Symbols of Sustainability : A cross-cultural study on consumers perceived symbolic benefits of energy efficient home appliances
Sustainability is a growing trend and companies are increasingly engaging sustainability in their core business strategy. One example of how this is manifested is through the development of products that are labelled as energy-efficient. There is a lack of insights into how consumers perceive and gain benefits from such sustainable products, particularly so regarding the nonfunctional and non-economical benefits and into how culture influences those benefits. The purpose of this study is to investigate consumer perceived non-functional and non-economical benefits that are associated with energy-efficient products, in order to gain a deeper understanding on how the Swedish compared to the Thai culture influence consumers perception of energy efficient products within the home appliance industry. The literature review regarding the symbolic meaning of products concludes that the most relevant perceived benefits of products includes emotional-, self-expressiveness-, and social benefits. A cross-cultural quantitative study performed in Sweden and Thailand determines that culture influences consumers understanding of products and thereby influence their perceived benefit from energyefficient home appliances. How culture influences consumer perceived benefits depends on the characteristics of the different cultural dimensions established by Hofstede (2010), involving: power distance, masculinity, individualism, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation.
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