How to shift consumer Behaviors to be More Sustainable: a literature Review and Guiding Framework

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How to SHIFT Consumer Behaviors to be More Sustainable:

A Literature Review and Guiding Framework

Katherine White, Rishad Habib, & David J. Hardisty

UBC Sauder School of Business


Highlighting the important role of marketing in encouraging sustainable consumption, the current research presents a review of the academic literature from marketing and behavioral science examining the most effective ways to shift consumer behaviors to be more sustainable. In the process of the review, the authors develop a comprehensive framework for conceptualizing and encouraging sustainable consumer behavior change. The framework is represented by the acronym SHIFT, and it proposes that consumers are more inclined to engage in pro-environmental behaviors when the message or context leverages the following psychological factors: Social influence, Habit, Individual self, Feelings and cognition, and Tangibility. The authors also identify five broad challenges to encouraging sustainable behaviors and use these to develop novel theoretical propositions and directions for future research. Finally, the authors outline how the framework can be used by practitioners aiming to encourage sustainable consumer behaviors.

Keywords: sustainable consumer behavior, environmentally friendly behavior, ecological behavior, corporate social responsibility

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issue “warning to humanity”: A similar warning was first issued by scientists in 1992…. Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends. We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption….

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