Moving consumers towards sustainable consumption behaviors through the purchase process of slow-moving consumer goods

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in Collaborative and Industrial Design
The urgency to change the throw-away society and current consumption patterns and consumers' growing ecological awareness require businesses to put more effort into environmentally sustainable actions and products, while businesses are identified to have great potential to affect consumers' behaviors during the purchasing process. Besides, consumers report that it is difficult for them to put awareness into actions though they have the awareness. This research chose slow-moving consumer goods (SMCGs) as the focus category, because their purchase decision-making process is largely different from that of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). Therefore, this thesis investigates online stores' possible roles in moving consumers towards sustainable consumption behaviors during the purchase decision-making process of SMCGs. Particularly, it studies the strong sustainable consumption from behavioral and environmental perspectives. In order to explore the possible behavioral changes in the online context, nudging theory is mainly investigated. A case study with a Finnish small-sized furniture manufacturer and retail named Hakola, who performs well in environmental sustainability, and six semi-structured interviews with consumers within the target group, are conducted, to explore the answer of the research question from both the perspectives of business and consumers: What could be the role of business in moving individuals towards sustainable consumption behaviors in e-commerce? As a result, the company's environmentally sustainable actions through the lens of the life cycle and the application of nudging theory is firstly reported. Secondly, consumers' attitudes, needs, and barriers in sustainable consumption behaviors SMCGs are identified. Thirdly, through joint analysis, business roles in moving individuals towards sustainable consumption behaviors in e-commerce are identified. Together, the results provide a comprehensive understanding of businesses' potentials in moving consumers towards more sustainable consumption behaviors through the choice architecture of online stores. Using a service design approach, the research eventually designs an Eco-Purchase toolkit for companies to improve their impacts on consumers' sustainable consumption behaviors and facilitate consumers to behave sustainably during purchasing. The purpose of the toolkit is to inspire companies of the potential means of nudging consumers towards more sustainable consumption behaviors. The thesis is concluded by evaluating the purchasing decision-making process's opportunities in moving consumers' consumption towards more sustainable behaviors and indicating the positive roles of businesses in the process.
Julier, Guy
Thesis advisor
Tiilikainen, Sanna
strong sustainable consumption, consumption behavior, nudge theory, e-commerce retails, slow-moving consumer goods, purchase decision-making, consumers
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