Chintakayala P, Young W, Barkemeyer R, Morris MA. Breaking niche sustainable products into the mainstream: organic milk and free-range eggs. Bus Srateg Environ. 2018 Mar 30. doi: 10.1002/bse.2050

We contribute to the existing literature on factors influencing sustainable product consumption behavior by (a) employing actual supermarket sales data from over 300 outlets in England covering up to 18 million customers, and by (b) examining two products that can both be labeled as sustainable but have very different market positions: organic milk as a typical niche product, and free-range eggs which (based on market share) can be seen as a mainstream product. Our study has looked into the influence of factors such as deprivation and race, which have not previously been looked into. The results partially confirm previous research, which is mostly based on self-reported behavior, identifying both price and deprived catchment areas as barriers but green attitudes as a facilitator while more affluent people purchase organic milk. What is new from our work is that convenience stores have a negative influence and for organic milk, older families and those aged 25–44 years have a positive influence. Crucially, we identify clear differences between purchasing behaviors regarding niche and mainstream products in our analysis: while purchases of organic milk can be predicted by a wide range of sociodemographic factors, this is not the case for free-range eggs. Here, besides price and green attitudes, there are no other influences on behavior. The results of our study can therefore provide fresh insight into the debate around recent attempts to mainstream sustainable product consumption.

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