Truthful green or deceptive dark? Consumers' perceptions of language type in sustainability claims. An examination of the effect of language type used in sustainability claims on consumers' perceived greenwashing and purchase intention

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This research builds on previous research that found a relationship between language type used in sustainability claims and stakeholders’ perceptions of the firm which was moderated by expertise. Whereas previous research focused on non-market stakeholders, this study focused on consumer perceptions. Two different types of language in sustainability claims were presented to consumers to examine whether a different language type has an effect on perceived greenwashing and whether this would indirectly have an effect on their purchase intention. An experiment was conducted with 209 participants. The results of the ANCOVA demonstrated that consumers’ perception of greenwashing was not affected by language type and that green expertise did not fungate as a moderator. However, the results of the regression analysis revealed that perceived greenwashing affects purchase intention. Consumers who perceive greenwashing have a lower purchase intention than consumers who do not perceive greenwashing. Therefore, managers should be aware of the perception of consumers and make sure that their sustainability claims do not reflect greenwashing. The limitations of the study exist mainly in scenario building. Suggestions for further research are to make a standardized manipulation and manipulation check.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen