University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


In effort to enhance sustainable development, manufacturers and retailers have collaborated to develop a standardized sustainability index based on supply chain life cycle information. However, it is unclear whether this index will help consumers make more sustainable purchases. Research conducted in a retail laboratory addresses consumer attitudes, purchase intentions, and product choices with and without a credible standardized sustainability index, and with or without provision of background sustainability information. Results from a pilot study and two mixed design experiments indicate that, on average, consumers focus more on brand equity than on sustainability levels when they make brand choices. While the disclosure of credible information for brands within a product category affects brand-level sustainability perceptions, there are limited effects on brand purchase intentions and choices. Results also reveal a consumer misconception that nationally recognized brands are more sustainable. Implications of results are offered for producers, retailers, and public policy makers.