Cultural Differences in Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviours of Canadian Consumers

By Michel Laroche; Marc-Alexandre Tomiuk; Jasmin Bergeron; Guido Barbaro-Forleo | Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Cultural Differences in Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviours of Canadian Consumers


Michel Laroche; Marc-Alexandre Tomiuk; Jasmin Bergeron; Guido Barbaro-Forleo, Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences


Abstract

The past few decades have been undoubtedly characterized by rapid globalization and increased concerns about environmental problems. This research investigates the influence of culture on pro-environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours of Canadian consumers. Results indicate that French-Canadians, as opposed to their English counterparts, (a) are more knowledgeable and concerned about ecological issues, (b) perceive that it is important to behave in an environmentally friendly fashion, (c) believe that most corporations are acting responsibly toward the environment, and (d) consider environmental issues to a greater extent when making a purchase. However, English-Canadians are more likely to recycle and are more willing to pay a premium price for ecologically compatible products. Cross-cultural disparities were also found with respect to the classic "knowledge-attitude-behaviour" model. Implications for marketers and policy-makers as well as opportunities for future research are discussed.

Resume

Les dernieres decennies furent caracterisees par une globalisation rapide des marches et par une preoccupation grandissante de la part de la population face aux problemes ecologiques. Cette recherche examine les differences culturelles des Canadiens relativement a leurs connaissances, leurs attitudes et leurs comportements pro-environnementaux. Les resultats indiquent que les Canadiens-francais, comparativement a leurs homologues Anglais, (a) sont plus informes et preoccupes par les problemes ecologiques, (b) percoivent davantage qu'il est important de se comporter de facon a proteger l'environnement, (c) croient que les entreprises agissent de maniere responsable face a l'environnement, et (d) considerent davantage les repercussions ecologiques lorsqu'ils effectuent un achat. Toutefois, les Canadiens-- anglais sont plus enclins ii recycler et sont prets a payer un prix plus eleve pour des produits compatibles avec l'environnement. Des differences culturelles ont egalement ete observees relativement au modele classique << connaissance-attitude-comportement >>. Des recommandations strategiques et des voles de recherche interessantes sont proposees.

In the past few decades there has been a positive evolution in pro-environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours among consumers. In the late 1980s, the National Anxiety Centre reported that environmental issues represented half of the top- 10 worry list (Schlossberg, 1992). Businesses coped with this new situation in many innovative and relevant ways. For instance, the 3 Ps program (polluting prevention pays) of 3M, DuPont Corporation's commitment to 70% waste reduction by the year 2000, and McDonald's Corporation's efforts to eliminate polystyrene clamshell packaging have been commended as progressive and exemplary steps in corporate environmental practices (Menon, Menon, Chowdhury, & Jankovitch, 1999). Green consumers also adapted to environmental threats in several ways. For instance, they were willing to pay more for ecologically friendly products (Myburgh-Louw & O'Shaughnessy, 1994), considered environmental issues when shopping (e.g., checking if the product is made from recycled materials), and bought more ecologically compatible products (e.g., biodegradable diapers).

In an increasingly globalized marketplace, there is evidence that knowledge of environmental issues, attitudes toward ecological problems, and environmentally friendly behaviours vary across cultures (Ahmed, de Camprieu, & Hope, 1981; Laroche, Toffoli, Kim, & Muller, 1996). While there seems to be an increased interest in the separate areas of pro-environmental studies and cross-cultural research, little work has investigated the overlapping of the two fields. The current study attempts to address this paucity by looking at cultural differences between French- and English-Canadians with respect to environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours. …

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