Sustainability – A Tool to Shape Your Messaging

Consumer Behavior People Sustainability
Sustainable-decision-making

My research revealed three identities (how we perceive ourselves, others, and organizations) and discussed four personal sustainability orientations (prioritizing ourselves, others, the planet, and having fun). 

These identities and personal sustainability orientations play a significant role in encouraging sustainable actions. I discuss these three identities and four individual orientations below.  

3 Ps of Identity

I discovered the “3 Ps of Identity” and how we can tailor messages depending on the type of identity in question. I found three main types of identity, personal, people, and place identities, that are essential for encouraging sustainable actions.  

Personal (me) identity:

This is about how I see myself personally, for example, I can see myself personally as an environmentalist or a colleague. To encourage sustainability using messages, like an advertising campaign, focus on writing ‘I’ and ‘you’ type statements. For example, to encourage cycling to work using messages via an advertising campaign, you could craft a message like this: 

‘When going to work, please think about your role personally in protecting the planet – Positively imagine yourself cycling and how that contributes positively to making a planetary change.’

 

People (we) identity:

This is about how I see myself as part of a group; for example, I can see myself as part of a group of environmentalists or colleagues. To encourage sustainability using messages, like an advertising campaign, focus on writing ‘we’ and ‘us’ type statements. For example, to encourage cycling to work using messages via an advertising campaign, you could craft a message like this: 

‘When going to work, please think about your role as part of a group in protecting the planet – Positively imagine yourself cycling with other people and how that contributes positively to making a planetary change.’

 

Place (business) identity:

This is about how I see myself as part of a business, for example, I can see myself as part of a business or affiliated with a large corporation like Procter and Gamble. To encourage sustainability using messages, like an advertising campaign, focus on writing ‘we as a business’ and ‘us as Procter and Gamble’ type statements. For example, to encourage cycling to work using messages via an advertising campaign, you could craft a message like this: 

‘When going to work, please think about your role as part of Procter and Gamble in protecting the planet – Positively imagine yourself cycling to support your business and how that contributes positively to making a planetary change.’

4 Personal Sustainability Orientations

There are “4 Personal Sustainability Orientations” that everyone has a mix of. The four orientations and an explanation are below.

Personal Sustainability Orientation

Altruistic (helping people)

This orientation means a person values helping others. People base their decision on whether this helps others. Consumers will behave morally/pro-environmentally or not depending on whether this will help people. Thus, people consume sustainable products because they are perceived as less harmful

Biospheric (helping the planet)

This orientation means a person values the planet/biosphere. People mainly base their [purchase] decision on whether this helps the planet. Consumers with this orientation will behave morally/pro-environmentally or not, depending on whether this will help the earth. Thus, people consume sustainable products because they are perceived as less harmful to the planet

Egoistic (helping oneself)

This orientation means a person values. People mainly base their [purchase] decision on whether this helps themselves. Consumers with this orientation will behave morally/pro-environmentally or not, depending on whether this will help them. Thus, people consume sustainable products because they are perceived as less harmful to themselves.  

Hedonic (having fun)

This orientation means a person values having fun. People mainly base their [purchase] decision on whether this is fun. Consumers with this orientation will behave morally/pro-environmentally or not, depending on whether this is fun. Thus, people consume sustainable products because they perceive this to be fun

To further understand yourself, others in your team, and your organization and to become more sustainable ecologically and financially, people within your business can undertake a “3 Ps of Identity” and a “Personal Sustainability Orientation” assessment. 

Further reference on: How do I see myself? A systematic review of identities in pro-environmental behavior research

Sustainable consumer behavior

Consumer Behavior Sustainability
Consumer Behaviour

Transcript

[00:00:07 –> 00:01:15] EdmundHello, everyone. This is Edmund Bradford. And in this short series of videos, we’re going to be talking about sustainable consumer behavior. Now, we hear a lot in the media about the power of customers and how they can influence good corporate sustainable behavior by companies and by brands and brand managers.
And in this series of videos, we’re going to be exploring that subject a little more deeply.
I’m going to be looking at what it is, which consumers are sustainable and which ones aren’t, and what insights companies can learn from the discussion, how they can apply insights that we bring up. So to help me with all of that, I’ve got my good friend and colleague, Dr. Alina Udal. She’s a lecturer at Warwick Business School. I’ve had my colleagues at Warwick Business School. She’s also a research fellow at Newcastle University, both in the UK. And she has a Ph.D. and a particular interest in this issue of sustainable consumer behavior. So Hello, Alina. Thank you for joining us.
[00:01:15 –> 00:01:19] AlinaHello. Really, thank you for inviting me here today.
[00:01:20 –> 00:01:45] EdmundIt’s my pleasure. The first thing I think we should do, really, is just get to understand the issue. Just understand what we’re talking about. When we talk about sustainable consumer behavior, I assume we’re talking more than just picking up Coca-Cola bottles or whatever from the beach. We’re talking about something a bit more significant. Now. What do you mean by sustainable consumer behavior?
[00:01:46 –> 00:02:54] AlinaMost broadly, sustainable consumer behavior can be defined as well. We define, at least in our papers, as those behaviors that aim to preserve the environment, prevent damage to the environment, or promote the well being to the environment, such as the consumer sort of not buying products that have the packaging, for example, which is the new way forward that companies are looking to change their behaviors, but also in your homes, like reducing your water use. And in essence, not consuming is one of the biggest things. Not consuming, as the United Nations rightly said a long time ago in 1987, they said, basically, sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. And that merely is sort of saying that we don’t want to do behaviors that potentially impact the future generations that they have to pick up the fallout of what we are doing is I like that.
[00:02:55 –> 00:03:02] EdmundI like that definition. I think it’s a really simple definition, isn’t it? Do you want to just repeat that United Nations definition?
[00:03:03 –> 00:03:04] AlinaYeah, of course.
[00:03:05 –> 00:03:06] EdmundRepeat that.
[00:03:06 –> 00:03:17] AlinaYeah. Meeting the needs of the present. So now without compromising the ability of future generations to also meet their own needs.
[00:03:18 –> 00:03:30] EdmundSo in terms of consumer behavior, it’s behaving today in a way that does not jeopardize our future, is that right?
[00:03:30 –> 00:05:38] AlinaExactly right. And consumer behavior would generally be considered maybe a subset of sustainability because it does heavily rely on those behaviors, such as what you were saying, how we behave in shops, and how we consume products and services. So it does tend to be on the consumerism side. However, in sustainability or also synonymous with pro-environmental behavior, we often really regard pro-environmental behavior or sustainability or even sustainable consumer behavior more generally, looking at the whole supply chain as well as the end consumers taking those products. So nowadays it’s considered that sustainable consumer behavior is not necessarily just focusing on the consumption and it’s actually focusing on the whole lifecycle of sale products. That’s really important because we need to look at the impact of that. And I don’t know if you noticed in the definition that I provided earlier on, but what I did mention was those behaviors that aim to prevent damage or promote the well being or preserve the planet, because actually sustainability is quite complicated. And when you do get a product, there are lots of things involved in that process. So it’s the ideal we’re looking for. We’re aiming to do that, but it might not always be as clear-cut. When you think about it, sort of buying oat milk, for example, is really good behavior. It’s considered going vegan, which is considered a really good life choice in terms of sustainability. But then if you’re consuming loads of packaging as a result of that, then also you have to think about, well, how sustainable would that be? So it’s quite a balancing act, actually thinking about what behaviors are suitable or not suitable.
[00:05:38 –> 00:06:29] EdmundYeah. And it’s a big subject. It’s a massive subject. I think from what you say, first of all, in this area that we’re talking about, it’s everything from choice of product or service at one end all the way through to how you use it and how you dispose of it the other end. Also, she says not just about the end consumer. The subject also covers maybe we call them customers, rather consumers but also covers customers all the way up and down the supply chain. That’s the area that we’re interested in. So we’re trying to generate the right demand signals, if you like, all the way through that supply chain to encourage good behavior from suppliers all the way up to the original primary raw material providers.
[00:06:29 –> 00:06:33] AlinaDefinitely agree with the way you put that. That’s really nice. Yes.
[00:06:33 –> 00:06:55] EdmundAnd just on the terms before we finish this partly just interest. So you mentioned their pro-environmental behavior. Can we use that interchangeably with sustainable consumer behavior? Are there any other terms that tend to be used, like ecological consumerism and that kind of thing? Are they kind of fairly interchangeable?
[00:06:55 –> 00:08:14] AlinaYou can use those very interchangeably. Another term, for example, has been used by Kaiser and colleagues that actually state that it’s called potentially ecological behavior. General ecological behavior, the way in which we, as psychologists or environmental psychologists define it depends on often how we also operationalize it. So, for example, if you look at one of the first papers that I did on sustainability. It’s a systematic review and I actually talk quite heavily on how the concept of environmental behavior as well as the concepts that we use in order to understand that, for example, how we see ourselves that in the literature there are so many terms often used to refer to the same thing and what people are trying to do is try and narrow that down in order to get a general consensus of what is the broad thing that we’re referring to. And I still agree with that definition that we started out within 1987. We have sustainability and the idea is that we just have subcategories based on how we are using that definition.
[00:08:15 –> 00:08:47] EdmundThanks, Alina. When it comes down to the cost of education, isn’t it that’s educating the consumer, the more educated consumer or the customers are right way through that supply chain about this complex issue that the better able they are to make the right sort of choices? So I’ll leave it there. Lena, thank you very much for that. In the next interview, we’ll talk a bit more about our consumers, actually, sustainable or not. So thanks very much, Selena, and look forward to speaking to you again soon.
[00:08:47 –> 00:09:19] AlinaThank you. 
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