Understanding International Sustainability

A team of people doing a beach clean up

Understanding International Sustainability: The Role of Consumers

The Challenge

Can individual consumers play a more influential role towards sustainability within the international agenda of climate change?

Most people live in a society influenced by consumerism and materialism. However, whilst many consumers are aware of sustainability issues, their attitudes and consumption behaviours are not always in alignment to each other.

A male student vegan shopping

The Method

Sustainability is a global issue which requires rigor and creativity in research design. Dr Anita Zhao combined quantitative and qualitative methods to develop insights into the role of the consumer in understanding international sustainability. Through collecting data on sustainable behaviour issues within international markets including Europe and China, Anita could explore rich data which reflected different cultural backgrounds, marketplaces and decision-making. Such insight has been key to understanding consumers and the impact of their consumption decisions on sustainability across different cultural backgrounds and marketplaces.

In collaborating with leading academics and experts nationally and internationally, Dr Zhao has collated further insight to advance the understanding of sustainability across markets, regions and nations.  

The Impact

Dr Zhao’s research revealed that marketing can play a more critical role in contributing to the agenda of sustainable consumption. Advancing our current understanding of sustainable consumption has important implications for marketers (in terms of green products/ service offerings and practices) but also for policy makers through appropriate legislation and regulation. This further reveals that tackling sustainability is not solely a global agenda for nations, government and businesses; but also for individuals in the society.

Dr Zhao’s research into the role of individual consumers within international sustainability has been shared across both academic and business outlets. Within Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Consumer Behaviour and Journal of Macromarketing.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Swansea University Research Themes