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Consumer behaviour and sustainability issues: trends in the marketing field
There is a growing interest in ways to reduce the impacts of the current consumption and production systems in order to achieve sustainable development and moving towards circular economy. One significant way of meeting such calls involves changes in consumer habits. Many areas (e.g., marketing, psychology) have studied ways to encourage individuals to pursue more sustainable behaviours. However, the theoretical perspectives from the marketing field that analyse and describe sustainable consumption practices are underdeveloped. Therefore, a comprehensive review of published scientific articles on consumer behaviour and sustainability, specifically in the marketing field, is currently lacking, calling for such a review to be conducted. Hence, the purpose of this study is twofold. First, the intention is to scrutinize publications within consumer behaviour and sustainability issues in the marketing field to review, categorize, and evaluate the related articles, providing a systematic view of past work and an appropriate vision for future research. Second, we provide main considerations about the studies and main trends found in the articles, where researchers and public policy-makers should give attention in order to have an overview of what the marketing field have studied about sustainability and consumer behaviour. This study was conducted to present a state-of-the-science review of research on these topics. From a systematic review, we analysed and coded 31 articles (conceptual and empirical). Based on the JCR index, five top-tier marketing journals were selected from the last 6 years. Data were categorized with the aggregated dimensions, based on the main themes found in the studies: barriers to sustainable choice, CSR initiatives, ethical behaviour, healthy food products, organic food purchase, nutrition information, green claims and communication, and product labelling. Results show that studies tend to focus on CSR initiatives, specially in the purchasing phase of consumption. The studies also point to the importance of communication strategies in trying to change consumer behaviour toward sustainability. Moreover, a different trend that emerged is the study of food-related behaviours. Some aforementioned studies have food choice as their main object of analysis and the articles categorized in the organic food purchase and healthy food products discuss how to increase the purchase of healthy food products. Studies did not focus on only one dimension of sustainability. In a recent past, the environmental dimension was the mainstream rather than economic, social, and ethical dimensions. However, this review shows the opposite: studies are balanced across economic, social, and ethical dimensions. Finally, the great majority of the studies analysed consumer decision-making during purchase behaviour and evaluations of alternatives. The lack of studies in the phases of need recognition, post-purchase evaluation, and disposal shows the importance of future studies focus on these behaviours. It intrigues that no study analysed disposal behaviour, specially in the area of sustainability, where ideas of circular economy are gaining strength both in academia and in the practice of companies and governments. Therefore, future studies focusing on circular economy would benefit from exploring sustainable behaviours consumption related to post-purchase and acceptance of products using new materials emerging from that cycle.