UBC Undergraduate Research

Going for Woke Not Broke : Impacts of Sustainability Menu Attributes on Student Willingness-to-Pay Geara, Hana; Hassan, Muna; Havreluck, Leanna; Mykyta, Morgan; Polite, Lowell; Wart, Katelyn


As discussions on climate change and ways to reduce society’s ecological footprint become more recurrent, people are having debates on how food is produced and consumed, resulting in many advocating for more sustainable alternatives. Unfortunately, sustainable modes of production are often more expensive, resulting in pricier products overall. The study hypothesizes that the need for more environmentally friendly products, however, will increase people's willingness to pay for a sustainably labeled product compared to a conventional item. Using data obtained from a survey taken primarily by UBC undergraduate students (N= 77), a significant difference in participants willingness to pay between the control variables (unlabeled conventional product) and the manipulated variables (labeled with either sustainable, organic, or local) across all conditions (burger, southwest bowl, and poutine) was found. This suggests that people are willing to pay more for items marketed with environmentally friendly buzzwords compared to conventional products, with the majority of participants willing to spend an extra 1-2 dollars for a more sustainable product. Limitations of this study include low sample size, strong demand characteristics, and low ecological validity. Results imply that using ecological buzzwords in descriptions would increase students' WTP for menu items and may lead to more funding for future sustainability initiatives. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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