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Consumer understanding of green symbols on beverage packaging and its influence on green behaviour.

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Climate change is no longer an idealistic but rather a critical reality faced by people worldwide with severe and urgent forecasts for the future. It is all very well for marketers to go green and implement green marketing initiatives such as the placement of green symbols on packaging; however, for sustainability to be achieved, consumers need to behave in a green manner. The purpose of this research was to evaluate consumer understanding of green symbols on beverage packaging and determine the implications for green behaviour. The study makes a practical contribution as it will assist marketers to understand what aspects of their green labelling communication influences consumers’ buying behaviour Theory contributions of this study are in understanding the role that knowledge plays in terms of behaviour and understanding the content of that knowledge. The study applied a cross-sectional descriptive research design and adopted a quantitative approach. Data was collected through an online questionnaire sent through Facebook, applying snowball mom-probability sampling resulting in 325 participants. Findings reveal that although about half of the respondents buy non-alcoholic beverage products that can be reused or recycled, behaviour to purchase products with green symbols is low. While non-alcoholic beverages are frequently bought, only about a third of respondents look for green symbols when making this purchase. Consumer knowledge of green symbols, attitudes toward green symbols, and the level of confidence consumers have in green symbols, has a positive impact on green behaviour. Moreover, consumer demographic factors affect attitudes and behaviour relating to green symbols on beverage packaging. Recommendations for marketers and government are to try and increase consumers’ level of knowledge of green symbols by establishing educational programs. Recommendations for future research are to use a probability sampling technique for better generalization of findings, and research how environmental studies are incorporated in educational institutions at all educational levels.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.