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When do consumers buy sustainable products?

The European Commission wants to promote sustainable consumer behaviour


Environmental issues pose some of the greatest challenges to our society today.  While people are becoming increasingly aware of these issues, there has been a rather limited impact on purchasing behaviour. That is why the European Commission wants to create a unified market of green products by 2020 with the intention of motivating the consumer to make environmentally conscious choices. To achieve this, they first have to gain insight into the triggers which could encourage consumers to adopt more ecological purchasing behaviour, both in terms of information as well as communication.


According to WHY5Research, the main challenge was to make the cold and/or abstract scientific arguments more human and tangible. Together with some key partners, we chose to organise a workshop with experts. The goal was to search for triggers which could encourage more ecological consumer behaviour as well as define the preconditions for communication about this topic. The insights were then specifically applied to certain product categories (nappies, milk and detergent) in order to make them more concrete and tangible.


During the workshop, it soon became clear that consumers had to be supported more in their need for information. Communication should start with people themselves. They should be able to recognise and acknowledge their own needs. An ecological nappy, for example, should still primarily focus on the well-being of the child. Once these fundamental criteria are respected, consumers are more receptive to an ecological message. It is also essential to communicate in a very clear way about the concrete environmental impact of people’s choices. As a result, everyone can know that they are not only contributing to a sustainable environment, but they can also know how they are doing this.

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