9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Sustainable Consumer Activities Building II, C5.02

Going Hybrid: An Analysis of Consumer Purchase Motivations

What makes consumers adopt sustainable innovations? The uptake of pro-environmental products and technologies is of importance, particularly at the moment, when climate change, diminishing energy resources and energy security are serious issues. This paper reports on the case study of the Toyota Prius, a green innovation that has been in the market for the last 10 years, and investigates what factors influence and encourage consumers to purchase a Prius. Our approach to innovation uptake is a unique one: we use not only the existing innovation adoption-diffusion models, which are based on rational and cognitive behaviour, but also contextual perspectives from the sociology of consumption. When consumers decide to adopt an innovation, they consider not only functionality, usability, costs and intended outcomes, but also what the innovation means to them, for example, the way it reflects their identity, image, memberships, values and norms. In order to understand consumer perceptions of the Prius and their daily contexts such as driving-related routines and behaviours, a questionnaire survey was conducted. The questionnaire was developed based on a review of the existing literature on innovation adoption/consumption and hybrid car purchases, and from the results of informal discussion with Toyota dealers. The survey yielded over 1500 respondents in February 2009, and statistical tests were conducted to identify a motivation structure and relationships between different purchase motives and purchaser contexts.