The interest of different generations of Czech consumers in certified products and environmental organizations

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The interest of different generations of Czech consumers in certified products and environmental organizations

Green consumers’ behavior is still the black box for green marketing. The environmental aspect influences many purchase decisions. How do Czech consumer really think in relation to environmental questions? This paper aims to describe some of the fundamental green activities of the Czech consumer in correlation to their age, gender, education and size of hometown. The knowledge of certified products, the interest to buy them and the knowledge of environmental organizations; the factors have all been considered as the most important factors driving consumers to be “green”. Based on the results, the segment of green Czech consumers was predefined. The description of generations (silent generation, Baby Boomers, generation X, Y, Z) was followed in order to understand the influence of age and other demographics on environmental behavior.

Introduction

Green marketing and environmental sustainability became a key factor in both theoretical and practical solutions for the design, production and communication of new products (Dangelico 2017). Environmental sustainability is defined by Kotler and Armstrong (2016, p. 637) as “a management approach that involves developing strategies that both sustain the environment and produce profits for the company”. In the field of green marketing and its development a trend has been witnessed in the rising number of scientific papers focused on such topics with its peak in the 1990’s (Chamorro et al. 2009, Kumar et al. 2013). The same rise in interest of green solutions and sustainability was expected to influence decision-making processes of leading companies, keeping a competitive advantage in their industry (Straughan and Roberts 1999). After 2001, a deterioration in the number of such articles and scientific papers was seen, but according to Dangelico (2017) there was an increase again in green marketing research papers between the years between 2008 and 2012, which was a reaction to the overall consumption trend amongst people preferring green products. This evolution of consumption trends in previous decades led to a continuous search for the definition of a new segment named green and/or ecologic consumers (Do Paco and Raposo 2009).

Among others, De Paco and Rapaso (2008) depictured green consumer attitudes as following expressions:
1. I make a special effort to buy green products.
2. I support financially environmentally active groups.
3. I know the meaning of global warming.
4. I am afraid of air pollution and ozone hole.
5. Sorting waste for recycling.

The basic factors of market segmentation are insufficient or invalid from the point of view of researchers (Straughan and Roberts 1999). On the basis of preexisting research papers and all the gathered information sources about segmentation and green consumption, Dangelico (2017) confirmed the inconsistency in results of those papers and highlighted the different relations of variables included in these attempts to define the „green“ segment and its environmentally conscious consumers. As noted by the author, Modi and Patel (2013) found behavioral criterion more suitable for their research than psychographic or demographic. As another example, Straughan and Roberts (1999) found psychographic criteria to be more valid in comparison with demographic indicators.
Even Burke et al. (2014) used motivation for either accepting or refusing green products as the main criterion during research. As noted by Dangelico (2017), there even exists different views on the topic of segmentation and the definition of the green consumer. Ottman (2011) support the perspective of willingness to support environmental protection, or even the personal interests of consumers (health, environment, animals) and the needs of people. In opposition, Peattie (2010) stressed that attempts to define the green consumer, and so the overall segmentation, cannot lead to the same result as long as the consumer is seen as a separate person. It is clear that any consumer is affected by his/her integration into family, household and/or community.
According to Ottman (2011), companies may lose their credibility by launching products and services that are not so “green”, which can also be the reason why people do not have trust in green products. According to Charter et al. (2002), such products should satisfy needs while not being harmful to health and should have a “green” life cycle. Eco-labeling is a way to promote such products and to help people to recognize such green products (D’Souza et al. 2006). These aspects were taken into consideration while preparing the research on green consumers in the Czech Republic.
The segmentation of Czech consumers followed by the authors of this study is based on the knowledge of certified products and the willingness to buy them. For green behavior it is very important to have knowledge of environmental organizations, the secondary focus of this study. The segmentation is based on characteristics such as – gender, education, generation and the size of the consumer’s hometown. These characteristics were monitored and discovered the segment of the Czech green consumer.

Segmentation of green consumers based on generations

This paper presents the results of research focused on the green behavior of the Czech consumers. It is possible to identify fundamental differences between green behavior across generations. To develop this idea, it is necessary to define generations. Usually, both demographic and sociological aspects may be used (Sak 2010). For the context of the other characteristics utilized in this paper, the authors focused only on age as a variable to define generations in the Czech Republic and used the age definition as seen in Table 1.

Table 1: Generation definitions
Source: authors, inspired by Flodrová and Šilerová (2011)

The first defined generation is the silent generation, people who were born and lived in pre-war and war times. According to Flodrová and Šilerová (2011), the generation of Baby Boomers is defined as formed in post-war times and was also influenced by the 1968 political and social changes caused by Soviet hegemony. Generally, not speaking only within the boundaries of the Czech Republic, generation of this post-war times is called Baby Boomers according to a higher birthrate throughout those years. Baby Boomers are willing to work even longer than necessary in order to keep financial stability, and to keep their job with the possibility of promotion (Horváthová, Bláha and Čopíková 2016). Compared to the younger generation X, Baby Boomers suffered much more from the post-war stress, yet enjoyed economic prosperity as well as generation X (Srinivasan 2011). Generation X supports liberalism and environmentalism, still finding a balance between work and leisure (Chen and Choi 2008). This generation values the family and education first and the success is their goal, being experienced with high divorce rate of parents (Williams et al. 2010). Generation Y is described as Millennials. They witnessed a globalization process including new technologies, foreign investments and outsourcing. Being influenced by social networking are perceived to be more economically secure (Srinivasan 2011). The youngest generation so far, generation Z, is now thought to be much more individualistic and aware of the consequences of their activities (Williams et al. 2010). They think about the quality of products and believe they can impact the world (Williams and Page 2011). Sometimes the negative effect of self-confidence leads to arrogance. The generation can also have a problem with personal meetings (Smolka 2019).
Do Paco and Raposo (2009) mentioned that research papers show different results in the correlation between age and environmental behavior/attitudes. Kinnear, Taylor and Ahmed (1974) found no significant correlation in their research paper focused on buyers concern for ecology and purchasing behavior, but highlighted personality variables to be significant rather than age. Zimmer and Stafford (1994) found a significant and negative correlation. Roberts (1996) found a significant and positive correlation, showing that middle age is the peak of social and environmental responsibility and people tend to donate money as a part of activism. But all the other demographic criterions could have an impact on green behavior, represented by Mainieri et al. (1997) to show the difference between men and women (women tend to be more pro-environmental in their behavior). This research showed that women tend to buy more of green products and to recycle more than men, but participation in green activities or environmentalist groups was not significantly influenced by gender.
Granzin and Olsen (1991) or Roberts (1996) to show the positive correlation of education and pro-environmental behavior, the latter research to mention that when attitudinal variables are included, the education is not significant anymore. However, different studies with these same variables were not consistent in terms of resulting correlations (Do Paco and Raposo 2009).
This paper aims to reveal the truth about the attitude of different Czech consumers across generations (silent generation, Baby Boomers, generation X, Y and Z) to certified products and environmental organizations as the authors assume that the knowledge of those is important precondition for green behavior. According to different studies discussed in above paragraphs, age is one of the major variables we focused on together with gender, education and the size of the consumers’ hometown, which refill the characteristics of green Czech consumers.

Methodology

In order to study the green behavior of Czech consumers, an online survey was utilized. It was conducted via the internet at the beginning of June 2018 through Trendaro, which is an application operated by a professional survey company called Behavio Labs, s. r. o. A total of 1,000 respondents were chosen so that a representative sample of the Czech population was obtained (i.e. the proportion of women and men in the sample is the same as the proportion of women and men in the Czech population; and the same is true for other socio-demographic characteristics that were observed. Besides gender these were age, education and the size of respondents’ hometown).

The segment of Czech green consumers

Researchers were interested in four specific questions included in the questionnaire – knowledge of ecological and/or environmental certification logos, purchase of certified products, knowledge of ecological organizations, as well as involvement in ecological activism. The authors examined whether the answers of respondents differed depending on their gender, educational level (Basic, High school without or with graduation, University degree), age (we considered 5 generations, as specified above), and the size of respondents’ hometown (less than 2000, between 2000-10000, between 10000 and 50000, above 50000).
Firstly, the respondents’ knowledge of certifications was tested. Respondents were presented with the logos of six certifications, namely:

Figure 1: Logos of six certifications
Source: certification authorities

The most recognized logo was bio with over 44% of respondents stating they recognize it. Other well-known logos belonged to Fairtrade (40%) and energy star (39%).

Considering the gender of respondents, there is a significant difference in answers between men and women for three certifications, specifically bio and ecolabel are better known for women more than for men, energy star, on the other hand, was recognized by significantly more men than women. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests to confirm causality) are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2: Influence of gender on recognition of certificates
Source: authors

As for educational level, there is a significant difference in the answers of respondents for all certifications with the only exception of ecolabel. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 3 and Graph 1. It may not be a surprise that people with a lower education level (Basic and High school without graduation) have a lower awareness of certifications (their percentages are always below the overall average), and people with a university degree were able to recognize the presented logos with the highest percentage rate for all six certifications.

Table 3: Influence of education on recognition of certificates
Source: authors*

*Note: The two lowest education levels had to be pooled in order to satisfy the conditions for using a chi-squared test to obtain the p-value for ecolabel.

Graph 1: Influence of education on recognition of certificates
Source: authors

Similarly, in terms of age, there is a significant difference in the answers of respondents for all certifications with only the exception of ecolabel. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 4 and Graph 2. The two oldest age generations, silent generation and Baby Boomers (born between 1928 and 1963) have the lowest knowledge of certifications (their percentages are below the overall average with the only exception of ecolabel), on the other hand, generation Y (people born between 1976 and 1995) has the highest percentages for almost all certifications (with the exception of rainforest and ecolabel).

Table 4: Influence of age on recognition of certificates
Source: authors*

*Note: The two oldest and the two youngest generations had to be pooled in order to satisfy the conditions for using a chi-squared test to obtain the p-value for ecolabel.

Graph 2: Influence of age on recognition of certificates
Source: authors

The size of the respondents’ hometown turns out to have a significant influence for three certifications, namely bio, energy star and Fairtrade. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 5. Generally, people from small towns (less than 10 thousand) have a lower knowledge of certifications than people from larger towns (above 10 thousand), as percentages in the first two rows of Table 5 are below the overall average for all 6 certifications, and percentages in the third and fourth row of Table 5 are above the overall average for all 6 certifications.

Table 5: Influence of the size of hometown on the recognition of certificates
Source: authors

The second question asked whether the respondents intentionally buy certified products, that is products with the above mentioned six certifications. From the given options, the most bought certified products belonged to the category of bio (19%), Fairtrade (17%) and energy star (14%).
Considering the gender of respondents, there is a significant difference in answers between men and women for three certifications, specifically bio and Fairtrade products are bought more often by women than men, energy star products, on the other hand, are bought significantly more by men than women. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 6.

Table 6: Influence of gender on purchase of certified products
Source: authors

As for education level, there is a significant difference in the answers of respondents for all certifications with only the exception of energy star. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 7 and Graph 3. As was the case for knowledge of certifications, people with lower education level (Basic and High school without graduation) intentionally buy certified products less often than people with a university degree (percentages in the first two rows of Table 7 are always below the overall average, and percentages in the fourth row of Table 7 are above the overall average for all six certifications).

Table 7: Influence of education on purchase of certified products
Source: authors*

*Note: The two lowest education levels had to be pooled in order to satisfy the conditions for using a chi-squared test to obtain the p-values for rainforest, fsc and ecolabel.

Graph 3: Influence of education on purchase of certified products
Source: authors

Considering age, there is a significant difference in the answers of respondents for three certifications, namely Fairtrade, rainforest and fsc. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 8 and Graph 4. For the three above mentioned certificates, the two oldest age generations, silent generation and Baby Boomers (born between 1928 and 1963) have the lowest percentages of purchasing certified products. On the other hand, the percentage is always the highest for generation Y (people born between 1976 and 1995).

Table 8: Influence of age on the purchase of certified products
Source: authors

*Note: The two oldest and the two youngest generations had to be pooled in order to satisfy the conditions for using a chi-squared test to obtain the p-values for rainforest, fsc and ecolabel.

Graph 4: Influence of age on the purchase of certified products
Source: authors

The size of respondents’ hometown does not have a significant influence on respondents’ answers (p-values of corresponding chi-squared tests are bigger than 0.05, with only the exception of energy star products which are often bought more by people from bigger towns).
In the third question, the respondents’ knowledge of environmental organizations was tested. Respondents were presented with the logos of six organizations, namely:

Figure 2: Logos of six environmental organizations
Source: environmental organizations

The most well-known organization from these six was Greenpeace with over 85% of respondents answering that they know it. Other well-known organizations are Děti země (72%) and Duha (66%).
As for gender, significantly more men know these organizations than women, with the only exception being – Český svaz (for which the difference is not significant). The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 9.

Table 9: Influence of gender on knowledge of environmental organizations
Source: authors

Educational level is also a significant factor for the answer for all organizations. Again, people with lower education (Basic and High school without graduation) know these organizations less often than people with higher education (University degree). The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 10 and Graph 5.

Table 10: Influence of education on the knowledge of environmental organizations
Source: authors

Graph 5: Influence of education on the knowledge of environmental organizations
Source: authors

Similarly, there are significant differences in the knowledge of all six considered organizations depending on the age of respondents. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 11 and Graph 6. Generation X (people born between 1964 and 1975) have the best knowledge of four organizations (Děti země, Greenpeace, Duha and Brontosaurus), whereas Baby Boomers (born between 1964 and 1975) have the best knowledge of Arnika and Český svaz. On the other hand, the worst knowledge of all six organizations can be seen in the youngest generation (born between 1996 and 2000).

Table 11: Influence of age on the knowledge of environmental organizations
Source: authors

Graph 6: Influence of age on the knowledge of environmental organizations
Source: authors

Knowledge of three organizations (Arnika, Děti země and Duha) is significantly influenced by the size of respondents’ hometown. The results (including p-values of the corresponding chi-squared tests) are summarized in Table 12. Generally, people from small towns (less than 10 thousand) have lower knowledge of those three environmental organizations than people from bigger towns (above 10 thousand).

Table 12: Influence of the size of hometown on the knowledge of environmental organizations
Source: authors

The results of our research showed that predefined consumer demographics play important role in potential market segmentation for the green products; as knowledge of certified products and environmental organizations help consumers not only understand the environmental problems but behave responsibly in that way. We, as team of authors, perceive that these two aspects are just a basis for future research of softer factors of human behavior.

Conclusions

The Czech consumers are inclined to behave ecologically. But there are fundamental differences between consumers in diverse gender, age, education and size of hometown. This paper is focused on the differences in the knowledge of certified products, the inclination to buy them and the knowledge of environmental organizations. These aspects were observed in connection to sociodemographic details.
The knowledge of certified products is related to age. The two oldest generations have a poor knowledge of the logos of certified products. The logo can influence the generation Y. This generation is inclined to buy certified products rather than silent generation or generation Z. The difference based on age is proven in the knowledge of environmental organizations. The silent generation and Baby Boomers know less environmental organizations than generation Y. Generation Z is not interested in these aspects and activities. It is not related to their keen interest in environmental protection. They follow environmental protectors on Social Media, share videos with the environmental aspects. But their own activity is limited.
The segmentation can be based on other criteria. The major criterion is gender, education and the size of hometown. It is possible to proclaim women know the bio or ecolabel logos and are motivated to buy them. Men know the logo of energy star, buy these products more often and know environmental organizations more than women.
Education and the size of hometown influence the knowledge of logos, buying certified products and knowledge of environmental organizations.
The more educated and their hometown having a higher population the respondent is, the better knowledge of logos and environmental organizations has.
The motivation to buy certified products is related on higher education and larger town. The results show the interesting green segment. The generation Y with higher education and from bigger hometown. Marketers promoting ecolabel-products can influence women rather than men, who are motivated to buy products with the label of energy star.
The paper presents some of the major aspects of green behavior – knowledge of certified products and the motivation to buy them and the knowledge of environmental organizations. Previous paper (Jaderná, et al., 2018) was focused on recycling, packaging and consumption of water and energy. Research pointed out dissatisfaction of the generation Z with condition of environment protection on one hand, but still a mistrust to green activities of companies on the other hand as well as the unwillingness to pay higher price for green products. It correlates with the research results of Vokounová (2019), that young people (aged 21 to 24) are price sensitive when buying products, preferring lower prices. Research paper written by Vokounová and Kopaničová (2015) pointed out the inability of generation Y to distinguish ecological products and the mistrust in label information as well. According to Apková et al. (2016), amongst the generation Y, 75% of respondents perceive the environment protection as an important topic, only 30% would be described as green consumers by the authors and only 8% buy green products.
The results of our current and previous researches showed that companies should be very careful in communications with different groups of consumers. Customers´ knowledge of ecological/green products is high or high enough but a probability of green behavior is still lower. Proper segmentation based on generations (as described in our research paper) could help to move consumers from awareness and knowledge to desire and to act, finally.
As green behavior is very complex part of human behavior, we decided to follow this topic in our future research to be able to unveil more factors influencing green consumer behavior in the Czech Republic.

Poznámky/Notes

This paper is one of the outcomes of the research grant SGS/2019/01 Jaderná, Department of Marketing and Management at SKODA AUTO University.

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Kľúčové slová/Key Words

certified products, environmental, green consumer, green marketing, segment, segmentation
certifikované produkty, environmentální, zelený spotřebitel, zelený marketing, segment, segmentace

JEL klasifikácia/JEL Classification

L62, M11, M31

Résumé

Zájem různých generací českých spotřebitelů o certifikované produkty a environmentální organizace

Zelené chování spotřebitele je stále černou skříňkou v rámci zeleného marketingu. Environmentální aspekty ovlivňují mnohá rozhodnutí o koupi. Jaký je skutečně český spotřebitel v environmentálních otázkách? Článek přináší popis některých důležitých zelených aktivit českých spotřebitelů v korelaci s jejich pohlavím, věkem, vzděláním a velikostí města, ze kterého pochází. Byla sledována znalost certifikovaných produktů, zájem o jejich koupi a v neposlední řadě také znalost organizací ochrany životního prostředí. Na základě výsledů byl předefinován zelený český spotřebitel. Popis generací sloužil k přesnějšímu pochopení vlivu věku a dalších demografických proměnných na environmentální chování.

Kontakt na autorov/Address

Ing. Eva Jaderná, Ph.D. ŠKODA AUTO Vysoká škola o.p.s., Katedra marketingu a managementu, Na Karmeli 1457, 293 01 Mladá Boleslav, Česká republika, e-mail: [email protected]

Mgr. Radka Picková, Ph.D. ŠKODA AUTO Vysoká škola o.p.s., Katedra informatiky a kvantitativních metod, Na Karmeli 1457, 293 01 Mladá Boleslav, Česká republika, e-mail:
[email protected]

Doc. Ing. Jana Přikrylová, PhD. ŠKODA AUTO Vysoká škola o.p.s., Katedra marketingu a managementu, Na Karmeli 1457, 293 01 Mladá Boleslav, Česká republika, e-mail: [email protected]cz

Bc. Michal Hrubý, ŠKODA AUTO Vysoká škola o.p.s., Katedra marketingu a managementu, Na Karmeli 1457, 293 01 Mladá Boleslav, Česká republika, e-mail: [email protected]

Recenzované/Reviewed

13. November 2019 / 19. November 2019