olson 1981; Shimp, 1981).
Furthermore, as mentioned before, a critical point of attention is that the findings in literature about consumers’ attitudes towards GD product advertisements and green product
advertisements are contradictory. On the one hand, the research of Reich & Armstrong Soule (2016) argues that consumers' attitudes toward green product advertisements are more favorable than those for GD product advertisements. On the other hand, Kvitblik & Christiansen (2018) state precisely the opposite. Their experimental study shows that GD appeals had a more significant effect on attitude towards the ad than green appeals.
Besides, there are also conflicting results in literature about consumers’ attitudes towards green demarketing strategies (vs. green marketing strategies) when comparing different industries (fashion vs. food industry). Within the fashion industry, research is contradictory. On the one hand, the research of Kim et al. (2018) demonstrates that GD product advertisements positively affect consumers’ attitudes and behavioral intentions. However, the study of Hwang et al. (2016) concludes that the participants who saw the anti-consumption product advertisement had fewer positive attitudes than those who saw the traditional green advertisement (Hwang et al., 2016). Within the food industry, the study of Zhang et al. (2021) argues that consumers have a negative attitude toward new and unexpected information communicated through a GD appeal in advertisements. They concluded that a green demarketing strategy resulted in relatively negative customer evaluations (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). This research by Zhang et al. (2021) investigated the effectiveness of a green demarketing strategy (vs. green marketing strategy) in the context of green restaurant promotion. According to their findings, a green demarketing strategy does not outperform a green marketing strategy directly since restaurant consumers perceived green demarketing strategies as relatively negative compared to green marketing strategies. Consumers may believe that all restaurant activities encourage consumers to consume more because restaurants are for-profit businesses. As a result, a green demarketing strategy that persuades people to buy nothing or buy less may seem unbelievable, resulting in relatively negative customer evaluations (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). These contradictory results in literature deserve
more attention and make it relevant to study consumers’ attitudes towards both GD product advertisements and green product advertisements.
Following the school of the most recent empirical study that also compared the two appeals in a food industry context, it is expected that when a GD appeal is communicated in a product advertisement, it will have a greater negative effect on consumers’ attitude towards this ad. Therefore, the following hypothesis is stated:
H2: The use of a GD appeal (vs. green appeal) in a product advertisement has a significant and negative effect on consumers’ attitude towards the advertisement.
Green attitude-behavior gap
Previous research suggests that attitude towards the advertisement has a mediating effect on brand attitude and purchase intention (Mitchell & Olson 1981; Shimp, 1981).
However, as mentioned before, besides looking at purchase intentions, it is also relevant to examine changes in purchase behavior (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). This makes it relevant to investigate if the attitude towards the ad also has a mediating effect on purchase behavior. A large body of literature shows that consumers’ attitudes towards green advertisements, products, or brands are highly associated with green intentions and purchases (Witek & Kúzniar, 2021). This may indicate that a positive attitude towards an ad that communicates a “buy green” appeal should result in a behavior of buying green products.
However, many previous studies have reported a green attitude-behavior gap, which is a discrepancy between consumers’ favorable attitude towards a green product or advertisement and purchase behavior (Joshi & Rahman, 2015). Nowadays, companies are challenged with this gap since consumers have favorable attitudes towards advertisements that convey a “buy green”
appeal and encourage pro-environmental behavior. These consumers say that they have the intention to purchase more green products, but in the end, they often do not turn it into a
sustainable purchase behavior of buying green (Hesse & Rünz, 2020). This indicates that positive attitudes towards advertisements and purchase intentions are not always translated into the desired purchase behavior (Niessen & Hamm, 2008, as cited in Tsai et al., 2019).
Besides, attitudes do not totally influence the intention to purchase environmentally friendly products (Morel & Kwakye, 2012, as cited in Kusuma & Handayani, 2018). This indicates that when an individual has a positive attitude towards an ad that focuses on environmental friendliness, it does not mean that they intend to engage in green purchasing behavior (Leonidou et al., 2010). This green attitude-behavior gap is also shown in a survey that revealed that 65 percent of the participants stated that they have a positive attitude and the intention to buy from brands that advocate for sustainability and thus communicate a green appeal. Still, only 26 percent actually turn it into the behavior of purchasing more green products (White et al., 2020). Since the literature discussed above focuses on green advertising, it is related to the effect of a green appeal in advertisements on the attitude-behavior gap. Green demarketing is a relatively new strategy, and therefore, literature about the impact of a GD appeal on the attitude-behavior gap is rare. Because of this, the proposed hypothesis is based on the existing literature related to a green appeal. Although GD appeals communicate another message, both appeals focus on a brand’s commitment to environmental sustainability (Reich
& Armstrong Soule, 2016). A GD appeal is also a component of sustainable consumption (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015).
The existing literature argues that consumers do have favorable attitudes towards advertisements that convey a “buy green” appeal and encourage pro-environmental behavior.
However, in the end, they often do not turn it into a sustainable purchase behavior of buying green (Hesse & Rünz, 2020).
Based on this, the following hypothesis is proposed:
H3: The self-reported consumers’ attitude towards the product advertisement that communicates a GD appeal (vs. green appeal) negatively influences consumers’ purchase
The moderating role of age
Wee et al. (2014) state that demographics influence certain desires and needs. Marketers will be more successful in targeting their potential customers if they segment potential customers based on demographic factors. As a result, it is no surprise that socio-demographic factors are the most commonly used variable for profiling. Research showed that one of the most important demographic factors that impact purchase behavior is age (Rani, 2014, as cited in Slabá, 2020). Additionally, many previous studies have found that socio-demographic characteristics such as gender and age have an impact on consumers’ green purchase behavior (Witek & Kúzniar, 2021). Thus, those studies argued that age is a predictor of purchase behavior.
However, existing literature about the effects of different age categories on green purchase behavior is contradictory. On the one hand, research shows that the green consumer is slightly older, with most green consumers being between the ages of 30 and 44. It seems that the older the participants, the more likely they will purchase green products (Witek & Kúzniar, 2021). In this case, it can be assumed that the older the participants, the more likely it is that a green appeal is accepted and will result in the desired behavior of purchasing more green products. Other studies share the same opinion since their research showed that older consumers consume more environmentally-friendly products and are more likely to be green consumers (Pan & Sparkes, 2012; Gilg et al., 2005). On the other hand, previous studies argue that younger audiences are more engaged in environmental action than older generations (Dietz et al., 1998;
Stern, 2000). Moreover, younger adults were consistently more supportive of environmental
protection than older adults (Jones & Dunlap, 1992, as cited in Yoon & Kim, 2016). In this case, it can be assumed that the younger the participants, the more likely it is that a green appeal is accepted and will result in the desired action of purchasing more green products. These contradictory results in the literature are relevant to examine.
Following the preceding discussion, it can be concluded that age affects green purchase behavior, and previous studies about different age categories regarding green purchase behavior are contradictory. However, this is based on green appeals and since the concept of green demarketing is a new type of sustainable business strategy, little is known in the case of a GD appeal (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2015). Therefore, a contribution of this study is to investigate the moderating role of age in the case of a GD appeal and the effectiveness of a GD appeal among different age categories as motivation for no or less consumption. Because of the lack of empirical evidence regarding anti-consumption and reduced consumption (GD appeal), this research will follow the school of the most recent existing literature about green appeals.
As mentioned before, although GD appeals communicate another message, both are part of the concept of green advertising and for the environments’ sake. The school argues that older consumers are more likely to purchase green. Thus, the following hypothesis is stated:
H4: The direct effect is moderated by age so that older (vs. younger) consumers react more positively to a GD appeal which results in the desired purchase behavior of no or less
Below in Figure 2 the conceptual framework visualizes the proposed relationships and the expected signs between the variables based on previous literature.
H2 (-) H3 (-)
Appeal type in product advertisement GD appeal vs. green appeal
Consumers’ attitude towards the advertisement
Consumers’ purchase behavior
Age H1 (+)
H4 (+) Figure 2
Conceptual Framework with Expected Signs
Data & Method Research design
To test and confirm the hypotheses, research based on quantitative methods was necessary. This study aimed to test the causal link between variables. Therefore, an online research with a single factor two-level between subjects’ experimental design was realized since an experimental design can establish causal evidence (Saunders & Lewis, 2011). To achieve internal validity, an experiment was conducted as this is the only method that can show a causal relationship and exclude confounding factors. The independent variable was manipulated and primary data was used for this manipulation. This variable consisted of two conditions, namely a GD appeal (“don’t buy or buy less”) and a green appeal (“buy green”).
Participants were randomly and equally assigned to either one of the two groups. The approval from the EBEC committee can be found in Appendix 2.
Operationalization of the variables Appeal type in product advertisement
This variable was defined as the approach that is used in an advertisement that aims to promote a specific product or service (Solomon et al., 2012, as cited in Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016; Saurav, 2020). It was manipulated as GD appeal and green appeal communicated in a fictional print product advertisement of the existing company Nespresso. The context of both stimuli and the reason for choosing Nespresso will be explained in the section Research stimuli.
This construct was defined as “final consumer behavior during the purchase” (Delafrooz et al., 2014, p.5) and included both purchase intention as well as actual purchase behavior.
However, research that includes consumers’ choice or actual behavior are dealing with the common problem that consumers often pay less attention to the choice-relevant information than they would do in a real-life choice task (Yang et al., 2013). According to Yang et al. (2013), incentive-compatible choice designs are a solution to this problem since in this type of experiment, “each decision is realized with some probability”. An incentive-compatible choice is part of incentive alignment, defined as “inducing subjects to behave more closely to how they would behave in real-life situations” (Yang et al., 2013, p.2). It is difficult to measure actual behavior in an online setting but to still measure actual purchase behavior, this current research accommodated actual purchases the closest possible with an incentive-compatible design to make it look like a real-life choice (Weihrauch & Huang, 2021). This variable was measured through three questions in a structured online survey questionnaire. However, one of the questions was excluded from further analysis due to different reasons. These motives will be further explained in chapter 4. Thus, the dependent variable was measured through two separate questions; one related to incentive-compatible purchase behavior (actual behavior) and one related to self-reported purchase behavior (purchase intention). The first question aimed to measure incentive-compatible purchase behavior via voluntary participating in a lottery to win the product. Via a multiple-choice question, participants had to indicate which of the four options they preferred (1) win the NOMAD Travel Mug, (2) win an Amazon gift card, (3) donate money to a charity foundation, and (4) not participate in the lottery. The second question aimed to measure self-reported purchase behavior via six measurement items. The first three items were related to green marketing and based on previous research (Lee, 2009; Kim & Choi, 2005;
Schmuck et al., 2017). The last three items were related to green demarketing and made-up for the purpose of this research. The individual items can be found in Table 8 in Appendix 3. All six items were measured on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1=“Strongly disagree” to 7=“Strongly agree”.
Attitude towards the advertisement
This variable was defined as a predisposition to respond in favorably or unfavorably to a particular advertising stimulus during a specific occasion of exposure (Lutz, 1985, as cited in MacKenzie et al., 1986, p.130). It was measured with one survey question where participants were requested to indicate their feelings towards the ad on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1=“Strongly disagree” to 7=“Strongly agree”. The four measurement items were used from the original work of MacKenzie & Lutz (1989) that also measured attitude towards the advertisement as a mediator, and the same items were later also included in more recent research about green advertising (Schmuck et al., 2018). The individual items are visible in Table 8 in Appendix 3.
This construct was defined as how old an individual is in years. In the last section of the survey, the open question “What is your exact age (in years)?” was asked where participants provided their age.
Brand attitude (control variable)
This variable was defined as “a predisposition to respond in a favorable or unfavorable manner to a particular brand after the advertising stimulus has been shown to the individual”
(Phelps & Hoy, 1996, p.90). It was essential to include this as a control variable since, according to literature, brand attitude is related to consumer behavior (Lee & Kang, 2013, as cited in Augusto & Torres, 2018), and a higher brand attitude will affect the purchase intention (Voester et al., 2016). The question “What is your attitude towards the brand Nespresso?” was asked before the manipulation to prevent participants’ attitude towards the brand Nespresso changed after seeing the stimulus. This control variable was assessed with five measurement items taken
from the research of Schmuck et al. (2017) and was later also used in the study of Schmuck et al. (2018). The individual items were measured on a 7-point bipolar scale and are demonstrated in Table 8 in Appendix 3.
Environmental concern (control variable)
This variable was defined as “awareness of environmental problems and perception of the necessity to protect the environment” (Schwartz & Miller, 1991, as cited in Schmuck et al., 2017, p.417). Participants were asked to indicate their opinion about four statements regarding their environmental concern based on available scales. All items were based on the original research of Schuhwerk & Lefkoff-Hagius (1995) but later also used in the more recent studies of Matthes & Wonneberger (2014), Schmuck et al. (2017), and Schmuck et al. (2018). The individual items are presented in Table 8 in Appendix 3. All six items were measured on a 7- point Likert scale ranging from 1=“Strongly disagree” to 7=“Strongly agree”.
Familiarity with the brand (control variable)
Brand familiarity was defined as customers’ cumulative related experiences with a brand (Alba & Hutchison, 1987). Previous research showed that familiarity might influence advertising effectiveness (Campbell & Keller, 2003). Therefore, brand familiarity was included in this study as a control variable and was assessed with one item modified from available scales. This measurement item was originally developed by Johnson & Russo (1984) but later also used in the research of Tam (2008). The individual item is visible in Table 8 in Appendix 3 and was measured on a 7-point Likert scale anchored at 1=“Not familiar at all” to 7=“Extremely familiar”.
Gender (control variable)
The demographic variable gender has been extensively studied in advertising research.
Previous studies show different solutions regarding the effect of gender on consumers’
reactions towards advertising (Yu, 2018). Yet, most existing literature revealed that women’s responses and attitudes towards advertising were more favorable than for men (Berney-Reddish
& Areni, 2006; Bush et al., 1999; Papyrina, 2013; Wolburg & Pokrywczynski, 2001).
Moreover, the research of Tikka et al. (2000) argued that women express a more positive attitude towards the environment compared to men. Therefore, gender was included as a control variable since it may impact the relationships. The variable was measured with the multiple- choice question “How do you identify yourself?” and the four answer options were: (1) Male, (2) Female, (3) Non-binary/third gender, (4) I prefer not to say.
Data collection and sample
The data collection took place in an online setting whereby the experiment was conducted through a structured self-reported survey questionnaire distributed via the online survey tool Qualtrics. Participants were gathered through the online participant recruitment tool Prolific to get the most diverse sample possible since participants varied in age and gender. It was decided only to collect UK citizens since they are native speakers and therefore language confusion can be avoided. Participants were compensated £0.67 for their participation because this was, according to Prolific, a reasonably good amount to incentivize participants. According to the mean (M=325.36), the participants took on average 5.42 minutes to fulfill the survey which was similar to the expected duration of the survey. A total of 315 participants were recruited and this sample size was based on the requirement of a minimum of 50 participants per cell when testing correlation and regression (Wilson Van Voorhis & Morgan, 2007).
However, the sample size was increased to acquire enough different age categories to test the
moderating role. In the end, this sample size was similar to the sample size (N=303) of the empirical study of Reich & Armstrong Soule (2015), who also utilized a two-cell (appeal type:
GD vs. green) design in product advertising.
First of all, to accomplish external validity, participation was voluntary and anonymous.
After clicking on the survey link, participants were first asked to carefully read the consent form (see Appendix 4) since this was crucial for ethical reasons. After agreeing on the consent, participants were asked to fill in the question related to the control variable brand attitude. Then, each participant was randomly and equally assigned to either the experimental or the control group and all participants were asked to read the ad carefully. The experimental group saw the anti-consumption product advertisement that communicated the GD appeal. The control group saw the traditional product advertisement that expressed the green appeal. In the next paragraph, the stimuli will be further explained. After being exposed to the manipulation, participants were asked to write down the advertisement title. This served as a reinforced attention check to increase internal validity and ensure that the manipulation of the independent variable worked.
Literally re-stating the title would indicate that the respondent had been exposed to either the GD appeal or the green appeal. The participants who wrote down an incorrect title (N=3) were removed as this would indicate that they did not pay sufficient attention to the stimulus.
Thereafter, questions were asked to measure purchase behavior. The survey continued with one question about participants’ general attitude towards the product advertisement. Next, participants were requested to mention how familiar they were with Nespresso and afterward to what extent they agreed with statements related to their environmental concern. In the last section of the survey, participants filled in their exact age and indicated how they identify themselves (gender). Finally, all participants could report questions and comments.
At the end of the survey, all participants were debriefed that the brand and product were real but the print advertisement itself was fictional, manufactured specifically for the purpose of this study. Also, they were told that the Nespresso was just used as an example and thus not engaged in this research. As mentioned before, an incentive-compatible choice design in the form of a lottery was used to measure actual purchase behavior. Due to privacy reasons, it was impossible to run a lottery with the product. Therefore, the participants were informed that the winner received a £22 additional (bonus) payment via Prolific. All participants were requested to indicate if they wanted to participate in the lottery. The survey ended with a thank you message. The complete survey is visible in Appendix 5.
Previous studies tested the differences between the two appeals with a single fictional brand name rather than a real brand. They stated that it is not clear if consumers will react the same way in situations with real brands (Kvitblik & Christiansen, 2018; Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). Besides, these studies argued that using a fictional brand in advertisements makes it difficult for participants to have an attitude towards it. Therefore, it was suggested that it is relevant for further research to examine the differences between the appeal types with a real company or brand that promote reduced consumption and has a strong focus on sustainability (Reich & Armstrong Soule, 2016). Focusing on an existing company and real product may also increase ecological validity since the study is more realistic. The World Finance Magazine honors businesses for their dedication to environmental sustainability with a Sustainability Award. The worldwide jury had recognized Nespresso’s achievements in sustainability over the last 30 years and for this reason Nespresso was voted the “Most Sustainable Company in the Coffee Processing Industry 2021” (World Finance, n.d.; Nespresso, n.d.). Nespresso’s Head of Sustainability, Jérôme Perez, stated “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do. I’m proud
of the achievement we have already made in scaling sustainable coffee farming and recycling provision, in enabling industry wide capsule recycling, in reducing the Nespresso carbon footprint per cup” (Nespresso, n.d., para.5). Since sustainability is deeply engaged in the DNA of Nespresso, this real company was selected for this study. Moreover, Nespresso also fits in the product advertising context since it promotes a product or service. For Nespresso, two fictional print product advertisements were created for the Nespresso NOMAD Travel Mug.
This is a reusable, sustainable cup and aims to reduce the phenomenon of buying throw away coffee cups (Nespresso, n.d.). Nespresso currently sells this product on their website, in their stores, and on websites like bol.com. So, the company and product were real, but the two print advertisements were fictional, manufactured specifically for the purpose of this study.
Additionally, the context of both stimuli was based on the stimuli that were used in the research of Zhang et al. (2021). This research investigated the effect of restaurant green demarketing and focused on the main messages “order smaller” and “order greener”. Instead of a restaurant setting, this study focuses on green demarketing in product advertising.
Therefore, for the purpose of this research, the stimuli were modified to the main messages
“don’t buy or buy less” (GD appeal) and “buy green” (green appeal). Furthermore, the messages “ordering smaller portions” and “ordering greener dishes” were adapted to “not be buying or buying less throw away coffee cups” and “buying green (recyclable) coffee cups”.
The content and word count of the advertisements were the same across conditions except for a few key sentences. Finally, for the look and feel and to make it look like a real ad, the Nespresso logo and the product were included. The stimuli can be found in Appendix 6.
All data were analyzed by SPSS version 27. After data cleaning and several analyses to prepare the data (e.g., factor analysis, reliability analysis, normality checks), a correlation test was conducted to determine which variables were correlated and which control variables needed to be included in further analysis. Next, several regression analyses were performed.
The aim of a regression analysis is to analyze the relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable. The variance in the data can be explained by the predictor variables.
First, Model 5 from PROCESS v 4.0 macro of Andrew F. Hayes was conducted since this model tests for mediation and moderation in the same model, which allows testing the framework as a whole (Hayes, 2018). Model 5 was run with and without covariates.
Additionally, a Logistic Regression analysis for the binary variable and two Multiple Linear Regression analyses for the scale variables were performed to test the effects without the interaction term.
Results Data preparation
315 participants were imported from Qualtrics in SPSS. The frequency check did not show any missing data or errors since the questions were programmed with a “forced validation” in Qualtrics. Two participants were deleted since they answered ‘no’ on the question if their data could be used in this study. Also, three participants were deleted since they failed the reinforced attention check question. Moreover, after analyzing the frequencies of all standardized scores, five univariate outliers (Z > -3) were discovered and removed from the dataset by including a filter. This decision was made to prevent that it might lead to incorrect research results as the aim was to have high-quality data, and besides, the sample size was also still sufficient. Finally, the fourth option for the incentive-compatible purchase behavior variable (Choice_lottery) was excluded from the dataset (N=25) since these participants had completely unrelated motivations. Deleting all these cases resulted in a total final sample size of N=280 that was included in the statistical analysis.
As mentioned before, one of the questions to measure purchase behavior was excluded from further analysis. The scale was perceived as reliable (α=.78), and all four items were above .30. However, to simplify further analysis, this question was not included in the actual analysis because (1) these scale items were very similar to the items of the other scale question (self- reported purchase behavior), (2) these items were made-up and not based on previous literature, (3) the items of the other scale question showed high reliability, and (4) it was not a problem to exclude this question since the dependent variable was still measured through two valid variables; incentive-compatible purchase behavior (categorical) and self-reported purchase behavior (scale). Thus, the items Behavior_1, Behavior_2, Behavior_3, and RBehavior_4 were not used.
Recoding and computing means
As this study conducted an online experiment with two conditions, first a new variable was computed with both conditions combined (Appealtype). This variable was recoded into 0=green and 1=GD. Furthermore, to simplify visualization, understanding and make it easier to compare, the variable incentive-compatible purchase behavior (Choice_lottery) was translated into a binary variable (PB_lottery) and recoded into 1=1, 2=0, 3=1. Thus, option one and three were combined (N=127) since both were related to a GD appeal (no or less consumption) and compared to the second option that is related to normal consumption (N=153). Moreover, the variable self-reported purchase behavior consisted of six items. It was split into two new computed variables (PB_green and PB_GD) since the first three items were related to a green appeal (green consumption) and the last three items were related to a GD appeal (no or less consumption). This was also concluded from the factor analysis that showed that they belong to two different factors rather than the same factor (see section Factor Analysis). PB_green consisted of the items Purchasebehavior_1, Purchasebehavior_2, and Purchasebehavior_3, whereas PB_GD consisted of Purchasebehavior_4, Purchasebehavior_5, and Purchasebehavior_6. After computing the new variables, this resulted in a total of three variables to measure purchase behavior; (1) incentive-compatible purchase behavior (PB_lottery), (2) self-reported purchase behavior green (PB_green), and (3) self-reported purchase behavior GD (PB_GD). PB_lottery is a binary categorical variable but comes close to actual purchase behavior (incentive-compatible), and the continuous scale variables measure actual behavior less but are more reliable. Therefore, both variables were included in the further analysis as parts of the dependent variable purchase behavior since they both have an added value. Additionally, one of the aims to fill the gaps in literature was to compare younger and older consumer. Thus, it was decided to recode the moderator Age into a dichotomized variable, a categorical variable with two groups. There are several ways to turn a
continuous variable into a dichotomous variable. One of those ways is a standard median split (DeCoster et al., 2011). First, age was recoded into a dichotomized variable (Age_Dicho) based on a median split (coded as lowest thru 37=0, 38 thru highest=1). Second, age was recoded into another dichotomized variable (Age_lit) based on literature (Krueger & Heckhausen, 1993;
Heckhausen & Baltes, 1991, Thakor et al., 2008; Belleau et al., 2007) (coded as lowest thru 34=0, 35 thru highest=1). However, median splits tend to produce the best results when the original variable is normally distributed (DeCoster et al., 2011; Cohen, 1983). According to the normality check, age showed a normal distribution with a moderate positive skewness (M=38.29, skewness= .65). Therefore, further analysis only used the recoded dichotomized variable according to the median split (Age_Dicho). Furthermore, since most of the participants were female, a dummy variable was created, and gender was recoded into a new variable (Female). The female category was used as the baseline group (1) and male as the reference group (0) since no participants stated non-binary/third gender, or I prefer not to say. Finally, to be able to test the hypotheses, scales for attitude towards advertisement (AdAt), brand attitude (BA), and environmental concern (EC) were computed through the mean calculation of their items. For clarification, an overview of the variable names with their abbreviations in SPSS is demonstrated in Table 9 in Appendix 7.
A factor analysis was conducted on the scales to examine if the constructs were valid and to increase internal validity. Since the conceptual framework will be tested as much as possible at once, all five constructs need to be valid. The method Principal components and the direct Oblimin rotation for 5 factors were used. The correlation matrix showed that each construct correlated lower with other constructs than with each other. In other words, all items that should measure the same constructs had similar values. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olklin measure
verified the sampling adequacy for the analysis and since it was above .60, the strength of the relationships among variables was high (KMO=.89, p=.000). Bartlett’s test of sphericity X2 (171)=3566.06, p<.001, indicated that the correlations between items were sufficiently large for the principal components analysis. Finally, as showed in the pattern matrix (see Table 10 in Appendix 8), all items that measure the same constructs had similar values and belonged to the same factor. However, there was one exception since Purchasebehavior_4 belonged to both factors This could be explained since this item contains the message buy less (PB_GD) and for the sake of the environment (PB_green). However, according to the matrix, this item belonged more to PB_GD and this was also the intention since the focus of this statement is on “buy less”. Additionally, self-reported purchase behavior was split into two computed variables because Purchasebehavior_5 and Purchasebehavior_6 did not have similar values as the first three statements and were seen as separate factors. So, the two variables can never influence each other and this overlap of one item was therefore not a problem. Thus, Purchasebehavior_4 is part of factor 4 and it was accepted to proceed with the analysis with five factors since the constructs were valid.
A normality check was done for all scale variables to determine if the data set was well- modeled by a normal distribution. The skewness and kurtosis showed whether or not the variables were normally distributed with skewness between -1 and 1 as acceptable values. The three items for both PB_green (M=5.51, skewness= -.43) and PB_GD (M=4.56, skewness= - .14) showed a normal distribution with a skewness between -1 and 1. Furthermore, the data of the mediator AdAt were normally distributed with a moderate negative skewness (M=4.86, skewness= -.74). Both the control variable BA (M=4.95, skewness= -.29) and EC (M=5.78, skewness= -.94) showed a normal distribution with a skewness within the acceptable range.