Does Green?

Gary Bamossy, Georgetown University, USA
Basil Englis, Berry College, USA
Does Green? (18min:40sec) In recent years the American market place has seen the re-emergence of a vigorous public discourse around the issues of what are variously called “Environmentalism,” “Global Warming”, “Sustainable Consumption”, “The Environment”, or in its simplest and most generic term, “Green”. National surveys regarding U.S. consumers’ awareness regarding “things green” consistently report that over 80% of the American population is aware of Green issues (Mintel, 2008; American Environics, 2008; Makower, 2009; Englis and Bamossy, 2009). Levels of consistent commitment in terms of actual green behaviors, however, do vary greatly across segments of American consumers, with lifestyle variables tending to be better predictors of green behavior than demographic variables (Makower, 2009; American Environics, 2008; Englis and Bamossy, 2009). In short, American consumers know about Green, but do not always act on that knowledge. Given the tremendous Green push from both the public and private sectors, along with the never ending coverage of Things Green from the media, it seems reasonable to predict that while forms of the Green discourse are likely to change over time, they are not likely to wane. One of the recurring perspectives that characterizes Green and sustainability research from both the academic and commercial research sectors is to begin with descriptive statistics that are meant to shock us by describing our (potentially disastrous) consumption and disposition behaviors, and then use these research findings as a basis for developing communication strategies which are meant to motivate consumers to become more involved. The orientation of the research is to make action seem perfectly rational, in fact so rational, it can NOT be resisted. The inner logic of the argument assumes that once people understand what is happening to the environment, they will act in positive, constructive ways. The assumption is that once people process this information, their best alternative will be Green action. “Any sane person will adjust their consumption lifestyle once they learn this,” seems to be the rationale underlying Green strategies of persuasion. The video, “Does Green?” critiques this logic in a very subtle way, and suggests that this approach is not working. “Does Green?” points the viewer in a number of theoretical directions that may lead to new ideas of how to combine green awareness with green action. Capturing consumers’ reactions to products as diverse as hybrid cars, light bulbs, and tote bags, this video explores the gaps between consumers’ attitudes and behaviors, and sheds light on the strong connections between our sense of Green coupled with fashion, and Green coupled with self representation. Currently, the role of cultural discourse and social change around Green is often seen as a countervailing discourse. We need a new paradigm to frame our thinking about how to motivate acts of green and sustainable consumption, and the intent of this video is to help get this dialogue started. References: “Green Living—U.S.—2008” MINTeL Report, accessed from the Lauringer Library, Georgetown University, August, 2008. “Roadmap for a Progressive Majority”, American Environics, November, 2008, accessed at: http://www.americanenvironics.com/PDF/UpdatetoRoadmap2008.pdf Englis, Basil, and Gary J. Bamossy, (2009) “Courting America’s Greens: Addressing the Gaps Between Green Attitudes and Green Behaviors”, working paper, available from first author. Makower, Joel, (2009) Strategies for the Green Economy, 2009, McGraw Hill, New York.
[ to cite ]:
Gary Bamossy and Basil Englis (2010) ,"Does Green?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 735-735 .