What is it about?

The growing awareness on the unsustainability of current production and consumption patterns led to widespread consensus over the need to promote a shift in the paradigm capable of avoiding the detrimental impacts that current trajectories entail. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are expected to experience economic growth over the next years and decades which is likely to increase the footprint of communities living in the area, given more affluent production and consumption patterns. Gaining better understandings of the motives underpinning sustainable consumer behavior in the region hence assumes a strategic relevance, as a prerequisite for the effective implementation of environmental policies and institutional actions from local as well as international policymakers. Indeed, while most studies and reviews on the topic are based in western countries, it is plausible to infer that different social, economic, and cultural contexts follow (at least partially) different patterns.

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Why is it important?

Sustainable consumer behavior gained significant attention given the relevance it bears for a broad set of actors. Since most of the relevant literature is rooted in western countries, researchers and policymakers implicitly assume that behaviors in developing countries tend to replicate those in developed countries. Our systematic review paper, based on seventy-one articles published since 2000, questions such assumption by analyzing the empirical research on sustainable consumer behaviors in the MENA, a distinctive region that has been so far overlooked by mainstream research. Results reveal that most MENA-based papers are rooted in traditional frameworks of the rationalistic stream and that environmental values represent a key driver of sustainable consumer behavior, while habits and socio-demographics are relegated to a negligible role. This study provides an added value by synthesizing the fragmented evidence on the topic and discussing aspects emerging as peculiar of the MENA and differentiating the latter from other societies.

Perspectives

Looking at sustainable consumer behaviors from a cultural lens is of particular importance to promoting sustainability on a wider scale. Future research should be fine-tuned from a methodological as well as from a theoretical standpoint, to provide policymakers and all interested parties with a more reliable overview on motivating and facilitating sustainable consumer behaviors.

Dr Sayed Elhoushy
Queen Mary University of London

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This page is a summary of: Factors Affecting Sustainable Consumer Behavior in the MENA Region: A Systematic Review, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, June 2020, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/08961530.2020.1781735.
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