An Empirical Study of Danish Consumers’ Willingness to Buy Sustainable Food Products

Kamilla Vennevold & Christina Gildsig Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

As the world is changing which causes climate change, humans consuming more, negative environmental impacts and the fact that the world population continues to grow place a need for actions to be taken. The increasing demand for energy, water, food etc. is pushing the earth towards its environmental limits. This is why Unilever has launched their CSR strategy, Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. By this, Unilever has an ambition to grow the business and double their size while reducing their environmental footprint and at the same time increase their positive social impact. Also, political pressures are pushing for more sustainable business innovations and in line with this, the market place is also asking for more sustainable products even though reality is also showing that most Danish consumers are not willing to pay more when it comes to environmentally and socially friendly products. The aim of this master thesis is to investigate and understand the drivers behind Danish consumers’ willingness to buy sustainable food products. As CSR is an organisational perspective more than a customer perspective, CSR is not sufficient in explaining the drivers behind buying sustainable products. Applying the information processing perspective enables the authors to integrate the consumer perspective using the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) as framework. The literature states that trust is an important factor influencing consumer behaviour, and the fact that sustainability is not easy for the consumers to verify, calls for an expansion of the TRA to include trust. Additionally, personal values, found in previous literature, such as ealth motivation, quality consciousness, egoistic value orientation, price consciousness, biospheric values as well as altruism, is added the model as these might affect the attitude towards the willingness to buy sustainable food products. The findings show that both quality consciousness and biospheric values have a positive significant effect on attitude whereas the rest of the personal values did not show any significant effects. Moreover, trust shows a positive significant effect on attitude whereas social norms show a positive significant effect on the willingness to buy sustainable food products. The findings also show that trust acts as a moderating positive effect on the relationship between quality consciousness and attitude as well as a negative moderating effect on the relationship between altruism and attitude. Furthermore, trust acts as a moderating positive effect on the relationship between attitude and willingness to buy. The authors find that Unilever is stuck in the middle with quality on one side and price on the other. Additionally, based on the findings, Unilever is recommended to focus more on trust in their external communication.

EducationsMSc in Economics and Marketing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2016
Number of pages116
SupervisorsTorben Hansen