The Influence of Scheduling Styles on Consumers' Preference for Environmentally Friendly Products

Project: Research

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Among various human behaviors, consumption purportedly has the most serious impact on the environment (Steg and Vlek 2009). Because of this phenomenon, environmentally responsible consumption has received increasing attention among scholars and practitioners. Indeed, numerous companies are now offering products whose packaging and/or composition are claimed to be environmentally friendly. Such efforts are undertaken to meet society’s augmented concern about the environment and meet or exceed competitors’ position. For example, Wal-Mart has pressured fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies such as Procter & Gamble to provide environmentally friendly products. Such mandates allow consumers to have a choice between purchasing environmentally friendly products or those they traditionally buy. However, the extent to which consumers value and therefore positively respond to such offerings remains inadequately researched. Prior research indicates that not all consumers are willing to buy environmentally friendly products, due to higher costs or perceived a lower product benefit-price ratio (Luchs et al. 2010). How to boost consumers’ responsible consumption behavior through purchasing environmentally friendly products has been a critical and difficult problem both companies and governments have faced and will likely continue to face.The current research investigates how consumers’ scheduling their consumption trips and how marketers design scheduling embedded in the marketing mix (e.g., scheduling sales promotions) influences consumers’ preference for environmentally friendly products. Scheduling refers to the process of arranging and organizing activities along a time continuum. Scheduling styles can be categorized as either event-time or clock-time scheduling. Using event-time scheduling, consumers rank activities on a to-do list. The start time of each activity depends on the actual progression of previous activities on the list; the end time of each activity affects the subsequent activities on the list (Sellier and Avnet 2014). An example of using event-time to arrange a shopping trip is as follows: Selecting a gift for a friend first, purchasing a book for myself as the second, and getting a haircut as the last. Marketing activities can be scheduled with event-time as well. For instance, hosts on Amazon Live—the live-stream shopping channel of Amazon—often organize their promoted products in order, which is a type of sales promotion scheduled in event time.In contrast, in clock-time scheduling, consumers organize activities on a timetable, allocating each activity to a discrete timeslot with a defined start time and end time (Sellier and Avnet 2014). An example of using clock-time to arrange shopping trip is as follows: 2-3 p.m. for selecting a gift for a friend, 3-4 p.m. for purchasing a book for myself, and 4-5 p.m. for getting a haircut. Lightning deals on Amazon are scheduled with clock-time. Specifically, the promotion for different product categories is set during a specific start and end time.Building on prior research, I propose that event-time (vs. clock-time) scheduling highlights intertemporal connectedness. This connectedness is a general perception that the past, present, and future are interrelated, which subsequently increases the farsightedness needed to discover the longer-term benefits (e.g., society’s environmental well-being) offered by environmentally friendly products. Hence, event-time (vs. clock-time) scheduling increases consumers’ preference for environmentally friendly products. To the best of my knowledge, however, this is the first empirical effort to link scheduling—a central aspect of daily life but one that is under-researched in the marketing domain—with preferences for environmentally friendly products—an important responsible consumption topic that is closely linked to society’s long-term well-being. This research will thus contribute to existing knowledge and pave the way for future studies in both fields of scheduling and responsible consumption. This research will also offer guidance for marketers promoting environmentally friendly products. Furthermore, it will reveal distinct implications for public policy makers and organizational managers responsible for deciding the scheduling policies used in societies and organizations vis-a-vis individuals’ preference for responsible consumption and behavior. These implications will further reflect decisions favoring long-term benefit by sacrificing short-term reward.


Project number9043469
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/12/22 → …