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the marketing mix and price of products

Behavourial biases are an important variable influencing consumption as people may not behave “rationally” when making purchasing and lifestyle decisions. Biases can stem from habits and customs, susceptibility to advertising and product promotions, brand loyalties, risk aversions, and peer pressures, among other factors. Successful sustainable consumption approaches try to make biases work towards sustainable choices (OECD, 2006c). Governments can use a segmentation approach to capture what motivates consumers and use communications campaigns as part of the overall package. For example, some consumers may have biases against items manufactured from recycled materials because of concerns about reliability and performance. The word “waste” has a negative connotation and may lead consumers to associate terms such as wastepaper or waste oils with risky or inferior products. There may be fears that recycled paper will jam printers and photocopiers, or that re-refined oils will damage their vehicle UNDERSTANDING CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR – 47 PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION: GOOD PRACTICES IN OECD COUNTRIES – © OECD 2008 engines, even when equivalent in quality and lower in price. Although retreaded tires are up to 50% less expensive than new tires, the price difference often does not overcome fears of a blow-out, however small the risk. Here, communications campaigns on the quality of recycled products coupled with performance-based product standards could overcome risk aversions . Consumption is also a way of expressing status and identity, causing consumers to be very conscious of how their purchases look to others. Consumers may be “locked in” to unsustainable patterns of consumption by social norms or peer pressures which dictate more and higher-priced goods. However, many consumers in OECD countries are becoming environmentally and socially conscious and want to demonstrate this to their peers.