1.1 Research Context and Problem Statement
Rapid technological and economic growth demands have imposed huge pressure on earth’s natural resources. Not only have these factors exerted too much pressure on natural resources, but they have also led to pollution and increased destruction of the planet. The biggest harm to the natural ecosystem has been caused by men, and thus the increase in the calls for environmental conservation and sustainability efforts (Kanchanapibul et al., 2013). Globally, environmental concerns have become the biggest challenge, leading to corrective measures in daily practices and adopting habits that will help the overall sustainability of the planet. Producers and service providers have heeded this call and are headed towards green production practices and environmental conservation. On the other hand, consumers are also adopting green buying, where the emphasis on buying products from environmentally sensitive producers is becoming the order of the day.
Unlike any other generation that has existed before, millennials have been among the most environmentally sensitive generation. Millennials are also the most educated generation that has existed so far on the planet (Maheswari & Revathi, 2022). Their technological expertise and habits have led to a high predisposition to information. They can also exchange information with much more ease over the various internet ad social media platforms, increasing the chances of better communication of the change the globe needs. Moreover, this is the generation with the most easily disposable funds. Therefore, this generation’s consumption is relatively high compared to the other generations.
With high consumption trends for the various products, there are easier and better means of achieving their various motives for the future. Millennials are very thoughtful of the future and the sustainability of the planet. This has largely influenced consumer purchase behavior among the generation. They want more environmentally friendly products, commonly referred to as green products (Dangelico & Vocalelli, 2017). The sustainability of the practices they engage in and their impact on the planet’s sustainability is becoming an issue of central concern to them.
In a bid to buy green products and push on with green buying, the generation spends more time researching environment-friendly products than any other product. They are spending even more time investigating products before purchasing them. Aspects of the products, like the reviews from other consumers that have tried the products, have become a very important element for this generation. Therefore, this is pushing producers and service providers to adopt green marketing and production patterns (Sana, 2020). The biggest intention is to prove how sustainable their production lines are to this sensitive generation. The efforts by such companies have not gone unrewarded because consumers are developing a greater preference for green purchasing as time progresses. When given two options of products that serve the same purpose, many people will most definitely choose green products. This demonstrates the high commitment to environmental sustainability in the global population.
Environmental pollution issues, especially air pollution, global warming, and climate change, have led to a great awareness of the seriousness of the challenge we face as a planet (Hashim et al., 2020). Therefore, there is increased awareness, and people are taking precautionary measures to help safeguard the planet. Consumers are now achieving higher levels of environmental consciousness, attention, and cautiousness. They are properly considering the impact of their actions on the globe, and these trends are influencing the green purchase behavior of the people. According to Kong et al. (2014), this has greatly influenced green product purchases.
Green products are intended to save the energy used in the production chains and save on the resources used in the various products’ production. As a result, products made through recycling other materials that could have been toxic to the environment are gaining more popularity. Innovative technology that avoids using natural resources that lead to the emission of toxic waste, like fossil fuels, is also gaining increased prominence in the population (Maheswari & Revathi, 2022). Therefore, these moves show the dedication of the people to achieving change. Green consumption is also meant to promote the consumption of products that avoid using toxic substances in production. Therefore, green consumption may apply to products and services in several sectors.
In agriculture, consuming organically produced products only and avoiding the consumption of genetically modified organisms can be a perfect idealization of green production (Woo & Kim, 2019). In the beauty and cosmetic industry, avoiding products that emit toxic gasses to the environment both in the production and use stages. When it comes to the transport industry, adopting hybrid and electric vehicles that no longer use fossil fuels is a major step in eliminating pollution and shifting to green purchases. Generally, green products have a small negative impact on the environment. This means they are more reusable, decomposable, recyclable, and renewable. These are the products that the consumption trends are shifting to globally.
Several studies have been conducted in line with the factors affecting consumer behavior. These studies show that some of the factors that influence green purchase intentions include the knowledge available to the consumers, the attitudes of the consumers towards the various products, and the emotional aspects of the consumers (Wang et al., 2020; Hashim et al., 2020). Therefore, if a producer needs to impact the consumer’s green purchase behavior, they need to pay a lot of attention to their decision-making process.
Different studies have shown different results regarding constructing the correlation between these factors. Some studies have shown a positive correlation between environmental and ecological knowledge and green purchase behavior, while others have not shown any relationship between these two factors. Moreover, very little has been done concerning the attitudes and emotions of the different consumers and how they affect their green purchase decisions. Therefore, this research seeks to establish this correlation and develop proper findings from the young Chinese generation.
1.2 Research Objectives
- To reveal the important factors affecting green purchase intentions of the young Chinese generation.
- To discuss the impact of personal effect on green purchase intentions of the young Chinese generation.
- To establish the impact of environmental issues knowledge on green purchase intentions.
1.3 Research Questions
This study seeks to answer the following research questions.
- What factors affect the young Chinese generation’s green purchase decisions and intentions?
- Is there a relationship between the levels of knowledge on ecological issues and the green purchase decision of the young Chinese generation?
- How does the attitude of young people in the Chinese market affect their green purchase behavior?
- What is the relationship between consumers’ emotions and their green purchase decision?
1.4 Research Significance
A wide pool of literature already exists concerning green purchase decisions and behavior. This research, therefore, extends the current body of knowledge in this field and seeks to establish the specifics of these variables. It will establish the relationship that exists between green purchase intentions and the levels of consumer knowledge on ecological issues. The study will also establish the relationship between consumer attitudes in the Chinese market and how these attitudes affect their green purchase decisions and intentions. Finally, it will establish emotional factors from the consumers and how they affect their green purchase intentions.
1.5 Report Structure
This paper is systematically arranged and presented to bring out the proper conclusions from the research. The second part of the paper conducts a literature review. The literature reviewed in this section is systematically arranged to explore the various important themes in the existing literature. The third part will present the research methodology adopted. Here, the research approach will be discussed. The sample and the instrument used in the data collection procedures, data analysis, reliability, and validity of the tool. The fourth section will present the findings, and the fifth will discuss the findings and draw conclusions.
2. Literature Review and Hypothesis Development
This section explores already existing literature on this subject. The implications of the existing research and the various topics will be presented in this section, with a particular focus on the availability of information and knowledge, the impact of the personal effect on green purchasing intentions, and the effect of emotions on green purchasing decisions. The hypothesis is organized around the different moderating effects of these factors and the overall impact on the green purchasing decision of the young Chinese generation.
Much research has been conducted concerning the impact of consumer attitudes on their purchase behavior (Kanchanapibul et al., 2013). There is a positive correlation between the attitudes of a consumer and their purchase decisions. The prior experiences of the individual often influence these attitudes. It has become evident that consumer attitudes play a central role in influencing their behavior towards the ecology. These attitudes are mainly influenced by the increased exposure and availability of information on various climatic and environmental changes (Suki, 2016). The call for everyone to play any role is fast spreading, and people in the developed world and emerging economies are all taking note of this. This greatly impacts the attitudes that they are developing toward their daily consumption habits and the products that they use to facilitate the habits.
A strong correlation exists between personal attitudes towards ecological change and the purchase decisions of various consumers. Built on prior experience and interaction with information and real-time climate changes, attitudes play a huge role in the determination to participate in ecological change (Zaremohzzabieh et al., 2021). Therefore, with these factors in mind, the researchers concluded a strong correlation between the ecological effect and the consumer purchase decision of green products among the young generation. The researcher implies that the personal affective response to the ecological changes is the biggest source of motivation for the young generation. Yadav and Pathak (2016) explore this aspect in more detail using the theory of planned behavior. The researchers imply that several factors have an effect on the behavior of an individual over time. This way, an individual’s attitude towards a product or a situation goes a long way in influencing their decisions.
The study by Kanchanipibul et al. (2013), after testing various hypotheses, establishes the relationship between consumer attitudes towards a product and how much they influence the purchase decision and behavior. The research suggests that producers should review their existing products carefully to determine young consumers’ attention towards their products. This is particularly so for consumers with a positive attitude towards the ecology (Zhuang et al., 2021). According to the study, this will attract them to purchase their products, gradually winning their affection and loyalty to the product. This will lead to greater revenue generation from this particular group. Establishing a green action plan is the most effective way of achieving the attention of this population and, consequentially, the brand’s sustainability in the wake of the changing consumer patterns. To examine the truth in this, the following thesis will be tested.
H1. Young generation customers with stronger affective responses to ecological/green issues will have a stronger intention to become involved in green purchasing.
Studies have also tried to establish the relationship between the knowledge available to the consumers and the effect of the knowledge on consumer green purchase decisions (Liobikiene et al., 2016; Kanchanipibul et a., 2013). In building product trust, the consumers rely on the information available. In this context, millennials have the largest volumes of information at their disposal. Before buying a product, the young generation has been seen to engage in proper research. This is in pursuit of information they will use to develop knowledge of the products. Additionally, the availability of technology helps in the communication of the biggest concerns that the globe has. Therefore, knowledge of environmental issues and climatic changes has become accessible to the generation.
According to Liobikiene et al. (2016), there is a very strong correlation between the subjective norms of a people (Zhuang et al., 2021), interaction of knowledge, and confidence in green products and their green purchase behavior. This implies that knowledge is a very powerful element in the entire process. However, the study by Kanchanipibul et al. (2013) reveals very little knowledge regarding the specificity of the issues. However, their subjective knowledge and information acquired through the various sources of information influence their green purchase behavior. The levels of knowledge on the issues are relatively shallow among the young people in various parts of the globe. However, there is an innate responsibility in them based on the experiences they have and the interaction they have had with information. This innate responsibility has been referred to as the consumer’s individual characteristics by Zhuang et al. (2021). The research establishes the depth of connection between the different factors and the significance of each on the green purchase intention of young consumers.
Wang et al. (2019) establish that product knowledge can influence the whole decision-making process from the consumers. Therefore, it is often conceptualized as the direct antecedent of green purchase behavior. However, this is not always the case due to the lack of consistency in the literature concerning the topic. Therefore, to solve this gap, the following hypothesis will be tested.
H2: Knowledge is a strong determinant of the green purchase intention of young Chinese consumers.
3.1 Research Approach
A questionnaire was administered through online survey platforms to come up with clear findings on the determinants of the young generations’ purchase intention based on the knowledge, attitudes, and emotions of the young Chinese people. The questionnaire consists of 15 questions. These questions are divided into three parts to check the three independent variables. The findings from the survey were used to determine the relationship that exists between these variables. The questionnaire first sought to establish the age of the respondent, their gender, and their educational levels. Their income levels were also required to establish the respondent’s characteristics in detail. The questions that follow this part are meant to provide quick insights on whether the respondent is familiar with the concept of green products and whether it affects their purchase decision.
Questions in the second part seek insights into consumer attitudes towards ecological changes. These questions explore several issues with their attitudes and encounters with ecological changes and their influence on their purchase behavior. The last part seeks to develop consumer feelings and emotions about their purchase habits and consumption trends concerning green purchasing and how they affect their intentions toward green purchases. By responding to these, the respondents shall help provide insights into the correlation between the factors and the purchase intentions.
The questions were closed-ended. This presents a huge advantage to the research in several aspects. First, using closed-ended questions helps ensure that the respondents stick to the core objectives of the research. This is because some respondents are often willing to provide extra information, which could lead to a loss of focus for the research. They also helped in saving time as the respondents only had to choose what applied to them rather than composing something that felt appropriate for the question (Dalati & Marx Gomez, 2018). According to Nayak and Narayan (2019), Administering online questionnaires is also advantageous for the research. This is because it helped reach more people within a limited range of time. The cost of administering the questionnaires is also relatively lower than conducting physical interviews or surveys that necessitate the physical meeting of the respondents and the researchers.
The survey was administered online to 100 respondents aged between 18 and 30. The respondents willingly answered the questions and were asked to respond with the highest levels of honesty. Of these questionnaires, only 80 were completed, which marks a good percentage of the sample. Two marketing experts were also engaged in helping in the development of insights on the approaches the different products and services sellers are taking. This process’s end goal was to establish the right confidence levels from the results. Using a large sample helped increase the chances of getting as much feedback as possible. Administering the questionnaire to this specific group will help a great deal in collecting first-hand information from the specific group, unlike the case when secondary sources of data are used.
3.3 Data Analysis
Qualitative data analysis methods were used to draw incites from the data collected. The conceived model was analyzed using Atlas.ti analysis software to come up with the conclusion. This tool was cheaply available for data analysis. It helped determine the correlation between the different variables in the study (Friese et al., 2018). The range and means of the data-driven out of this software will be used to conclude the variables under investigation.
3.4 Reliability and Validity
Statistical tests were done to prove the data’s reliability and validity. Chronbach’s alpha test was done on all the variables and constructs to test the validity of the collected data. Items were considered valid if their alpha factor’s value exceeded the level of 0.70 (Yoon, 2009).
The table below represents the average mean, standard deviation, and factor loadings of the various constructs of the research. Out of a maximum of five possible points, most of the findings revealed common agreement from the respondents that they agreed with the main questions of the study. When it came to matters affecting their usual activities, attitudes, and habits, the study revealed a positive correlation between the different factors. The findings in the table below evidence this.
Characteristics of Chinese Millennial People
|Knowledge||I know that human activities are the biggest cause of pollution.
I know about green products
I know how to check green products
|Person’s Effect||It frightens me to imagine that many of the products I use are harmful to the environment
I get angry when I think about how we are destroying the environment
I take it as my responsibility to reduce the harm I cause to the environment
|Intention||I avoid buying products that are possibly harmful to the environment
I have changed my principal products for the ecology
When I have to choose between two products, I choose the one that is less harmful to the environment.
5. Discussion and Conclusions
The results indicate high levels of knowledge among young Chinese people when it comes to ecological challenges. It shows that young people have gained insights into the impact of human activities on the environment. This is attributable to the availability of information and news whenever anything happens, affecting the ecology. It is also evident that 85 percent of young people know about green products. However, only 72 percent can confidently tell the difference between green products and those that are not. This leaves 28 percent of young people without the proper insights. Therefore, it is evident that knowledge is a great determinant of green purchase behavior by the young Chinese generation.
When it comes to the personal effect, which covers the attitudes and emotions towards the various activities, it is evident that the people are really worried when they realize that their actions are greatly impacting the environment. 90% of the respondents take it as their responsibility to reduce activities that are harmful to the environment. These factors have an impact on the intentions of the young generation to purchase green products. This is evident because 90% of the respondents claim that they avoid buying products that could be potentially harmful to the environment. Moreover, 85% of people admit that when they buy two products, they choose the most environmentally friendly one when presented with the option to buy two products. Finally, the fact that 90% of people are willing to change their principal products for the environment makes it even more evident that young people are more willing than ever to take measures that help safeguard the environment. Based on the findings on the emotions and attitudes of young people and how they affect their decision on green purchases, the second hypothesis is also proven.
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