Who are the most pro-environmental in their purchasing behaviour? Is it the young, middle-aged or older consumers? The answer to this question has important implications for the marketing of pro-environmental products.
Our analysis of the Flash Eurobarometer Survey No. 256 released in 2009 reveals that it is not the young nor the very old, but the middle-aged buyers who are the most environmentally conscious. The relationship of environmental awareness and age takes an inverse U shape: awareness rises with age, reaches a peak in early to late middle age and then declines with the oldest age groups. Middle-aged consumers are more likely to declare knowledge of the environmental impact of the products they buy and are most likely to appreciate the importance of the environmental consequences of their purchases. They are also the most likely to support eco-labelling and to the mandatory labelling of carbon footprints. At the same time, the magnitude of the difference between ages varies depending on which measure of environmental awareness is being considered.
The non-linear association between pro-environmental awareness and consumers’ age holds even after controlling for gender, education, occupation and size of settlement. Although levels of environmental consciousness and age profiles vary across the countries of Europe, the greater awareness of the middle-aged consumer is sustained when we control for country.
Environmental awareness Sustainable consumption Pro-environmental Demographics Eco-labelling Economic footprint Europe
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The literature review and initial empirical analysis were undertaken by Ben Beer of partial fulfilment of requirements for the Masters of Environmental Studies 90 point thesis presented to Victoria University of Wellington (Beer 2013). Ben Beer’s supervisor, Professor Philip Morrison, reanalysed the data sometime later and drafted the chapter. Both authors acknowledge the use of the survey European Commission (2009). See http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_256_en.pdf.
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