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Factors Influencing Malaysian Consumers to


Purchase Green Product: A Conceptual
Framework

Conference Paper January 2011

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FACTORS INFLUENCING MALAYSIA CONSUMERS TO
PURCHASE GREEN PRODUCT: A CONCEPTUAL
FRAMEWORK

Lee Chai Har


Multimedia University
Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama, 75450 Bukit Beruang, Melaka.

Ling Heng Yaw


Multimedia University
Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama, 75450 Bukit Beruang, Melaka.

Yeow Jian Ai
Multimedia University
Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama, 75450 Bukit Beruang, Melaka.

Muhammad Arif Hasan


Multimedia University
Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama, 75450 Bukit Beruang, Melaka.

ABSTRACT
Today, global warming perhaps is one of the major threats towards the planet. The weather is
changing and disasters are happening all over the places. People are now more concerned with
ways to protect the environment. For instance, consuming green products is one of the key
initiatives that could be carried out by consumers. There has been many research conducted in
this area, however, there is limited research worked on Malaysian context. Hence, the objective
of this study is to examine the factors that influence consumers to purchase green products in
Malaysia. The conceptual and hypotheses development are grounded on related literature. We
examined five independent variables (social influence, environmental concerns, pro
environmental behaviour, price sensitivity and personal values) against the dependent variable,
intention to purchase green product. The questionnaire was designed based on the related prior
works. Generally, the research findings would enable green marketers to formulate effective
marketing strategy to target greater segment of consumers.

KEYWORDS
Green product, Malaysia

1. INTRODUCTION
Pollution, an environmental issue that affects most of the countries in todays world. Pollution
increases the burden of disease, reduces the expectancy as well as reduces a countrys overall
quality of life. Unfortunately, limited clean up has been done, especially in developing countries.
In fact, these clean up works can be done with minimal costs incurred. It is possible to clean up
polluted site with cost effective and inexpensive advanced technologies which can mitigate the
health of citizens. According to Hartmann and Ibanez (2006), most of the developing countries
are now taking initiatives to promote green marketplaces to develop a sustainable living place.
These initiatives covers delivering greener and cleaner alternatives to consumers based on socio-
demographic segments.

Since 1970's, green products were getting more and more important especially in 1990's due to
the concerns of environment and society. Hence, there was a rapid growth in this area of research
in the mentioned decade. Nowadays, the social and environmental concerns play important role
on consumer purchasing decisions (Prothero, 1996; Menon et al., 1999). Consumers realise that
the direct impact it may have with their purchase behaviour. Hence, they tend to purchase
environmental friendly goods these days. According to Laroche et al. (2001, pp. 503),
customers adapted to this new threatening situation by considering environmental issues when
shopping (e.g. checking if the product is wrapped in recycled material) and by purchasing only
ecologically compatible products (e.g. biodegradable paint, CFC-free hairspray or unbleached
coffee filters). This trend of green buying favoured the surfacing of a new segment of consumer
known as green consumers or green consumerism. Since the number of green customers is
increasing, businesses are now tried to understand and react to external pressures to enhance
their environmental performance (Chen, 2008). In general, green marketing delivers positive
values to the society by attempting to minimize environmental harm during the course of
exchange of needs and wants.

The growing concerns about natural environment have caused the existence of green products.
Consumers are now increasingly interested with activities that can save the environment. One of
the major contributions consumers can do is to support green or recycle products. A green
product can be defined as "a product which the design and/or attributes (and/or production and/or
strategy), uses recycling resources, and which benefits the impact on the environment, or reduces
toxic damage on the environment in the entirety of the life-cycle" (Durif & Julien, 2009, pp. 7).
Despite the growing green activities in the world, obviously, green products will become a key
product for businesses to remain competitive in the market. Therefore, it is interesting to know
what factors influence consumers to purchase green products. This study will be expanding
related works from several studies in the past (i.e: Laroche et al., 2001; Lee, 2008; Wahid et al.
2011) and also adding additional variables and context.

2. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK AND RESEARCH HYPOTHESES


Based on conceptual framework, five independent variables are hypothesized to affect the
dependent variable. These variables will be analysed in the study to determine their importance
and significance in consumers decision to purchase green product. The intention of consumers
to purchase green product may be affected by these variables either positively or negatively
based on their hypothesized argument and prior research. Figure 1 shows the research framework
of this study as well as illustrates the five independent variables which are social influence,
environmental concerns, pro environmental behaviour, price sensitivity and personal values.
Figure 1. A Conceptual Framework of Factors influencing Malaysia Consumers to
Purchase Green Product

Social Influence

Environmental
Concerns

Intention to purchase
Pro Environmental green product
Behaviour

Price Sensitivity

Personal Values

2.1 Social Influence


Social influence occurs when a persons action or thought is influenced by third party. Social
influence has been widely used with other terms such as peer pressure, persuasion conformity
and etc. Consumers buying decisions were always influenced by several sources such as family,
friends, salesperson, and even a person they may not know who shared his experience (Maram &
Kongsompong, 2007). According to Lee (2008), social influence was found to be the most
important predictor in his study on a study of purchasing behaviour of Hong Kong young
consumers. This leads to first hypothesis:

H1: Social influence will have a positive influence on Malaysia consumers to purchase green
products.

2.2 Environmental Concerns


Environmental concern refers to the belief, stance and the degree of concern an individual holds
towards the environment (Said et al., 2003, pp. 307). A study conducted by Lee (2008) revealed
that an environmental concern was found to have a significant relationship on green purchasing
behaviour. However, Paco and Raposo (2009) said that in Portuguese, consumers are supporting
the environmental improvement but they did not transform their concerns into actions. With this,
we will develop second hypothesis below to test the relationship in Malaysia context.

H2: Environmental concerns will have a positive influence on Malaysia consumers to purchase
green products.

2.3 Pro Environmental Behaviour


Pro environmental behaviour refers to behaviour that harms the environment as little as possible
or even benefits the environment (Steg & Vlek, 2009, pp.309). Laroche et al. (2001) findings
showed environmentally behaviour insignificant on consumers willingness to pay more for
green product. Meaning, consumers with pro environmental behaviour may not willing to
purchase green product at a more expensive price. However, Steg and Vlek (2009) conclude in
their study that individual who adopt pro environmental behaviour can contribute in achieving
long term environment sustainability. They also commented that psychologists will first need to
understand factors and processes that threaten environmental sustainability before they can
encourage pro environmental behaviour among individuals. Hence, we develop third hypothesis:

H3: Pro environmental behaviour will have a positive influence on Malaysia consumers to
purchase green products.

2.4 Price Sensitivity


Consumers price sensitivity refers to the importance of price in making purchase decision
(Hansen & Sorenses, 1993). Price, one of the major factor to consider before consumer making
purchase decision
Earlier research showed that consumers are sensitive with products price when they buy green
products (Mandese, 1991). However, study conducted by Jacoby and Olson (1977) showed
opposite findings, customers were first interested with brand then price was next. Also, research
done by Grunet and Kristensen (1992) shown that 60% of consumers are willing to pay a
premium for ecological products. In addition, recent findings by Roos and Nyrud (2008) showed
green consumers are less price sensitivity compared to non green consumers. With the mixture
findings in earlier research, we will like to find out in Malaysia context, where, this lead to fourth
hypothesis:

H4: Price sensitivity will have a positive influence on Malaysia consumers to purchase green
products.

2.5 Personal Values


Personal values can be briefly described as an individuals belief that a behaviour is good or
desirable, this include valuing the environment. Koo et al. (2008, pp. 157) said that personal
values can affect individuals judgment of which attributes of an object are important in decision
making about that object. Fraj and Martinez (2006) indicated that values are the criterion that
individuals use to select and justify their actions and to value objects. According to Reser and
Bentrupperbaumer (2005) and Stern (2000), values were an important role in influencing pro-
environmental behaviour. In addtion, Hoyer and MacInnis (2004) revealed that marketers can
gain a better understanding on consumers by knowing the values consumers hold. Therefore,
consumers values and beliefs need to be considered when examining the factors that influence
purchase decisions. Hence, we develop the fifth hypothesis:

H5: Personal values will have a positive influence on Malaysia consumers to purchase green
products.

3. RESEACH METHODOLOGY
This research study shall focus mainly on the factors influencing Malaysia consumers to
purchase green product. Hence, the questionnaire will be designed targeting on consumers in
Malaysia. The designed questions will be based on the five key factors discussed earlier, which
are social influence, environmental concerns, pro environmental behaviour, price sensitivity and
personal values, as well as the hypotheses defined earlier. For the purpose of this study, all the
data will be obtained from two data sources, namely primary sources and secondary sources.
Primary data sources are referred to as information that is obtained first hand by the researcher
on the field of interest and specific to that study. Secondary sources on the other hand, are
referred to as data that are already available. These data are usually from researchers who have
studied the same or similar topic as the researcher conducting the current research. Good sources
of secondary data sources are journals, newspapers, magazines and online websites. Major
advantages of obtaining information using the secondary sources are because such information is
usually easier and cheaper to obtain. The downside of secondary sources, the information can be
obsolete and not meet the specific need of the researcher.

3.1 Data Collection Method


Data will be collected using survey questionnaire. Survey questionnaire was chosen because it
can cover a wide range of respondents in different geographical areas (Sekaran & Bougie, 2010).
This method is also popular among researchers as it is less expensive compared to face to face
interview. Jansson et al. (2010) used this method in their study entitled Green consumer
behavior: determinants of curtailment and eco-innovation adoption. In addition, Rivera-Camino
(2007) also used survey questionnaire to collect data in his study entitled Re-evaluating green
marketing strategy: a stakeholder perspective.

3.2 Questionnaire Design


The design of the questionnaire for this study will be divided into two sections, which are
Section I and Section II. Section I will consist of questions regarding the demographic profile of
respondents and questions on the general knowledge about green product. In section II, it will
consist of questions regarding the variables analysed earlier in this study. It will be sub-divided
into five parts. Questions for each variable are about five to seven. Questionnaire items will be
adapted from different sources, including Lee (2008) and Laroche et al. (2001). In addition, we
will also develop few new questionnaire items for this study too.

The measurement used for this study is the Likert scale, which is designed to measure the extent
to which respondents agree or disagree with statements. A seven-point Likert scale will be used
to measure the items for the variables, where 1 (strongly disagree), 2 (disagree), 3
(somewhat disagree), 4 (undecided/neutral), 5 (somewhat agree), 6 (agree) and 7
(strongly agree). Gupta and Ogden (2009) used seven point Likert scale measurement in their
study titled To buy or not to buy? A social dilemma perspective on green buying.

3.2.1 Pilot Study


Pilot study will also be conducted to ensure the validity and reliability of the questionnaire (Lee
et al., 2011). A pre-designed questionnaire will be pre-tested based on a small sample of 60
respondents to gather their responses and feedbacks. Corrective measures will then need to carry
out to revise and restructure the identified items in the final survey questionnaire.

3.3 Sampling Method


We will employ convenience sampling in this study. This method was chosen due to the
convenience of the research and it has been widely used in the past. For instance, Manaktola and
Jauhari (2007) used this convenience sampling method in their study. The sample size of this
study plan to be 300 respondents from Malaysia. The target population for this study will consist
of respondents from Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. These are the main cities chosen because
higher population and environmentally friendly programs (e.g. zero plastic bag campaign) were
placed and made publicly known in these cities. For instance, most of the shopping complex in
these cities implemented zero plastic bag campaign on every Saturday. To encourage
participation of respondents, an appreciation token will be given to each participant.

3.4 Data Analysis Techniques


Data analysis techniques that will be used for this study include descriptive analytical tools such
as mean and standard deviation to analyze the respondents feedback. In addition, inferential
statistics such as correlation analysis (to examine the relationship among independent and
dependent variables), normality test (to test whether the data is normally distributed) and
multiple regression analysis (to determine the influence of five factors on intention to purchase
green product) will be used too. Kim and Chung (2011) had also used multiple regression
analysis to test the relationships among the variables in their study titled Consumer purchase
intention for organic personal care products.

4. CONCLUSION
Malaysia, like many Asian cities, is suffering high levels of environmental pollution such as air
pollution, traffic noise, worsening water quality, high levels of garbage disposal and rapidly
diminishing landfill space. Malaysians awareness of green living is at its infant stage as
compared to people in the western countries. Result of this study will enhance new
understanding on the profile of Malaysia consumers in purchasing green product. Since there are
limited studies conducted within Malaysia context, the findings of this study will be beneficial to
local retailers, especially those selling green products by understanding green consumers buying
patterns.

Foreign retailers who intend to introduce green products into Malaysia will find this study
meaningful too. Gurau and Ranchhod (2005) revealed that international green marketers raised
their concerns that the major obstacle faced by them in expanding their green products to other
nations is the scarcity of market information available for them. International marketers fail to
segment and develop effective marketing strategies if the information is not sufficient. In
general, green marketing delivers positive values to the society by attempting to minimize
environmental harm during the course of exchange of needs and wants. This has been recognised
in an earlier finding by Miller and Szekely (1995), revealed that it is a continuous process for
firm to understand the definition of green in order to satisfy, even exceed customers
environmental needs. It is also a critical path for firms to be competitive in the market.

As mentioned by our Prime Minister, Dato Sri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, in Malaysia green
forum 2010, green issues have become a world concern. Unfortunately, most of the Malaysians
are still lack of awareness about the impact of their irresponsible activities to the environment.
Major initiatives need to be carried out to convince people to be responsible on their actions and
behaviours. Based on aforementioned, relevant government agencies will find this study useful
by knowing what factors influence Malaysians to consume green products so that more
campaign should be organised to raise the awareness of consumers to save the planet as what
other developed countries do.
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