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Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour through green identity labelling


Promoting products for ‘green’ people has become an important strategy to encourage sustainable consumption. We test the effectiveness of the green identity labelling technique, which encourages pro-environmental purchases by associating them with an eco-friendly image. We conducted four experiments (online, laboratory and two field experiments) in which individuals could purchase green products that, in the treatment groups, were accompanied by a green identity label (for example, ‘this product is for green shoppers’). We find that the green identity labelling technique increases purchase of environmentally friendly products across the consumer settings examined in our experiments. We also examine factors that can moderate this effect. Green identity labels increase sales only if no price discount on the green product is advertised, and they have a bigger impact on people with demographics associated with pro-environmental values.

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Fig. 1: ‘My Store’ used in study 1 and study 2.
Fig. 2: Participants’ hypothetical choice of CFLs (study 1).
Fig. 3: Participants’ purchases of CFLs (study 2).
Fig. 4: Customers’ purchases of reusable bags (study 3).
Fig. 5: Subject lines of e-mails received by customers on a computer or mobile phone.

Data availability

All the data used in studies 1, 2 and 3 and the Stata codes for all studies are available from the corresponding author upon request. Because of a non-disclosure agreement, sample data for study 4 would require authorization by the company.


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We thank U. Simonsohn and seminar participants at ESADE, Universitat Ramon Lull, participants in the management seminar series at Pompeu Fabra University, and seminar participants at the SDS Department, Carnegie Mellon University, for helpful feedback on this project. We also thank J. Joo and J. Gonzalez for their collaboration in the implementation in the field studies. D.S. was supported by the ANID FONDECYT 1191745 and by the Complex Engineering Systems Institute (ANID APOYO/BASAL AFB180003).

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Authors and Affiliations



D.S. and G.L. conceived and designed the experiments; D.S. and L.A.-G. performed the experiments; D.S. analysed the data and L.A.-G. assisted in some studies; D.S., G.L. and L.A.-G. contributed materials/analysis tools; and D.S. and G.L. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Daniel Schwartz.

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Supplementary Information

List of variables collected and additional analyses for all studies.

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Schwartz, D., Loewenstein, G. & Agüero-Gaete, L. Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour through green identity labelling. Nat Sustain 3, 746–752 (2020).

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