Management and Organizational Studies Publications

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European Journal of Marketing

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– The purpose of this study is to examine whether consumers demonstrate a multi-dimensional understanding of sustainability in their decision-making and addresses the situational influence of confidence and compromise on sustainable product choices.


– Using three choice-based conjoint experiments the authors examined the importance of sustainability, compromise and confidence to consumers across two contexts. Two-step cluster analyses were used to segment consumers based on the importance scores.


– Data indicates that the environmental dimension of sustainability is the most influential followed by economic and social. The responses suggest three distinct segments identified as self-focused, trend motivated and reality driven that demonstrate significantly different characteristics in their approach to sustainable products.

Research limitations/implications

– Current research tends to focus on the environmental dimension, while paying little heed to the economic and social dimensions. This research indicates that consumers consider all three dimensions when making sustainable product choices and highlights that differences may emerge with respect to product utility.

Practical implications

– Firms must be aware that consumers differ in the importance they place on sustainability. The reality-driven segment is the most attractive segment, as they are highly engaged and are willing to invest time in understanding the complexities of sustainability. The trend-motivated segments are more fickle with superficial knowledge, and the self-focused segments are self-serving in their orientations and use price as a key decision variable.


– The paper addresses an important oversight in the sustainability literature. It provides both a theoretical contribution to advance marketing research and a practical contribution that may be of interest to those trying to market sustainable products.


The file available to download is the post-print version of this article which was published in the European Journal of Marketing.

Citation of this paper:

Bonnie J.K. Simpson, Scott K. Radford, (2014) "Situational variables and sustainability in multi-attribute decision-making", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 48 Issue: 5/6, pp.1046-1069,

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