Sustainability by Default - Nudging Sustainable Product Choices in Customer Customization
Sustainable consumption is a topic of growing importance in today’s society, but although consumers generally consider sustainability as important, sustainable consumption is still quite low. Therefore, it would be beneficial for our society and easy for organizations if it would be possible to nudge consumers into choosing the sustainable option more often by just designing the choice architecture of a buying situation in a particular way. The aim of this study was to investigate whether it is possible to nudge consumers into choosing the sustainable option more often by designing the choice architecture of the customization tool in a particular way. More specific, selecting the more sustainable option by default and placing the more sustainable option on the dominant side of consumers, thereby following their mental representation. This gives managers the means to persuade their consumers to choose the more sustainable option more often and therefore, contribute to increase sustainable consumption in society as a whole. An online experiment was done among 216 students at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Results indicated that none of the manipulative versions were significant. People do not choose the sustainable option more often when it is the default, nor when it is placed on their dominant side, nor when it is both the default and placed on the dominant side. General interest in sustainability does have a positive influence on the number of times the sustainable option is chosen. Therefore, organizations should include information about the sustainability of various options in their customization tool to increase sustainable consumption. The discussion indicates that the default might not be interpreted in a way that has an impact on the decision making process. It appears that best way to ensure a realistic interpretation is to test the default in the field, thus a real customization tool instead of an experimental design which is part of an academic study. However, there is also a possibility that the default is not that effective in the customization setting in general as consumers already put in the extra effort to design a product themselves, while the default is powerful due to the fact that it is the option with the least effort. Furthermore, it appears that the dominant side is only used as indicator for valence when there are no other (rational or emotional) aspects to base the choice on. Therefore, aligning options with consumer’s dominant side will probably not be an effective nudge in customer customization.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen