Special Issue of Journal of Business Research (JBR)

Fostering Consumers’ Climate (Change) Engagement

Guest Co-Editors: Hollebeek L, Filieri R, Calder B & Sprott D

Deadline: 1 May 2024

In the last fifteen years, scholarly interest in the consumer- or customer engagement concept, defined as a consumer’s (customer’s) resource investment in his/her brand interactions (Hollebeek et al., 2019), has gained traction. While important insight has been gleaned into the concept’s definition, its (e.g., cognitive, emotional, and behavioral) dimensionality, and its nomological network (e.g., Bazi et al., 2023; Rubin et al., 2022; Sprott et al., 2009; Calder et al., 2009), the development of further acumen in this topic area remains a key research priority, given the concept’s centrality to firm- and brand performance (M.S.I., 2022; Ho et al., 2020). In particular, understanding of consumers’ sustainable, or green, engagement with brands, products, and firms lags behind, warranting further investigation (e.g., Pucci et al., 2020; Chuah et al., 2020).

In parallel, contemporary societies are increasingly focused on climate change, or a change in global or regional climate or weather patterns attributed to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels (United Nations, 2022a), on our everyday lives and future generations (e.g., Rashidi-Sabet et al., 2022; Mende and Misra, 2021). In an effort to combat climate change, stakeholders, including firms, lobby groups, and governments, are increasingly incentivizing consumers to engage with more sustainable offerings (Sarkar et al., 2022; Odou and Schill, 2020). For example, different governments worldwide are offering tax credits on the purchase of electric cars, and a growing range of apps (e.g., carbon footprint, or CO2, trackers) is available to help consumers monitor, or offset, their environment-impacting behavior by engaging in more climate positive actions (Hall, 2018).

Despite the emerging insight into the, to date, largely disparate topic areas of consumer engagement and climate change (e.g., Sumrin et al., 2021; Odou and Schill, 2020), little is known regarding their theoretical interface (Ojala, 2023), exposing a key literature-based gap. Specifically, the drivers, characteristics, and effects of consumers’ engagement with products, services, brands, and/or firms in the face of climate change remain tenuous to date. Addressing this gap, this Special Issue examines the theoretical interface of consumers’ engagement with products, services, brands, or firms in an era of climate change, which we designate consumers’ climate (change) engagement.

On the one hand, individuals’ engagement with brands may be detrimental to, or accelerate, climate change (e.g., by raising users’ energy needs, contributing to excess consumption, or creating growing levels of emissions and/or waste; Wooliscroft and Ganglmair-Wooliscroft, 2018). However, on the other hand, consumers’ engagement with specific brand-related offerings, touchpoints, or initiatives can be strategically leveraged to induce socio-cultural change and transition pathways that can alter, decelerate, or minimize the course of climate change globally (W.E.F., 2021; Mostaghel and Koteshwar, 2021). For example, future Metaverse-based retailing, or socializing, apps can help reduce consumers’ transportation needs (Belk et al., 2022), potentially shifting their engagement with brands to more sustainable patterns (e.g., by lowering their carbon emissions). It is, therefore, pivotal to stimulate consumers’ positive climate (change) engagement, while minimizing their negative engagement in this regard (e.g., by resisting climate change initiatives; e.g., Dwivedi et al., 2023).

Overall, an important opportunity exists for marketers to strategically develop, and leverage, consumers’ climate (change) engagement to cultivate their greener, more pro-environmental (e.g., Net Zero) behavior and decelerate the pace, and effects, of climate change (Odou and Schill, 2020; O’Neill and Sheehan, 2013). These initiatives are, in turn, expected to contribute to the World Economic Forum’s Climate Change Goals (W.E.F., 2022) and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (U.N., 2022b; Smith et al., 2020).

In response to these developments, this Special Issue welcomes submissions addressing key hallmarks, drivers, outcomes, and/or contingency factors impacting consumers’ climate (change) engagement. We welcome conceptual, methodological, qualitative, quantitative, or pluralistic contributions grounded in relevant perspectives that address issues, including, but not limited to, the following:
– How do marketers best leverage consumers’ climate (change) engagement to foster their desirable, climate positive behaviors, while also contributing to the firm’s elevated (e.g., bottom-line) performance?
– What can firms do to optimize consumers’ positive climate (change) engagement (e.g., by nurturing their more sustainable brand engagement), while minimizing their negative climate (change) engagement (e.g., by opposing climate change campaigns)?
– How do marketers best foster consumers’ elevated, positive climate (change) engagement, while guarding against their climate-related disengagement (i.e., low engagement)?
– To what extent, how, and why does consumers’ climate (change) engagement affect their product selection, purchase, usage, and disposal behavior?
– How does consumers’ climate (change) engagement impact their wellbeing?
– To what extent may other firm stakeholders’ (e.g., frontline service employees’) climate (change) engagement impact, or spill over to, consumers’ climate (change) engagement?
– How might specific technologies, or innovations, be used, applied, or leveraged to boost consumers’ climate (change) engagement, and what are their respective behavioral effects?
– What theories, or theoretical perspectives, can be used to conceptualize, or model, consumers’ climate (change) engagement and their downstream climate-related behaviors?
– How can consumers’ climate (change) engagement be incorporated into firms’ climate transition plans and/or brand purpose-based brand strategy?
– How may consumers’ climate (change) engagement be affected by (e.g., climate-related) mis- or disinformation? What can firms do to address these issues?
– What role can consumers’, and/or other firm stakeholders’, climate (change) engagement take in the firm’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (E.S.G.) implementation, metrics, and reporting?

Guest Editors:
Linda D. Hollebeek, Ph.D., Vilnius University, Tallinn University of Technology, Umea University, Lund University, and University of Johannesburg
Raffaele Filieri, Ph.D., Audencia Business School, France
Bobby J. Calder, Ph.D., Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, USA
David E. Sprott, Ph.D., Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University, USA

Manuscript submission information:
The deadline for Special Issue submissions is May 1, 2024, via JBR’s online submission portal. When submitting your manuscript, please select the Special Issue (SI): “Climate Change Engagement” from the drop-down menu. Submissions should be prepared in accordance with the editorial policy and author guidelines.

Full call available here.