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Consumer information (in)sufficiency in relation to biofuels: determinants and impact

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining-Biopr, Volume 5, Number 2, p.125-131 (2011)



Despite the growing interest in biorenewable energy at society, policy, and industry level, many people still know very little about alternatives to fossil fuels, particularly biofuels. This perspective assesses and discusses the needs of citizens and future consumers for more information on biofuels. Using empirical data collected from a sample (n = 260) of fuel consumers in Flanders, Belgium, this perspective first demonstrates that information insufficiency (the gap between consumers' need for information and their perceived knowledge) is a good predictor of information-seeking behavior, specifically in the case of biofuels. Secondly, it shows that women, older, and less educated people report higher levels of information insufficiency. This means that they have a higher a priori interest in receiving more information about biofuels, in comparison to men, younger, and more highly educated population groups, for whom greater efforts may be required to ensure that communications reach them effectively. Additionally, information insufficiency (and thus also biofuel information-seeking behavior) increases in line with a stronger belief that biofuels are environmentally friendly, and with weaker beliefs that biofuels will have a positive impact on the local economy and can decrease foreign energy dependency. Furthermore, outcome relevant involvement (i.e. the perceived importance of the impact of biofuels on one's own life) increases information insufficiency, whereas impression relevant involvement (i.e. the importance of perceived approval by peers) and value relevant involvement (i.e. the role of personal values) are not significant. Based on these insights, and considering the wider societal context of biofuels and the limitations of the empirical data, conclusions are drawn with respect to who is (and who is not) open to receiving information about biofuels, as well as about the specific themes and benefits such information campaigns should highlight to stand the greatest chance of success in the marketplace