Sustainable bottled water : How nudging and Internet Search affect consumers’ choices

Grebitus, Carola; Roscoe, Rod D.; Loo, Ellen J. Van; Kula, Irfan


This study examined differences in consumer preferences and willingness to pay for sustainable bottled water based on pro-environmental guidance, Internet information search, and research setting (i.e., laboratory or online). Specifically, we investigated willingness to pay for bottled water produced with plant-based plastics and post-consumer waste plastics. Insight into willingness to pay (i.e., preferences and acceptance) for novel plastics is valuable given the potential impact of such materials regarding cleaner production of food and non-food products. Results from mixed logit models showed that searching for information increased the likelihood that consumers would choose sustainable plastic water bottles over less sustainable options, and the effect was magnified when consumers were primed to make environmentally friendly choices. Findings also revealed a considerable amount of preference heterogeneity with regard to the type of water product or type of plastic used to manufacture the bottles. Similar results were reflected in the willingness to pay. In addition, preference and willingness to pay were generally higher in the lab setting compared to the online setting. Overall, pro-environmental guidance can nudge individuals towards making more sustainable choices even if it comes at a higher cost. For stakeholders and policy makers with interests in the beverage industry, observed findings can inform recommendations for facilitating more sustainable consumer behavior.