The Hidden Value of Going Green
Why do we care about green products and services? Are we protecting the environment or our face?
By Fang Ying, Senior Writer, China Business Knowledge @ CUHK
As more people are becoming aware of the importance of environmental protection, more people are supporting green products and services. This is also true in tourism where green hotels are becoming popular among travelers. Travelers who are keen to protect the environment will be willing to find eco-friendly hotels to stay in.
We seldom question others or ourselves the motive behind our support for green living. We’d like to think that we’re doing it for the good cause – protecting the environment. However, a recent study conducted by Prof. Lisa Wan took a deeper look and found that face concern has something to do with our perception of green hotels.
“Face concern is what we think of our social images in front of others. Our study aims to extend the hospitality green consumption to a domain of personal value,” says Prof. Wan, Assistant Professor at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, and Director of Center for Hospitality and Real Estate Research of CUHK Business School.
The study invited two hundred female members of an online apparel shopping community in mainland China to participate. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning their opinions, perceived quality and purchase behavior toward green hotel brands.
They were all requested to answer the following three items to measure their perceptions on green hotel brands on a 7-point scale (1=very poor; 7=very good):
- I perceive the quality of a green hotel brand is…
- I perceive the quality of a hotel which involves in energy saving is…
- I perceive the quality of a hotel which has environmentally sound practices is…
At the same time, they were asked to rate six statements measuring their face concern:
- I care about praise and criticism from others
- I care about others’ attitudes toward me
- I hate being taken lightly
- I will be very angry if other are impolite to me
- I will be very happy if I am treated with respect
- I will be very upset if I am criticized in public
In terms of purchase intention, they were asked two questions: “Do you agree that you like to choose a green hotel over a regular hotel?”; “Do you agree that you like to recommend a green hotel over a regular hotel to your relatives or friends?”, and rated them on a scale (1=strongly disagree; 7=strongly agree).
“People with higher social status are evaluated by others with a higher social standard, so they have a greater need to maintain their faces in different occasions.”
As predicted, the results found a face concern effect on perceived quality and purchase intention toward a green hotel brand. To be specific, face concern can lead to a higher perceived quality toward a green hotel brand, and exerts a positive influence on consumers’ purchase intentions.
“Our findings indicate that face concern can moderate a customer’s view toward a green hotel brand in terms of perceived quality and purchase intentions,” says Prof. Wan. “The higher the face concern, the greater the positive effect of a green hotel brands.”
What’s more interesting is that a person’s perceived social status will affect his or her needs for face concern, the study reveals.
“People with higher social status are evaluated by others with a higher social standard, so they have a greater need to maintain their faces in different occasions,” she says.
As such, Prof. Wan suggests that marketers can leverage the link between face concern and the consumption of green brands in their campaigns.
“For instance, hotel managers can put more efforts into promoting their green initiatives to travelers with a higher face concern, who usually have a higher level of income and social status,” she says.
Given that Asian consumers in general are more concerned about face than westerners, Prof. Wan adds that the promotion of green branding initiatives should be more prominent in Asian markets.
“Marketers may strategically highlight the relationship between face enhancement and green brands in their messages, for example, with messages such as: ‘Proud to be a supporter of green initiatives!’
Given that face concern would be more pronounced in public than in private settings, she suggests that “future research can also explore public versus private consumption variable that may moderate the positive impact of face concern on consumer reactions to green brands.”
Wan, Lisa C.
Director, Centre for Hospitality and Real Estate Research