Data that Corporations Collect about Consumer Behavior

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Resource consumption is a critical factor recognized by social scientists as contributing to environmental damage. It is also considered a major threat to the sustainability of the world’s environmental systems (Brown). It’s taken a century of research and data to convince the vast majority – even in the scientific community – that human activity can alter our entire planet’s climate (History). Now it is more evident and efforts are being made to address climate change and to transition to a clean energy economy.

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These efforts include reducing overconsumption of resources in the modernization of the electric grid, promoting clean energy technology solutions, conserving, protecting, preserving state lands and waters, and preparing the residents of North Carolina for “more frequent and intense hurricanes, flooding, extreme temperatures, droughts, saltwater intrusion, and beach erosion,” as stated in Executive Order No. 80. This order was signed on October 29, 2018, by our Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper.

In addition to the above, the Order suggests change and transition to a cleaner economy. Here, public-private partnerships foster market innovations and develop clean energy technology solutions (Executive). However, problems arise when finding ways to enable individuals to determine how their use of goods and services impacts resource depletion in order to maintain the integrity of the resource pool. Ultimately, programs and policies aimed at reducing consumption levels must influence consumers’ decisions (Brown). In this context, I propose promoting a pro-environmental ethic, fostering consciousness, and cooperation through the instillation of prosocial and pro environmental values at the consumer level, in partnership with private institutions.

I suggest a framework of consumption behavior that identifies factors which influence such behavior. This will illustrate how initiatives designed to reduce consumption levels will vary in their impact, depending upon the level at which they effect change (Brown). Such insights can be translated for use in a global/national platform/market. Here, consumers can monitor resource consumption or utilization at local and national levels, track the success or failure of current pro-environmental projects/efforts, and have the option to invest and share in these initiatives. It will also facilitate a healthy competition with prospective/neighboring localities. The platform itself, along with its promotion, must be broadcast in a way accessible, engaging, and prevalent to all consumers, regardless of their socioeconomic or sociopolitical status. Such an approach will actively involve all consumers, both public and private, in pro social and pro-environmental efforts, thereby exacting change and fostering accountability at the prescribed rate.

First, the behavioral framework needs to integrate potential social, economic, and psychological factors that contribute to resource consumption behavior. Compiling this data will help identify the role of social values in determining consumption behavior, laying the groundwork for a shift in such values (Brown). Challenging the idea that consumption of material goods is a prime source of happiness is pivotal in this shift, as these are the behaviors/notions that drive overconsumption. To determine sustainable consumption patterns, the total amount of resources society should consume within a given timeframe will need to be clearly defined. This should take into account an individual’s share of these resources, clearly express the types and quantities and cost of resources used in the production of goods and services, and should include all costs, both foreign and domestic.

It is important to express the true cost to consumers as this will help them make responsible, pro-environmental choices in true reflection. It is imperative that the consumer is directly involved and able to accurately compare and assess their individual impact based on their choices and efforts, and the choices and efforts of individuals and private parties, locally or otherwise. This will assist in individual accountability. This groundwork should also define which resources should be preserved relative to the impact their depletion has on the economy, the environment, and the production and availability of goods and services to consumers. Evidence for the efficacy of such a structure and platform lies in data and institutions that are already in place and successful. Examples include the stock market exchange, the success of advertising campaigns, and the data that corporations collect on consumer behavior used to determine, plan, and execute such campaigns, promotions, and sales. It will be empirical that consumers or private institutions should not be asked to change by way of force or proposition, but by their own choosing and without a drastic change in current tradition.

Previous efforts and suggestions have been made and met with opposition. Such efforts include taxation or other corrective measures, the restriction of access to resources by allocating resources based on the level of income, voluntary participation by consumers, and consumer boycotts. Taxation imposes a hardship that can be disproportionate and seem disciplinary in action, and so its efficacy will be minimal. For taxation to work, there must be a willingness among members of society to support the regulation necessary to pass legislative efforts. Restriction of access to resources, where resources are allocated based on an individual’s income or the right to a share, can again be disproportionate and create feelings of inequality and be a catalyst for criminal behavior. The unequal distribution of resources will, therefore, be ineffective. There is little evidence to support the effectiveness of a voluntary simplicity movement. This relies entirely on consumers making a conscious effort to make pro-environmental and pro-social choices, persuaded by advertising firms or other private institutions. These efforts have been met with little success.

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Data That Corporations Collect About Consumer Behavior. (2022, Jun 27). Retrieved from