Making Green Stuff? Effects of Corporate Greenwashing on Consumers

Menno D.T. de Jong (Corresponding Author), Karen M. Harkink, Susanne Barth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
462 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The marketing success of green products has spawned the phenomenon of greenwashing, but studies on the effects of greenwashing on consumers are still limited. Using a 4 × 2 randomized experimental design, this study examines such effects by determining whether consumers respond differently to greenwashing, silent brown, vocal green, and silent green organizations selling hedonic products (perfume) or utilitarian products (detergent). The results show that consumers recognized the green claims in the greenwashing condition, which led to an environmental performance impression in between green and brown organizations but also to more negative judgments about the integrity of communication. Regarding purchase interest, greenwashing organizations performed similarly as silent brown organizations, with significantly lower scores than those of vocal green and silent green organizations. No significant effects of product type and no interaction effects were found. Overall, greenwashing has only limited benefits (perceived environmental performance), poses a major threat (perceived integrity), and has no true competitive advantage (purchase interest).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-112
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of business and technical communication
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • greenwashing
  • corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • sustainability
  • environmental communication
  • green marketing

Cite this

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title = "Making Green Stuff?: Effects of Corporate Greenwashing on Consumers",
abstract = "The marketing success of green products has spawned the phenomenon of greenwashing, but studies on the effects of greenwashing on consumers are still limited. Using a 4 × 2 randomized experimental design, this study examines such effects by determining whether consumers respond differently to greenwashing, silent brown, vocal green, and silent green organizations selling hedonic products (perfume) or utilitarian products (detergent). The results show that consumers recognized the green claims in the greenwashing condition, which led to an environmental performance impression in between green and brown organizations but also to more negative judgments about the integrity of communication. Regarding purchase interest, greenwashing organizations performed similarly as silent brown organizations, with significantly lower scores than those of vocal green and silent green organizations. No significant effects of product type and no interaction effects were found. Overall, greenwashing has only limited benefits (perceived environmental performance), poses a major threat (perceived integrity), and has no true competitive advantage (purchase interest).",
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Making Green Stuff? Effects of Corporate Greenwashing on Consumers. / de Jong, Menno D.T. (Corresponding Author); Harkink, Karen M.; Barth, Susanne.

In: Journal of business and technical communication, Vol. 32, No. 1, 01.01.2018, p. 77-112.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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T2 - Effects of Corporate Greenwashing on Consumers

AU - de Jong, Menno D.T.

AU - Harkink, Karen M.

AU - Barth, Susanne

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AB - The marketing success of green products has spawned the phenomenon of greenwashing, but studies on the effects of greenwashing on consumers are still limited. Using a 4 × 2 randomized experimental design, this study examines such effects by determining whether consumers respond differently to greenwashing, silent brown, vocal green, and silent green organizations selling hedonic products (perfume) or utilitarian products (detergent). The results show that consumers recognized the green claims in the greenwashing condition, which led to an environmental performance impression in between green and brown organizations but also to more negative judgments about the integrity of communication. Regarding purchase interest, greenwashing organizations performed similarly as silent brown organizations, with significantly lower scores than those of vocal green and silent green organizations. No significant effects of product type and no interaction effects were found. Overall, greenwashing has only limited benefits (perceived environmental performance), poses a major threat (perceived integrity), and has no true competitive advantage (purchase interest).

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