The Green Evolution: How Does Activation of IIrrational Protection Motives Influence Green Consumption?

Giulia Invernizzi

Student thesis: Master thesis


As the challenges related to climate change and global warming become clearer, the need has arisen for companies not only to adapt their products to the green trend, but also to convince consumers to transform their environmental awareness into a set of green purchase choices. To do so, marketers could benefit from over a decade of research on green behavior drivers. However, consumer behavior scholars have focused on the rational drivers of green consumption behavior, leaving behind the irrational factors that may drive green consumers towards green products. The objective of this thesis is to fill this research gap and explore the irrational drivers of green consumption. In this paper, it is claimed that irrational motives related to the evolutionary challenges that our ancestors had to solve to survive, can influence the behavior of modern consumers. In particular, it was posited that activating self-protection or familyprotection cues in consumers may lead people to choose greener products. A quantitative research was realized through sampling 170 respondents, activating a self-protection, family protection motive or assigning them to a control condition. The respondents were asked about intention to purchase green products, perception of green product effectiveness and extent to which consumers like sustainability characteristics in a product. The collected data helped to test the generated hypothesis by using statistical analysis techniques. An analysis of variance was conducted to test differences in means among the three conditions, and a post-hoc analysis revealed which pairs of means significantly differed. The results revealed that the appeal of product green characteristics is influenced by the activation of self-protection and family-protection motives. Moreover, self-protection motives were found to be a way to influence perception of green product effectiveness. These results show that irrational motives are valuable to companies and prompt a rethink for marketing management to consider new approaches to advertising and exposition of green products by activating motives of family protection or selfprotection.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages87
SupervisorsAd de Jong