Research suggests that sustainability may not be sufficient to yield a competitive advantage. Building on the resource-based view, this research evaluates three questions: (1) Can using sustainability as a differentiator lead to consumers choosing sustainable products? (2) Does product sustainability appeal more to environmentally concerned consumers? (3) Does product sustainability appeal more when paired with innovation? To test the hypotheses, an online survey of 344 US respondents was conducted. Consumers were given a hypothetical budget for an office chair and asked to choose between two products at a time. Hypotheses were tested with frequency and Chisquare tests and logistic regression. Findings indicate that the innovative product was preferred over the undifferentiated one, but the sustainable product was preferred over both innovative and undifferentiated products. The sustainability–innovativeness bundle was not preferred over the sustainable product. Environmental concern increased preference for the sustainable product over the innovative product, but not over the undifferentiated one. These findings suggest that sustainability is a stronger differentiator than innovation, but that bundling both features does not further enhance product choice. Attitude toward the environment may not predict behavior. Instead, preference for the sustainable product may originate in variety-seeking behavior, with sustainability seen as an innovation.
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Saunders College of Business
Hull, C.E.; Russell, J.D.; Kukar-Kinney, M. Making Sustainability a Core Competency: Consumer Response to Sustainable Innovative Products. Sustainability 2022, 14, 11688. https://doi.org/10.3390/su141811688
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