Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Amy Tomas, PhD


marketing, sustainable products, purchase behavior, sustainability


Companies are facing significant issues convincing consumers to purchase sustainable products. Previous research shows that the key influences towards purchase behavior for environmentally-friendly products are social factors, sustainable knowledge, product quality, and product price. However, the research investigating this issue specifically for the young, college educated consumers (YCEC) demographic is limited and somewhat conflicting. The purpose of this study is to understand consumer purchase behavior for sustainable products in a population of YCEC pursuing an undergraduate degree in business administration. In this context, sustainable products are defined as products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal. To investigate this issue, mini focus groups of 5-6 participants were asked open-ended questions about their sustainable product purchase behavior, including one warm up question and nine specific questions pertaining to the study. The results showed that the main barriers preventing more sustainable purchase decisions for YCEC are price, product quality, and lack of awareness, with price being strongly viewed as the most important factor. Additionally, it was found that YCEC often find it difficult to trust companies’ marketing about sustainability, and think that sustainability knowledge and motivation do not necessarily lead to actual purchase behavior. These results should be taken into consideration when designing future studies or creating marketing campaigns for sustainable products targeted at college student consumers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.