Green Advertising and Corporate Identity: an Investigation of Consumer Views on Green Messages in Kenya
his study sought to explore the contribution of green advertising in the construction of corporate identity with a focus on the views of environmentally-informed consumers in Kenya. The study objectives were: to examine the environmentally-informed consumers‟ interpretation of green product advertising messages, to analyze the role of green product advertising messages in the consumers‟ purchase decisions, to investigate the contribution of green product advertising to the construction of corporate identity and to determine the purpose of green product advertising messages in Kenya. This study was informed by the Elaboration Likelihood Theory, the Corporate Identity Theory and The Communication Theory of Identity. Guided by the pragmatic paradigm, this study was based on an exploratory mixed method approach. A quantitative survey was conducted across three strata: undergraduate, masters and PhD students. The data was collected through in-depth interviews involving 16 informants drawn from Unilever-Kenya, Kapa Oil Refineries and Bidco Oil Company, the Competition Authority of Kenya and academic staff at the University of Nairobi. Two focus group discussions each comprising 6 participants were conducted. In the analysis and presentation of data, the convergent parallel design of data treatment was used. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and presented in form of frequency tables, cross tables and bar graphs while qualitative data was presented in narrative form. Results revealed that green messages among the environmentally-informed consumers do not have a clear universal meaning. Consumer purchase decisions were mainly influenced by health benefits and the price while the environmental impact of the product had little influence. Green messages were ambiguous and lacked elaboration hence difficult to understand. As a result, companies did not achieve a green identity through the messages. The study recommends that companies should move away from touting their products as green by mere use of green jargon and embrace a total green behavior in all their operations in order to build a credible green identity. There is need to integrate disciplines (such as environmental studies and communication) so as to facilitate practical solutions in the industry especially in addressing green issues. Key words: Green advertising, corporate identity, greenwashing, consumers, green consumerism, green messages.
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