Regardless of the image targeted in marketing communications, the social marketer's goal would be the use of all three interrelated images to frame the decision and an increase in the probability that a proenvironmental choice would result. Because a large segment of the population has been identified as proenvironmental, a social responsibility attribute such as product greenness becomes a competitive advantage. If the social responsibility attribute is used to screen alternatives, other attributes cannot compensate for shortcomings in this area. Despite commonly held beliefs that green products are slightly more expensive and less effective ( The Roper Organization, 1990), the price and quality attributes might not enter the decision until those that violate the green screening criterion have been eliminated.
The above strategies for influencing consumer decisions involve manipulating the decision frame for consumers who already are socially responsible and concerned about the environment. Changing an individual's value system is difficult, time consuming, and perhaps not reasonably possible. However, it is possible to increase general public awareness of social responsibilities and existing problems through educational and public relations efforts. As awareness increases, it is possible that knowledge structures will be created so that the individual can develop and use these environmentally related images to make decisions.
In more general terms, the image theory perspective emphasizes the importance of the consumer's values and principles on consumption decisions, whether they are simple or complex. Decision making under image theory demands consistency between the value, trajectory, and strategic images while the cognitive effort is conserved through profitability-compatibility tests and adoption-progress decisions. The ability of image theory to simply, but elegantly, describe the decision making process for complex, value laden decisions involving social responsibility issues is strong evidence of its value in explaining all types of consumer decision making.
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Beach L. R. ( 1990). Image theory: Decision making in personal and organizational contexts. Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Berger I. E., & Corbin. R. M. ( 1992). "Perceived consumer effectiveness and faith in others as moderators of environmentally responsible behaviors". Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 11, 79-89.