Image, not environmentalism: a qualitative exploration of factors influencing vehicle purchasing decisions

Rebecca Hafner, Ian Walker, Bas Verplanken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 1 Citations

Abstract

Previous quantitative research has suggested people take environmental impact into account when choosing cars, and are largely uninfluenced by issues of image. However, neither of these claims appears to reflect current car buying behaviour in the UK. We hypothesized this may be due to the nature of the questions typically used in earlier research, which may have prompted participants to consider environmental issues, and downplay the role of image, more than they would spontaneously. The current research provides a qualitative exploration of factors important to people when deciding which car to buy. Open-ended discussion with recent car-buyers revealed the factors which were most important during the participants’ decision making processes, without prompting participants to agree with ideas raised by the experimenter. These issues were explored in two studies, using a series of focus groups (Study 1), and one-on-one interviews (Study 2). In both studies, the two most central factors were issues of practicality and finance, consistent with previous research. However, unlike in previous research, both studies found image had substantial impact on purchasing decisions. Further, earlier explicit surveys claimed people often considered environmental factors when choosing a vehicle, yet these were hardly mentioned in the current studies. This highlights the importance of using a range of research methods when studying personal travel decisions. Key areas for follow-up research and implications for policy makers aiming to increase uptake sales of low-carbon cars are discussed.
LanguageEnglish
Pages89-105
JournalTransportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice
Volume97
Early online date25 Jan 2017
DOIs
StatusPublished - Mar 2017

Fingerprint

Purchasing
Railroad cars
buying behavior
decision making process
quantitative research
study group
sales
research method
environmental factors
environmental impact
finance
Finance
travel
Environmentalism
Influencing factors
Car
Environmental impact
Sales
Decision making
interview

Cite this

@article{cdcb5f3f6caa4d4e813b370116b2fc7c,
title = "Image, not environmentalism: a qualitative exploration of factors influencing vehicle purchasing decisions",
abstract = "Previous quantitative research has suggested people take environmental impact into account when choosing cars, and are largely uninfluenced by issues of image. However, neither of these claims appears to reflect current car buying behaviour in the UK. We hypothesized this may be due to the nature of the questions typically used in earlier research, which may have prompted participants to consider environmental issues, and downplay the role of image, more than they would spontaneously. The current research provides a qualitative exploration of factors important to people when deciding which car to buy. Open-ended discussion with recent car-buyers revealed the factors which were most important during the participants’ decision making processes, without prompting participants to agree with ideas raised by the experimenter. These issues were explored in two studies, using a series of focus groups (Study 1), and one-on-one interviews (Study 2). In both studies, the two most central factors were issues of practicality and finance, consistent with previous research. However, unlike in previous research, both studies found image had substantial impact on purchasing decisions. Further, earlier explicit surveys claimed people often considered environmental factors when choosing a vehicle, yet these were hardly mentioned in the current studies. This highlights the importance of using a range of research methods when studying personal travel decisions. Key areas for follow-up research and implications for policy makers aiming to increase uptake sales of low-carbon cars are discussed.",
author = "Rebecca Hafner and Ian Walker and Bas Verplanken",
year = "2017",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1016/j.tra.2017.01.012",
language = "English",
volume = "97",
pages = "89--105",
journal = "Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice",
issn = "0965-8564",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Image, not environmentalism

T2 - Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice

AU - Hafner,Rebecca

AU - Walker,Ian

AU - Verplanken,Bas

PY - 2017/3

Y1 - 2017/3

N2 - Previous quantitative research has suggested people take environmental impact into account when choosing cars, and are largely uninfluenced by issues of image. However, neither of these claims appears to reflect current car buying behaviour in the UK. We hypothesized this may be due to the nature of the questions typically used in earlier research, which may have prompted participants to consider environmental issues, and downplay the role of image, more than they would spontaneously. The current research provides a qualitative exploration of factors important to people when deciding which car to buy. Open-ended discussion with recent car-buyers revealed the factors which were most important during the participants’ decision making processes, without prompting participants to agree with ideas raised by the experimenter. These issues were explored in two studies, using a series of focus groups (Study 1), and one-on-one interviews (Study 2). In both studies, the two most central factors were issues of practicality and finance, consistent with previous research. However, unlike in previous research, both studies found image had substantial impact on purchasing decisions. Further, earlier explicit surveys claimed people often considered environmental factors when choosing a vehicle, yet these were hardly mentioned in the current studies. This highlights the importance of using a range of research methods when studying personal travel decisions. Key areas for follow-up research and implications for policy makers aiming to increase uptake sales of low-carbon cars are discussed.

AB - Previous quantitative research has suggested people take environmental impact into account when choosing cars, and are largely uninfluenced by issues of image. However, neither of these claims appears to reflect current car buying behaviour in the UK. We hypothesized this may be due to the nature of the questions typically used in earlier research, which may have prompted participants to consider environmental issues, and downplay the role of image, more than they would spontaneously. The current research provides a qualitative exploration of factors important to people when deciding which car to buy. Open-ended discussion with recent car-buyers revealed the factors which were most important during the participants’ decision making processes, without prompting participants to agree with ideas raised by the experimenter. These issues were explored in two studies, using a series of focus groups (Study 1), and one-on-one interviews (Study 2). In both studies, the two most central factors were issues of practicality and finance, consistent with previous research. However, unlike in previous research, both studies found image had substantial impact on purchasing decisions. Further, earlier explicit surveys claimed people often considered environmental factors when choosing a vehicle, yet these were hardly mentioned in the current studies. This highlights the importance of using a range of research methods when studying personal travel decisions. Key areas for follow-up research and implications for policy makers aiming to increase uptake sales of low-carbon cars are discussed.

UR - http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2017.01.012

U2 - 10.1016/j.tra.2017.01.012

DO - 10.1016/j.tra.2017.01.012

M3 - Article

VL - 97

SP - 89

EP - 105

JO - Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice

JF - Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice

SN - 0965-8564

ER -