Investigating older female consumers’ environmentally sustainable apparel consumption through socioemotional selectivity theory and advertising appeals

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gwia Kim (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Byoungho Jin

Abstract: During recent decades, the importance of environmentally sustainable apparel consumption has been emphasized by researchers and marketers because the apparel industry is responsible for several concerns related to the environment. However, despite numerous studies on environmental apparel consumption, current research on the behavior of older consumers is limited. Older consumers have recently grown in their collective purchasing power and are increasingly consuming more apparel; thus, for the purpose of sustainable development, it is important to examine their environmentally sustainable apparel consumption. The purpose of this study is to explain the consumption of environmentally sustainable apparel among elderly consumers. Built on socioemotional selectivity theory (SST) and the positivity effect, this study attempts to discover whether the time perspective of elderly consumers explains their environmentally sustainable apparel consumption. Moreover, by comparing advertisement appeal types, the study further examines how purchase intentions toward environmentally sustainable apparel may be enhanced. This research was conducted with female participants who were 65 years of age or older at the time of this study. A survey questionnaire obtained information about the respondents’ environmentally sustainable apparel consumption, time perspective, fashion consciousness, and purchase intention toward shirts shown in environment-related advertisement stimuli. In order to test the ten proposed hypotheses, a total of 154 usable responses were collected from members of organizations (e.g., churches, YMCAs, and senior centers) in North Carolina. The findings showed that older female adults with expansive time perspectives were more likely to behave sustainably when purchasing apparel (H1), with their fashion consciousness moderating this relationship between time perspective and environmental apparel consumption (H1a). Although emotional appeals did not have stronger effects on purchase intention than rational (H2a) or control appeals (H2b), it was discovered that rational advertisements can encourage the environmental purchase intentions of elderly consumers more effectively than advertisements with no environmental messages (H2c). Positive emotional messages were not more persuasive than negative emotional messages (H3a), but they nevertheless enhanced environmental purchase intentions more than control advertisements (advertisements with no messages about environmental sustainability) (H3b). There were no significant differences between negative emotional and control appeals (H3c). These results offer several implications. The time perspective of elderly women is shown to have considerable influence on their environmental behavior. Expansive time perspective is correlated with higher environmentally sustainable apparel consumption than limited time perspective, likely because expansive time perspectives emphasize future-oriented goals, which align strongly with the concept of sustainability. Thus, apparel retailers are advised to consider time perspective as well as age when encouraging environmental consumption; furthermore, their clothing items would benefit from higher levels of fashion consciousness. Environmental messages containing rational information and eliciting positive emotions can also encourage purchase intentions toward environmentally sustainable apparel among elderly consumers. The limitations of the study and suggestions for future studies are discussed as well.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Advertising appeals, Elderly consumer behavior, Environmental sustainability, Older female consumers, Socioemotional selectivity theory
Consumer behavior
Older consumers $x Psychology
Women consumers $x Psychology
Advertising $x Psychological aspects
Women's clothing industry $x Environmental aspects

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