Date of Award

12-2001

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Resource Economics and Policy

Advisor

Mario F. Teisl

Second Committee Member

Kathleen P. Bell

Third Committee Member

George K. Criner

Abstract

The recognition and acknowledgement of how personal purchasing decisions affect the environment may increase the desire to buy products advertised as "environmentally-friendly." Effective and credible advertising and marketing of products deemed ecologically sound, as well as, the specific environmental qualities embodied by such products presumably weighs on the effectiveness of environmentally conscious shopping. To that end, consumers are unable to fully utilize purchase power as a means of protecting the environment if they are unaware that such options exist. The public's apparent willingness to use its purchasing power as a means to protect the environment provides an opportunity for manufacturers and policy makers to benefit. Using a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population surveyed during the summer of 2000, I explore how the disclosure of different environmental attributes impact consumer choices of environmentally labeled wood products. My analysis is differentiated so that consumer choices and values are analyzed with respect to differences in 1) the amount of information the individual receives regarding the environmental labeling criteria, 2) the organization monitoring compliance with environmental labeling criteria and 3) individual characteristics (i.e. demographics, such as age and education, as well as, measures of exposure to the forest resource through work and play). We specifically examine whether exposure to the forest environment through employment, forestland ownership, and leisure pursuits, such as forest-based recreation participation, contributes to pro-environmental purchasing behavior and enhanced values for environmentally preferred forest management attributes. It was found that the environmental attributes of an environmentally labeled wood product are significant to the purchase decision. In addition to the level of information provided on environmental labels themselves, supplementary advertising campaigns and marketing initiatives may enhance understanding of a product's environmental friendliness. Furthermore, because environmental management claims are not readily verifiable by consumers, the purchase decision becomes largely one of faith, to which the credibility of the certifying organization is found to be an important contributing factor. The analysis provides important information for policy makers and firms. An examination of the levels of environmental information provided and its influence on consumer choices of environmentally labeled wood products provides the information necessary to maximize a firm's marketing effectiveness. The relationship between valuation and levels of environmental attributes is significant to both policy makers and firms in that it provides guidelines for possible certification criteria. Varying certifying agencies responsible for the environmental labeling of wood products provides information regarding the perceived credibility of particular agencies and the marketability of products certified by such agencies. The examination of the relationship between independent consumer characteristics and pro-environmental purchasing preferences is important for several reasons. A consumer profile may be provided by associating demographic characteristics, such as education, with valuation of environmentally labeled wood products. Furthermore, higher valuation of environmentally labeled wood products by individuals with higher levels of exposure to the resource through employment and leisure-time pursuits may imply that those individuals are more likely than their counter-parts to be environmentally concerned and engage in pro-environmental behaviors.

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