Brands & Eco-labels: Understanding Consumer Behavior and Perceived Brand Value of Eco-labels

Camilla Damkær Rønn & Victoria Langhans Bennetsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This project identifies the segment of Sustainably Conscious Consumers. The segment is defined as “Consumers whose buying behavior is characterized by a conscious choice to consume and buy products, that they view as being more healthy, environmentally and socially sustainable, than alternatives”. The project studies how the Sustainably Conscious Consumer segment’s buying behavior is affected by ecolabels, and the segment’s perception of eco-labels’ brand value. The buying behavior of the segment is studied based on a proposed consumer behavior model, adapted from the frameworks from Ajzen (1991), Shaw et al. (2000) and Moisander (2007). The model is composed to best understand the Sustainably Conscious Consumers behavior. We gathered data from four in-depth interviews, which served as case studies in the consumer behavior model. By assessing the behavior of the consumers with the proposed model, we find that the four cases all fit into the segment of the Sustainably Conscious Consumer. Based on this finding, we further identified that the segment’s behavior is affected by a strong interest in sustainability issues, which leads to an overt motivation to behave sustainably. Their intention of staying true to their own ethical obligations and self-identities also affect their buying behavior. Furthermore, due to their motivation and intention, their perceived behavioral control influences their ability, which affects the segment to engage in a sustainably conscious behavior. The brand value of eco-labels is analyzed with the framework of the Customer Mindset from the Brand Value Chain (Keller & Lehmann, 2003). The dimensions of the Customer Mindset are studied within the four cases, and assesses if they perceive eco-labels to have brand value, and how this brand value is created. We find that the segment attach a great deal of brand value to eco-labels, as they extensively use them in their shopping behavior. The segment’s perceived brand value of eco-labels is due to the following aspects: The segment use eco-labels as guiding points when shopping; eco-labels help provide information about sustainable justification of products; eco-labels can be seen as a quality stamp to identify preferred products; and lastly, eco-labels are found to have a symbolic value for the Sustainably Conscious Consumers. This research concludes that the Sustainably Conscious Consumer segment’s buying behavior is positively affected by eco-labels, due to the perceived brand value of the eco-labels. Therefore, the perceived brand value of eco-labels assists the segment in their buying behavior.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages188
SupervisorsTrine Pallesen