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Consumers less negative if green products fail

by Rachel Symonds
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New research has revealed that consumers react less negatively to the failure of green products than conventional products.

The study, from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School (UCD Smurfit School), HEC Montréal, and Ted Rogers School of Management, involved an empirical field analysis and eight controlled experiments. Dr Anshu Suri, UCD Garfield Weston Assistant Professor of Marketing at UCD Smurfit School, alongside Dr Ali Tezer and Dr Matthew Philp, investigated what happens when these products fail or don’t live up to expectations. This included analysing consumer ratings on Amazon.com, consumer willingness to write negative reviews, and consumer preference for refunds over replacements, among other measures.

The findings show that consumers want to help others avoid a bad experience while also supporting environmentally-friendly products. This conflict leads to consumers reacting less negatively to the failure of green products than conventional ones, which researchers refer to as the ‘Greenguard Effect’.

Dr Suri commented: “Consumers don’t overlook shortcomings of green products, but they are more forgiving, perceiving their restraint from negative feedback as a form of support for the environment. By not reacting negatively to green product failures, consumers believe they are being more prosocial, as negative reaction may harm the success of a product that benefits the environment and society.”

This research suggests incorporating environmentally-friendly attributes into product design can mitigate negative consumer reactions to potential product failure.

The findings were published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.

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