Car(ing) for our environment? : Consumer eco-innovation adoption and curtailment behaviors: The case of the alternative fuel vehicle

Abstract: Determinants influencing consumer eco-innovation adoption and green curtailment behaviors in a travel context are at the center of this thesis. Previous research on green consumer behavior has uncovered that internalized personal attitudinal factors such as values, beliefs, and norms are influential in determining mainly non-consumption and post-purchase behaviors. This thesis extends the understanding of a moral basis of green consumer behavior by exploring the influences of attitudinal factors on both car curtailment behaviors, and on consumer adoption of a high involvement eco-innovation – the alternative fuel vehicle. The integrated influences of innovation specific characteristics, car habits, knowledge and social norms, are also examined. Furthermore, differences between AFV adopters and non-adopters are explored, and the notion of consumers performing purchase and curtailment behaviors for different reasons is utilized in the development of nuanced profiles of three distinct consumer groups. Four studies, which build on two quantitative data collections on adopters and non-adopters of AFVs in Swe­den, are included in this thesis.In the first study, similarities and differences among adopters and non-adopters of AFVs, and the effects of attitudinal factors (values, beliefs, and norms), knowledge, and sociodemo­graphics on the adoption decision are analyzed. The results show that knowledge and personal norms are strong predictors of AFV adoption and that the VBN theory is applicable in this context. The main implication from the study is that high-involvement green purchase deci­sions, such as eco-innovation adoption, can be viewed as morally based.In the second study, a set of determinants influencing both curtailment of car use and willing­ness to adopt a less environmentally harmful vehicle are analyzed. Biospheric values, per­sonal proenvironmental norms, and car habit strength are found to influence both types of behaviors in different ways. The main implication from this study is that green purchase deci­sions and curtailment behaviors within a specific context are determined by partly different factors but personal norm is a strong predictor of both types of behaviors.The third study extends the findings from the previous one in segmenting consumers on cur­tailment behaviors and proenvironmental purchases. Three distinct types of consumers emerge from the data. The Non-greens are found to exhibit the lowest levels of green attitudes and behaviors, and the strongest car habits. The Curtailers are distinguished by performing primar­ily reductionist behaviors, and by being the most willing to reduce negative environ­mental impact of car use. The Ecovators are found to be the most inclined to purchase eco-innovations and also display the greenest values. The study shows that green consumers are a heterogeneous group that can be separated on the basis of green curtailment behaviors and proenvironmental purchase decisions, and that there seems to be no inherent contradiction in being an early adopter of new green technology (such as the AFV) and also having high levels of proenviron­mental values, beliefs, and norms.In the final study, innovation specific characteristics and consumer innovativeness factors are integrated with normative and attitudinal determinants influencing AFV adoption. The results show that personal and social norms, consumer novelty seeking, and four perceived innovation characteristics influence the adoption decision. Differences between AFV adopters’ and non-adopters’ ratings of AFV specific attributes are also analyzed. The contribution of this study is the integration of VBN theory and the DOI framework and the empirical conclusion that eco-innovations need to deliver on both traditional and proenvironmental attributes in order to be perceived as attractive by consumers.In sum, this thesis demonstrates the importance of proenvironmental personal norms for consumer adoption of a high involvement eco-innovation such as the AFV.