Consumer attitudes towards sustainability and sustainable business: an exploratory study of New Zealand consumers

The concept of sustainability has undergone considerable discussion and analysis by the academic, commercial and legislative communities since it first rose to prominence with the publication of the Brundtland Report in 1987. From that debate and assessment has developed widespread acceptance of the importance of living and working sustainably, and as a result, it is rapidly becoming one of the most influential drivers of contemporary business planning. It could be readily argued that business, political and academic leaders are in concordance on the subject, yet there has been very little attention paid to how consumers respond to sustainability. Understanding consumer attitudes towards sustainable business practices is of major importance because it is them, the consumers, that will ultimately make the decisions and engage in the activities that lead to sustainability. Without their engagement, any attempts to achieve sustainable commercial activities will struggle to succeed, therefore understanding how they perceive and respond to sustainability as a concept is of considerable importance. This study sought to fulfil that need through the analysis of how a sample of consumers responded to sustainability as a holistic concept and identified that while there is some awareness of and commitment to both social and environmental sustainability, when it comes to economic sustainability there is much less certainty. From this, a number of potentially valuable future-research opportunities have been identified
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