The many aspects of voluntary sustainability governance: Unpacking consumers’ support for tea standards in China and the UK

Sarah Iweala, Yixian Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Voluntary standards have become a promising mode of governance to promote sustainable production and consumption in global value chains. Despite a growing number of studies on consumers' preferences for sustainable products, insufficient attention has been paid to the heterogeneity of existing standard systems, which prioritize different issues (e.g., environment, labor, and health), have different origins and sponsors, imply different costs and stringency. How do these features affect consumer support across market contexts? By conducting a choice-based conjoint experiment with tea drinkers in China and the UK (N = 1823), we find that consumer support for sustainable tea standards in both countries is primarily driven by food safety concerns, to a lesser extent by concerns of environmental and labor issues. Moreover, Chinese consumers support highly stringent standards only, whereas British consumers also accept medium-level standards. Standard sponsor and origin matter for consumers in China only who favor government-designed, international standards. Consumers’ preferences for key standard features are associated with individual values, the warm glow of giving, and sustainability concerns but such relationships vary in the two markets. Our findings have important implications for scaling-up sustainability standards in both emerging and developed markets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100080
JournalCleaner and Responsible Consumption
Early online date26 Sep 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sep 2022


  • Environmental standards
  • Labor standards
  • Multi-tier labels
  • Organic
  • Sustainable consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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