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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

“This product is ecological!” An examination of consumers’ reactions to unsubstantiated marketing claims

Published: May 28, 2019


Magnus Söderlund, Stockholm School of Economics; Jan Mattsson, Roskilde University


claims; beliefs; ecological


Marketers are often claiming that products are “green”, “organic”, and “ecological” without backing this up with official, certifying labels or by other evidence. The effects of this practice were examined in the present study for ingestible products (water and beer) and non-ingestible products (sunglasses and boots) with a set of between-subjects experiments. The presence versus the absence of an (unsubstantiated) ecological claim was the manipulated factor. The purpose was to examine the impact of ecological claims on beliefs that a product is indeed ecological, on beliefs about related product attributes (environmental friendliness, healthiness, and naturalness), and on overall product evaluations in terms of the attitude towards the product. The main finding, in each experiment, was that the participants believed to a greater extent that a product is ecological when this is claimed, thus showing that beliefs can be influenced easily.