Antecedents of green purchase behaviour amongst black Generation Y students
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Green marketing is now recognised amongst academics as a reputable area of study and conventional marketing has taken a step back as green marketing comes into prominence in the fight against unsustainability. A number of organisations are using green marketing as a tool to differentiate their market offerings from those of their competitors in an effort to gain a strong position in today’s markets. These organisations are seeking to exploit consumers‟ growing environmental concerns and increasing green purchase intentions in order to acquire market share in the newly developed green consumer markets. The Generation Y cohort, born between 1986 and 2005, are the most technologically astute generation to date. When segmenting the Generation Y cohort, the black Africans hold the majority share, comprising 84 percent of the Generation Y cohort and approximately 32 percent of the entire South African population. Owing to its sheer size, the black Generation Y cohort presents as an attractive and lucrative market segment, especially those who hold a tertiary education. Individuals who pursue a higher education are linked to higher future earning potential. The primary objective of this study was to propose and empirically test a model of the antecedents of black Generation Y students‟ green purchase behaviour within the South African context. The proposed model suggests that environmental knowledge, subjective norms, and perceived behaviour control have a direct positive influence on environmental attitude, which, in turn, has a direct positive influence on green purchase intentions. Moreover, the model infers that green purchase intensions have a direct positive influence on environmental purchase behaviour, while accounting for the mediating effects of perceived price (price) and perceived quality (quality). The sampling frame for the study comprised the 25 public registered HEIs situated in South Africa. From this initial list of 25 registered institutions, a judgement sample of four institutions in the Gauteng province was chosen, of which two included country-based universities and two city-based universities. Of the four universities, two were traditional universities, one a university of technology and one comprehensive university. Lecturers at each of the four campuses were contacted and asked if they would act as gatekeepers to the student participants. A convenience sample of 500 students across these four campuses was taken in 2014. Of the questionnaires completed, 332 were usable. The statistical analysis of the collected data included exploratory factor analysis, descriptive statistical analysis, correlation analysis, structural equation modelling and independent sample t-tests. The findings of this study indicate that South African black Generation Y students are knowledgeable about the environment, consider the opinions of their peers regarding the environment, perceive their actions as having a positive effect on the environment and display strong pro-environmental attitudes towards the environment. Moreover, they display positive intentions to purchase green products and aim to behave in a pro-environmental manner. The influence of green purchase intentions on green purchase behaviour is partially mediated by the perceived price and quality of green products. This may explain the noticeable gap between environmental awareness and lack of actual green product purchases. Environmental knowledge and perceived behaviour control had a significant direct effect on black Generation Y students‟ environmental attitude, which, in turn, has a significant direct influence on black Generation Y students‟ green purchase intentions. Similarly, subjective norms and environmental knowledge had a significant direct effect on green purchase intentions. This study contributes to developing the green consumer profile of the black Generation Y consumer in South Africa. Furthermore, the study will aid in identifying the green consumer behaviour patterns amongst the South African youth. This study offers a conceptual model that illustrates the antecedents of black Generation Y students‟ green purchasing behaviour. The findings of this study will be helpful to national and international marketers seeking to profile and target the lucrative green market segment in South Africa.