UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY’S HAAS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS — If you purchased a Toyota Prius, you may have been driven by the desire to conserve the environment or to save yourself some money at the gas pump. But consumers may also choose to buy sustainable products to make themselves appear socially responsible to others. Before making purchases, they evaluate how their decisions will stack up against their peers’, according to a new study.

The study, “Social Responsibility and Product Innovation,” forthcoming in Marketing Science, examines how understanding this phenomenon, known as “conspicuous conservation,” may help leading companies shape their product innovation strategies, especially in ubiquitous product categories such as cars.

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