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Title: Exploring self-based consumer behaviour approaches to understanding demand reduction for rhino horn and ivory
Author: Sharif, Vian Dhia
ISNI:       0000 0005 0287 3646
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2020
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Within our lifetimes, iconic species that walked the earth for some 50 million years - elephant and rhino, for example - could vanish. Why? In making sense of the mystery that finds buyers paying inflated prices of some $97,000 per kilo for some wildlife commodities that are without obvious utility, governments, NGOs and law enforcement agencies recognise that demand for illegal wildlife products must be better understood if the trade is to end. An influential premise cited by Belk (1988) and developed in the consumer marketing literature is that “we cannot hope to understand consumer behaviour without first gaining some understanding of the meanings that consumers attach to possessions. That we are what we have is perhaps the most basic and powerful fact of consumer behaviour.” (1988, p.139). Despite this foundational principle, research informed by this concept has not been widely applied to understanding consumer decision-making for illegal wildlife products. To address this, the present research is one of the first to test dimensions conferred upon two illegal wildlife products using theory based on this evidence with the aim of understanding the drivers behind consumers’ buying decisions. In three studies, I demonstrate that it is possible to fill a gap in the literature by applying self-based customer brand frameworks to explore consumer relationships to high profile illegal wildlife products. Findings show that while attributes conferred by consumers on rhino horn and ivory may be aligned to positive self-actualisation through the bestowing of status and affluence, inconsistencies in brand image and with moral values discourage self-relevance. The effect of the latter implies that purchase behaviour would be negatively impacted. The research highlights the role of self-relevance and awareness campaigns in driving consumer intentions to adopt new behaviours and reverse environmentally deleterious consumption decisions, whilst providing insights for both research and practice.
Supervisor: Eisingerich, Andreas ; Milner-Gulland, Eleanor Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral