Buy Green, Feel Good: Shoppers Enjoy A ‘Warm Glow’ After Buying Eco-Friendly Products

MONTREAL — Everybody spends a bit more money over the holidays, but often times those spending sprees lead to feelings of guilt, irresponsibility, and worry afterwards. So, if you’re looking for a way to feel better about your shopping this year, a new study has a suggestion: go green.

Dubbed the “greenconsumption effect,” researchers from Concordia University in Montreal say consumers typically feel much better about spending their money on green products. This euphoric feeling while using ecologically friendly products is described as a “warm glow” by the study’s authors.

“The warm glow is a good overall feeling,” explains professor of marketing and study co-author Onur Bodur in a release. “It is found in other literature relating to pro-social behavior. You get the feeling when you help others and have a sense of accomplishment that gives you satisfaction.”

Furthermore, the research team believe retailers and businesses of all kinds would be wise to take note of the greenconsumption effect as they attempt to adapt to an ever changing economy.

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The researchers conducted five experiments using numerous different products, in order to test what caused participants to experience a warm glow while shopping. More specifically, they were interested in seeing how green products influenced product enjoyment, perceived quality, and the buyer’s feelings of social worth.

Overall, they found that green products generally put consumers in a good mood and positive mind frame. For instance, participants who listened to music on headphones described as environmentally friendly actually said they enjoyed the music more than participants who used more traditional headphones. Participants also said they would be more likely to purchase the green headphones.

Also, after using certain green products, participants were able to get over their pre-conceived notions about the goods. According to the study, the belief has persisted for years that eco-friendly dish and laundry detergents are less effective than more conventional cleaning supplies. But, after participants used the environmentally-conscious cleaning liquids, they no longer held such a belief.

Furthermore, after using green products participants said they felt a higher sense of self-worth and social inclusion. So, after using these products, people who typically feel isolated from their communities said they felt more welcome and included.

There were caveats, however, such as the observation that consumers didn’t usually experience the warm glow if they felt the environmental impact of the green product they were using was minimal. This occurred when participants used a pen with eco-friendly ink.

Besides just offering more green products for purchase, Bodur says retailers should also consider decking their stores out in environmentally-friendly furniture and decorations for a fully immersive experience.

“Imagine that the chair you are sitting on is certified bamboo, or the tablecloth at a restaurant is made of recycled materials and the utensils are made of wood,” he adds. “You can opt to use sustainable, green products that are more likely to improve your customer’s experience.”

Bodur also warns businesses to ensure they are telling the truth in reference to all environmental claims they may make about their products.

“I believe consumers are becoming a lot more conscious of green attributes, despite all the confusion with regard to certifications of sustainability,” Bodur concludes. “The risk will only be eliminated when there is some sort of regulation or standardization of certification.”

The study is published in The Journal of Consumer Research.

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