Over the last decade, the notions of “green” or so-called “ecologically-friendly” products have become an integral part of practically any marketing campaign. With a rapid increase in companies paying attention to the environment, consumers have eventually begun questioning the purity of their intentions (Torelli, Balluchi, & Lazzini, 2020). After a series of meticulous research, it was estimated that many enterprises indeed manipulated the concept to gain a competitive advantage, creating a foundation for customers’ skepticism. Thus, nowadays, the vast majority of customers feel rather uncertain about purchasing eco-friendly products, as many enterprises have now acquired a tendency to lie about the ecological manufacturing of the product to increase the sales rates (Pimonenko et al., 2020). To address the issue, it is necessary to dwell upon the reasons behind the tendency of greenwashing, which include the loose federal restrictions on ecologically friendly product definition, companies’ misconceptions of the real financial scopes of environmentalism in manufacturing, and consumers’ intentions behind buying “green” products.
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Primarily, it is important to dwell upon the legal regulations existing in today’s market to define the extent to which companies can manipulate the idea of ecologically friendly manufacturing. Hence, according to the researchers, the Federal Trade Commission in the US does not obtain a rigid framework for ecological production, providing the companies to manipulate their customers by using such words as “organic” or “eco-friendly,” as these notions bear no significance in terms of legal justification of the manufacturing (Schmuck, Matthess, & Naderer, 2018). For example, one of the latest case studies concerning H&M, a clothing brand that launched its ecologically friendly collection claiming some clothes to be made from “organic cotton” (Petter, 2020). However, the campaign that could have been legally considered as ecological still required many other manufacturing tools like water, which contradicts the initial idea of the collection.
Another notion, which is closely associated with the aforementioned process of greenwashing is the concept of purchase intention. Scholars define it as the willingness to buy a specific product based on their general impression of it and the external factors that contribute to the following decision (Ko & Jin, 2017). The most common effect is displayed through the increase in skeptical behavior, which stands for one’s tendency to doubt any information received (Goh & Balaji, 2016). When it comes to the idea of purchase intention in the context of green product marketing, greenwashing appears to be a decisive factor in terms of the final buying process. Some researchers claim to greenwash to be an insignificant factor compared to customers’ environmental knowledge and concerns about the ecological system (Fabiola & Mayangsari, 2020). Others, on the other hand, believe this issue to be a direct cause of poor ecological knowledge and, eventually, skepticism when it comes to obtaining an eco-friendly item (Orazi & Chan, 2020). Moreover, some customers are willing to buy “eco-friendly” products for purely selfish reasons, paying barely any attention to the actual characteristics of purchased goods.
Finally, the notion of consumers’ skepticism towards buying “green” products is also correlated with the overall misconception of the cost of ecological manufacturing for both the purchasers and producers. Today’s market tendencies claim that some companies, due to being reassured of unreasonably costly ecological manufacturing, invest more in the “greenwashing” marketing campaigns than in the production of sustainable goods (Griese, Werner, & Hogg, 2017). As a result, such companies invest in the level of consumers’ uncertainty in terms of “green” product purchase instead of developing their compatibility with real and more profitable ecological brands.
Consumers’ skepticism about green products is based on various factors, making it difficult to define a working strategy towards situation improvement. As required by the context, the following issue was analyzed in terms of skepticism related to the notions of greenwashing, purchase intention and legal perception of ecologically friendly manufacturing. As a result, it was estimated that each of the factors is closely correlated with the other ones, creating an explicit issue in the customer-manufacturer paradigm.
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