Current Issue Summary
Sept 2020 (Vol. 60, Issue 3):
Managerial-Consumer Eco-Harmful Media Perceptions and Eco-Conscious Attitudes: Understanding the Context within Green Media
Consumers’ concern for the environment is increasing, along with their knowledge and skills related to buying eco-friendly products. So, advertisers must make decisions on both messaging and media channels that convey their message, without offending their audience. This study highlights the importance of a medium’s broader impact on advertising effectiveness. It draws from earlier research that demonstrates that a “medium’s perceived eco-harmful impact affects communication effectiveness because a medium itself can act as a constituent of the message.” Authors Claudia A. Rademaker (Stockholm University), Marla Royne Stafford (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and Mikael Andéhn (Royal Holloway, University of London) conducted their study in Sweden, where eco-conscious attitudes among consumers is high, and Swedish consumers are prone to avoid advertising.
Their research explored “managers’ estimates of consumer eco-harmful perceptions of 10 paper- and electronic-based media.” They found that “managers tend to mis-estimate consumers’ eco-harmful media perceptions; these estimates are driven by managers’ eco-conscious attitudes” – and often their own, gut feeling about consumer attitudes. Rademaker et al. also explored other types of media perceptions and consumer responses to advertising. They investigated “goodness,” “irritation,” and “trustworthiness” — three factors commonly studied in the context of attitudes toward different media channels overall. “These factors have not been explored in terms of their relationship specific to eco-harmful media perceptions … and the existence of such a relationship can help managers in their media-selection process,” the authors write.
The upshot: “Advertising on more eco-harmful media is associated with irritating characteristics. Advertising on less eco-harmful media is associated with good and trustworthy characteristics.”
Among their findings:
- Consumers perceived advertising via the following media to be “more harmful for the environment compared with what the marketing managers had estimated”: newspapers and magazines, mobile phones, outdoor posters, radio, television, cinema and the Internet.
- Advertising via direct mail, catalogues, brochures and in-store posters were perceived by consumers to be less harmful than what managers had expected.
- Marketing managers and consumers “have different levels of eco-conscious attitudes. These differences may explain the existing incongruent views.”
- That misalignment can result in a “potentially negative environmental reputation for the company. Hence, a media manager must select certain less-eco-harmful media for certain messages.”
- “Using a range of media with varying levels of eco-harmfulness—along with the appropriate blend of good, non-irritating, and trustworthy media—may help mitigate this problem.”