The development of a theoretical model to investigate factors associated with environmentally significant choice behaviour in the South African major household appliance market: An integrative conceptual approach

  • NC Sonnenberg
  • AC Erasmus


The South African major household appliance sector has shown significant growth in recent years as more previously disadvantaged consumers gain spending power and access to electricity supply. The 2008 energy crisis, which had a significant impact on the local economy was, however, a stark reminder that energy resources are not unlimited. Informational campaigns have since underscored the role of households, and in particular their use of appliances, in alleviating the pressure imposed on the country’s energy supply. However, in addition to energy consumption, major household appliances have several other environmental implications throughout the lifespan of the product, which require sensitizing consumers toward the impact of their choices. Many of the appliances sold within the South African context are imported and have energy ratings and eco-friendly features that comply with European standards. Whether South African consumers consider these features in their choice of appliances is, however, debatable. To date, empirical evidence remains limited and there is an urgent need to gain a better understanding of factors that may lead to more environmentally significant choice behaviour in emerging markets. Abroad, progress has been made in developing theoretical approaches and specifying the determinants of pro-environmental consumer behaviour, which may benefit research in the local context. Yet, it is also necessary to acknowledge that South Africa, similar to other emerging markets, has diverse consumer populations, which necessitates an integrative multi-dimensional approach that addresses underlying motivational constructs, situational forces and cognitive capabilities of consumers, to explicate the complexities of pro-environmental action in an emerging market context. Based on a review and critical assessment of existing theoretical insights and models, this paper proposes an integrative conceptual approach for investigation of the South African consumers’ contextual reality, including both the facilitating opportunities and constraints that may inhibit or promote environmentally significant choice behavior in the major household appliance market.


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eISSN: 0378-5254