Targeted Information and Sustainable Consumption: A Field Experiment

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Abstract: Information provision is often put forward as a simple way to facilitate sustainable consumption, building upon the idea that consumers would adjust their choices if they were sufficiently informed about product attributes. While previous information interventions have shown small positive effects of providing information, technological progress offers new and promising ways to provide information to consumers in a more targeted fashion. In this paper, we evaluate the effectiveness of a targeted information intervention via an App based on a field experiment with a large supermarket chain. First, we explore to what extent consumers access targeted information about product sustainability and whether consumers who have bought unsustainable products are more likely to avoid new information. Second, we evaluate the impact of providing such targeted information on consumption choices. Our results show that about 60% of treated consumers access information about product sustainability, independent of whether they have bought sustainable or unsustainable products in the past. Yet, providing targeted information has no notable impact on consumption choices. Our sample size allows us to exclude small effect sizes of 0.11 standard deviations. Exploratory analyses suggest that the lack of effectiveness is neither explained by inattention nor price differentials, but rather by a reluctance to act upon the new information. These findings question information provision policies as isolated tools to
steer transformative behavioral change, even in light of the new ways in which this information
can be delivered to consumers.


Asistencia presencial: Aula E1-1-01 Campus de Córdoba

Keywords: Field Experiment, Information provision, Label credence goods, Pro-environmental behavior, sustainability