The Checkout : Green Issue
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
In honor of Earth Month, this issue of The Checkout looks at Green behavior shifts for consumers, how this affects in-store shopping motives, and ultimately, purchase intent.
Behavioral Economics has a shade of Green.
Shoppers are creatures of habit, basing decisions on what is comfortable and familiar. This habitual behavior is often known in the behavioral economics field as the Status Quo Bias, a cognitive phenomenon where people tend to prefer that things remain the same or that things change as little as possible if they absolutely must be altered. This bias often applies to shoppers as many are adverse to change and the introduction of new behaviors. When it comes to acting Green, daily decisions like keeping unneeded lights off are easy to integrate into an already existing routine, whereas introducing a new behavior like carpooling is a whole new routine. Eating local means buying new products in new ways, and routine shopping trips require more of an effort. To change behavior, the incentive to change must be compelling. This gets back to the idea of tangible benefits. If people can’t see or feel an immediate reward for this new behavior—saving money, time, creating social change, etc.— they’ll opt to stick with what they know or reduce existing behavior over taking on a new task. Enabling shoppers to become change agents means helping them overcome deeper psychological barriers within.