Cookies & Quinoa: the effect of green shopping bags

Posted by Oliver Koll on Jul 12, 2016

bagGreen (reusable) shopping bags not only offer peace of mind, but also influence consumer in-store behaviour. An analysis of 936,232 purchases by 5,987 US households across two years shows that shoppers who brought their own bags chose significantly more organic products but also more indulgence products than those who did not. The rationale behind this pattern: Consumers who take initiative by bringing their own bags  feel more deserving and less guilty about choosing cookies or crisps. However, the green shopping bag also increases how much these consumers spend on organic products.

The ‘treat’ motivation decreases when a) these consumers have children, b) store policy forces them to bring reusable bags or c) shoppers are directly confronted with the price of the unhealthy choice. Retailers should be aware that bringing one own’s shopping bag results in higher average expenditure per trip. Smart store layout (e.g. positioning inexpensive environmentally friendly products at the check-out) could enhance such behaviours.

Karmarkar, U. R., & Bollinger, B. (2015). BYOB: How Bringing Your Own Shopping Bags Leads to Treating Yourself and the Environment. Journal of Marketing, 79(4), 1-15.