Barbara Bickart Explores Eco-Seals’ Impact on Consumers

in Emerging Research, Faculty in the News, Marketing, News
December 19th, 2012

New Study Uncovers Green Eco-Seals’ Opposing Impact on Different Consumer Types

Researchers Barbara Bickart and Julie Ruth have completed a study filling a crucial gap in advertisers’ knowledge about the efficacy of green marketing techniques such as eco-seals, showing that they have a distinctly different impact—and in fact sometimes opposing effects—on different types of consumers.

Bickart and Ruth are associate professors in marketing at Boston University School of Management and Rutgers University, respectively. Their new study, “Green Eco-seals and Advertising Persuasion,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Advertising‘s special issue on green advertising.

Bickart and Ruth focus on the differing persuasiveness of eco-seals for consumers with high versus low concern about environmental issues, as well as with high versus low familiarity with a brand. They also offer insight into how these different consumers react depending on an eco-seal’s source and the type of specific messaging it provides.

Among their findings:

  • When consumers have a low-level of environmental concern, the presence or absence of an eco-seal on a package has limited impact on purchase intentions, regardless of familiarity with the brand, although;
  • When consumers have a low-level of environmental concern, the absence of a seal leads them to evaluate the familiar brand more favorably than the unfamiliar brand.
  • When a consumer has a high-level of environmental concern, eco-seals in general generate more favorable purchase intentions for familiar brands, although eco-seals with an ambiguous source generate less favorable purchase intentions for unfamiliar brands, and perhaps most surprising;
  • High-concern consumers are more likely to respond favorably to eco-seals generated by the manufacturer, as opposed to an independent source such as the government, suggesting that familiar-brand seals boost these consumers’ beliefs about a company’s concern for the environment.

As a whole, the study data points to numerous specific strategies for marketers and  policy makers about the most effective use of eco-seals and message strategies for various easily-identifiable target audiences.

See a recent profile of this research at the Wall Street Journal blog, “Corporate Intelligence.”

Banner photo courtesy of flickr user Pylon757.