From Lancaster’s point of view, consumers view goods as a
bundle of different product characteristics: search, experience and
credence attributes. There often is information asymmetry with
regard to these attributes, i.e. information is unevenly distributed
between buyers and sellers. Depending on the kinds of different
product characteristics and the transaction frequency of relevant
products, information asymmetry can be overcome in different ways.
Signalling by firms or third-party labelling institutions, and
screening by consumers are two ways of addressing the issue of
information asymmetry. This study focuses on intangible product
characteristics which especially depend on appropriate product
information (signals like brands, labels). Brands and labels fulfil
two main functions for consumers: they inform consumers about
intangible product characteristics (information function, e.g.
quality) and provide a value in itself (value function, e.g.
Within this project on behalf of the Swiss Federal Energy Agency (Bundesamt für Energie), we are conducting an empirical survey involving a total of 600 choice-based conjoint interviews conducted in Switzerland in Spring 2004. Choice-based conjoint analysis (related to Conjoint analysis) is a widely used methodology in market research and reveals the relative importance of various product attributes in customers’ purchasing decisions in a very realistic setting. Our survey covers three different product categories, namely light bulbs, washing machines, and cars. The European energy efficiency label is used for all these products, and our study investigates the relative importance of this eco-label compared to other product features (like brand name) in consumers’ purchasing decisions. The results include a discussion of differences between the three product categories as well as between different consumer segments. Conclusions for sustainability-oriented marketing and policy strategies have been drawn.
Information asymmetry, consumer behaviour, eco-labelling, conjoint analysis, discrete choice
|Auftraggeber||Bundesamt für Energie [Swiss Federal Office of Energy]|
Betriebswirtschaftslehre, Öko-Labelling, Energie,
Conjoint Analyse, Discrete Choice, empirische Sozialforschung,