The study, published in the Journal of Advertising, explored the research team's underlying assumption that a unique combination of factors sets organic/green product purchase decisions apart from most other (conventional) purchase decisions in three investigations.
"We propose that organic purchases are not just made with the intention of benefiting one's self," explained lead author Ioannis Kareklas, from Washington State University, USA.
"Our paper provides evidence that advertising that highlights and addresses both personal (egoistic) and environmental (altruistic) concerns in tandem may be the most impactful in influencing consumer attitudes toward and intentions to purchase organic products."
The research team said the results of their first two studies suggest that consumers' organic product purchases may be influenced by both egoistic and altruistic considerations.
A key finding was that consumers are more influenced by altruistic concerns when considering the purchase of green/organic products compared to conventional products, they said.
In a third study, the researchers tested the effectiveness of various advertising treatments promoting a fictitious new brand of organic meat called 'Gold Standard.'
The ads emphasized personal health, nutritional value, taste, cleaner water, humane treatment of livestock, community support and a combination of these egoistic and altruistic claims.
"We found that the ad featuring both egoistic and altruistic appeals produced more favourable attitudes toward the brand and company and greater purchase intentions," said Kareklas.
The team added that their results provide an important theoretical foundation that helps explain why and how specific organic food attitudes and purchase intentions vary among individuals.
"It's important to view consumers' organic food perceptions and buying tendencies in relation to self-concept," explained Kareklas.
"Unlike previous research that often views the two self-views to be mutually exclusive and competing, we find that the goals of the independent and interdependent view of the self are complimentary influences in the context of organic/green purchase considerations."
The team suggest advertisers consider designing messages that relate to personal benefits and environmental benefits in tandem, taking note that synergies may be gained by emphasizing both.
Source: Journal of Advertising
Published online ahead of print, available at SSRN - click here
"'I Eat Organic for My Benefit and Yours': Egoistic and Altruistic Considerations for Purchasing Organic Food and Their Implications for Advertising Strategists"
Authors: Ioannis Kareklas, Jeffrey Carlson, Darrel D. Muehling