Understanding the Nexus between Social Commerce, Green Customer Citizenship, Eco-Friendly Behavior and Staying in Green Hotels

Understanding the Nexus between Social Commerce, Green Customer Citizenship, Eco-Friendly Behavior and Staying in Green Hotels

1. Introduction

Social commerce, integrating social media and online shopping, has transformed consumer engagement globally. Leveraging platforms with billions of users, it shapes consumer choices through reviews, recommendations, and social validation [1,2,3,4]. The emergence of green customer citizenship signifies a growing commitment to environmentally responsible consumption, emphasizing consumers’ conscientious efforts in making sustainable choices [5,6]. This concept underscores consumers’ pivotal role in fostering sustainable practices and has the potential to drive positive change on a larger scale [5,6]. Understanding how social commerce promotes eco-friendly products is vital for sustainability. The convergence of social commerce and green customer citizenship is a key area of exploration for practitioners and scholars, aiming to comprehend their joint impact on fostering eco-friendly behavior [7]. The integration creates a synergy significantly influencing eco-friendly behavior. Social commerce platforms, acting as influential channels, disseminate information on sustainable products, shaping consumer attitudes and fostering environmental responsibility [8,9]. Investigating how these platforms effectively communicate and reinforce green values is crucial for strategies leveraging the synergistic effects [7].
The connection between social commerce and eco-friendly behavior remains underexplored in the current literature [10,11]. Despite the growing emphasis on sustainability in the hospitality industry, there is a significant gap in understanding how social commerce influences eco-friendly intentions and behaviors in this context. Additionally, there is limited research on the moderating role of green customer citizenship in the relationship between social commerce and eco-friendly behavior in green hotel settings. Previous studies have mainly treated green customer citizenship as an outcome rather than exploring its moderating impact on enhancing eco-friendly behavior [5,12,13,14,15]. Examining the supportive role of green customer citizenship in promoting eco-friendly behavior not only helps businesses align with consumer values for brand loyalty but also provides insights for policymakers in crafting effective environmental initiatives. Considering the rapid evolution of social commerce technologies [16,17], it is crucial to assess how these advancements impact individuals’ attitudes and behaviors toward sustainability, especially in eco-friendly hotel settings. Also, the diverse array of social commerce tools necessitates updated investigations to understand their influence on fostering environmentally conscious choices [16,17]. Addressing these gaps underscores the importance of empirical research to unravel the intricate interplay between social commerce, eco-friendly intentions, and subsequent behavioral outcomes in the unique context of eco-friendly accommodations.

Thus, this paper sets out to examine the potential role of social commerce and green customer citizenship in shaping and promoting eco-friendly behaviors and staying in hotels. Specifically, this study examines (1) the direct impact of social commerce on eco-friendly behavior and staying in green hotels (SGH), (2) the mediating effect of eco-friendly behavior on the linkage between social commerce and staying in green hotels, and (3) the moderating role of green customer citizenship on the association between the three dimensions of social commerce (i.e., “recommendations and referrals, forums and communities, ratings and reviews”) and eco-friendly behaviors in green hotels. The examination of this nexus is not only academically intriguing but also holds the potential to shape a greener and more socially responsible future. The findings from examining the impact of social commerce and green customer citizenship on eco-friendly behavior present broad implications for businesses and policymakers. By unraveling the dynamics between these variables, businesses and policymakers can capitalize on the synergies to create a more sustainable and environmentally conscious consumer landscape.

5. Discussion and Theoretical Implication

In the realm of social commerce, customers are provided with access to social knowledge and experiences that help form their intentions for online purchases, hence enabling them to make more informed and precise judgments regarding their purchases [1]. Nevertheless, there remains a lack of comprehensive understanding regarding the manner in which social commerce components (SCCs) effectively support customers in making purchasing decisions, a knowledge gap that persists within both academic research and industry practices [22].
The topic of sustainable development has been receiving more attention recently from all spheres of society and business, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors [7]. Over the past few decades, protecting the environment has been society’s primary concern because humans have become more ecologically conscious and aware of how serious the ecological challenges are [70]. Consequently, people are embracing eco-friendly behaviors in their daily lives and becoming more environmentally conscious [53]. In this context, eco-friendly products and services have attracted a lot of attention as a result of customers’ growing sensitivity to environmental deterioration and growing concern about environmental sustainability [71]. According to Han et al. [42], a green hotel is an environmentally conscious lodging establishment that follows eco-friendly policies and practices (such as reducing emissions and solid waste or saving water and electricity) in order to safeguard the environment and improve the hotel’s operation. Through the implementation of green initiatives, hotels not only help the environment but also reduce expenses, gain a competitive edge, and improve customer and staff satisfaction and loyalty in addition to compliance with regulations [72]. Bedard and Tolmie [40] proved that social influence has a favorable impact on consumers’ environmentally conscious behaviors.
The findings of the present study revealed that recommendations and referrals positively affect eco-friendly behavior (H1). According to Han et al. [42], environmentally friendly practices in the hotel industry do not always encourage visitors to request a stay at a green hotel. Hence, it might be more successful to convey such eco-friendly behaviors rather than promoting them in order to draw in more environmentally conscious visitors [73]. As a result, the hotel sector has found that social media platforms are a useful tool for communicating with guests and raising awareness of environmental issues [74]. Consequently, several scholars have developed an interest in recommendation networks as a result of the recent growth in the eco-tourism sector and data analysis techniques [72]. Selecting an optimal eco-friendly hotel can be difficult for customers because there are several options available with varying levels of service quality [48]. Hence, before making a reservation, customers sometimes look for recommendations and referrals [72]. Therefore, recommendations and referrals systems can be useful tools [2]. Basic conversation platforms like internet feedback and recommendations have developed into an accurate source of prospects and inquiries [8]. Customer recommendations and referrals to others are one way that customers show their satisfaction with the service [75]. A satisfying guest experience will boost hotel revenue and set a hotel apart from its competitors [76,77,78].
Furthermore, our results discovered that forums and communities positively affect eco-friendly behavior (H2). When making purchases, consumers may use information created by them in addition to that supplied by businesses owing to information-sharing platforms like forums and communities [76]. Customers might use these collaborative platforms to voice their opinions about the services they have used [75]. Participating in online groups and forums exposes users to a diverse array of perspectives and ideas, hence, enhancing their confidence in the shared information [4]. Furthermore, it is argued that internet-based consumer communication inside social commerce frameworks fosters social support, which raises network trust [9]. Trust is seen as a mediating component when examining how social commerce information-sharing activities affect customer behavior, particularly decision-making and purchase intentions [79,80]. Moreover, in order to accurately evaluate the influence of trust on customer behavior, it is necessary to consider a variety of factors, such as organizations, brands, products, information technology and security, and privacy [76,81]. An individual is more likely to participate in a behavior if they have a good attitude about it [45]. Consumers’ perceptions of eco-friendly tourism destinations are shaped by their attractiveness, friendliness, intellect, and helpfulness [46]. Additionally, customers’ actual consumption and donation habits may be influenced by their intention to engage in an ecologically responsible attitude [11].
Concerning (H3), the study findings proved that ratings and reviews favorably affected eco-friendly behavior. In the hospitality industry, consumer ratings and reviews not only offer distinctive and useful information on hotel services, but they also directly influence the development of competitive strategies [75]. Through the utilization of consumers’ expertise and insights, lodging companies might obtain creative concepts [82]. Accordingly, researchers regularly analyze customer reviews found on major independent consumer review websites like Trip Advisor [83], as well as online travel companies like Expedia and Booking [84]. On the other hand, guests’ feedback and reviews, one of the primary E-WOM (electronic word-of-mouth) resources, have a significant effect on how visitors make reservations for hospitality services and products [74,85]. Consequently, customers should make efficient use of the extensive user reviews and ratings of hotels found in a tourist website database to assist them in making decisions and ensure they obtain the best products suited to their preferences [72]. Jung et al. [4] argued that the desire of consumers to purchase environmentally friendly products is greatly influenced by their attitudes about environmental conservation and their dedication to environmental responsibility. More precisely, green word-of-mouth (G-WOM) is a potent marketing instrument that influences green consumers’ intentions and behavior; as such, hoteliers ought to consider the feedback and comments left by their consumers [86].
Additionally, the study’s findings revealed that eco-friendly behavior has a positive impact on staying in green hotels (H4). Budeanu [49] argued that guests who choose to stay in green hotels will experience less of an impact when visiting. According to Han et al. [41], guests are more inclined to recommend and pay more for stays at green hotels if they have positive attitudes about eco-friendly activities in their daily tasks and favorable impressions of these businesses; they also usually recognize the threats tied to environmental contamination, cooperate to lessen or eliminate the problem, and have a desire to contribute to its solution [52]. As a result, they will have no trouble comprehending the eco-friendly features of green hotels [51]. Because green hotels comprehend their duty to preserve the environment and how to incorporate eco-friendly practices, guests who are aware of the drawbacks of visiting in traditional lodging decide on lodging there [42,87]. They are potentially more inclined than others to act in an ecologically friendly attitude [88]. Similarly, Gupta et al. [71] believed that customers staying at green hotels think their choice to do so will impact those who come to the hotel.
Regarding (H5), the study provided empirical evidence that eco-friendly behavior mediates the influence of recommendations and referrals on staying in green hotels. Social commerce was proven to have a favorable effect on consumers’ behavioral intention [38] and on consumers’ eco-friendly behavior [40]. Similarity, referrals and recommendations happen when consumers learn about products or services via family, close friends, or other reliable sources [8]. In the context of the social learning theory, Darnall et al. [89] argued that knowledge is seen to have an influence on decision-making processes and on how customers evaluate products and services. Consequently, it has a big impact on customer attitude [9]. Environmental knowledge is defined as the ability of the consumer to identify different environmentally related cues, concepts, and attitudes [52]. People who have a positive attitude about a behavior are more likely to participate in it [45]. Consumers are more likely to recommend and pay more for stays at green hotels if they have favorable attitudes about eco-friendly practices and positive opinions of green hotels [41]. Hoteliers should not take all the blame for the serious environmental problems caused by the accommodation industry; guests also share some of the responsibility [48].
Furthermore, the results of our study revealed that eco-friendly behavior mediates the influence of forums and communities on staying in green hotels (H6). For social commerce, communities and forums are practical and efficient social media channels that support product selection, discovery, and recommendations [35]. According to Chen et al. [22], they assist consumers in acquiring knowledge and requesting opinions of others, empowering them to make informed purchasing decisions. Participating in online communities and forums provides consumers with an array of perspectives and ideas, hence enhancing their confidence in the shared information [4]. Social learning—the act of acquiring knowledge and experience from people we know or trust—is the core social psychology of social commerce [23]. Consumer attitudes and opinions regarding trust have a significant role in determining their decisions to buy products and services on social commerce platforms [9]. Consumer trust may increase when ambiguity is lessened and cognitive clarity is enhanced at the same time [54]. The degree of consumer knowledge, attitudes, values, and actions largely determines the standard of the environment [53]. Customers that care about the environment prefer eco-friendly behaviors, and individuals are growing more environmentally aware and integrating eco-friendly practices into their daily routines [40,42]. Likewise, the study’s findings demonstrated that eco-friendly behavior mediates the influence of ratings and reviews on staying in green hotels (H7). Through reviews and ratings, customers may help each other make decisions by sharing objective opinions and experiences about products [3]. Elshaer et al. [9] indicated that consumers’ attitudes and views regarding trust have a significant impact on their decisions to buy products and services on social commerce platforms. Consumers are more inclined to suggest and pay more for stays at green hotels if they have favorable opinions of them and attitudes toward engaging in eco-friendly activities in their daily lives [41]. According to Sujood et al. [44] attitudes toward behaviors are influenced by behavioral beliefs and can reflect both positive and negative behavioral assessments. Individuals are more likely to engage in a behavior if they have a good attitude about it [45]. Furthermore, customers’ attitudes regarding traveling to eco-friendly locations for tourist experiences are influenced by their intelligence, friendliness, helpfulness, and attraction [46]. Consumers’ desire to behave in an environmentally responsible manner might influence their actual consumption and contribution behaviors [11]. Consequently, visitors who care about the environment are more likely to stay in eco-friendly hotels than visitors who do not [5].
One key contribution of our study was to test the moderating role of green customer citizenship behavior in the link between recommendations and referrals and eco-friendly behavior (H8). According to Abdou et al. [5], consumer concerns about environmental sustainability and increased knowledge of environmental degradation have led to an increase in the popularity of eco-friendly behaviors. This promotes the adoption and widespread use of environmentally friendly products by other customers such as friends, family, coworkers, and linked referral groups [55]. Accordingly, green customer citizenship behavior includes assisting or advising other consumers on ecologically friendly products [56], asking other consumers to purchase from an organization that produces green products [57], and offering suggestions to the organization to enhance its eco-friendly activities, encouraging more green buying [5]. Through social commerce websites, consumers may also view social recommendations and remarks left by other customers or ask their friends’ perceptions [31]. On social commerce platforms, customers who have actually made the transaction themselves promote and refer others [22]. After this is completed, the social commerce platforms distribute these recommendations to other users who, in terms of socialization, preferences, and social ties, are comparable to the advocates [33]. Referrals and recommendations happen when consumers learn about products or services from friends, relatives, or other reliable sources [8]. The attitudes and trust of customers are greatly impacted by these forms of social commerce [9].
Notably, the research results demonstrated that green customer citizenship behavior moderates the relationship between forums and communities and eco-friendly behavior (H9). Learning occurs in a social setting, where an individual’s surroundings, behaviors, and ideas interact with each other in a dynamic and reciprocal way, according to the social cognitive theory (SCT) [19]. Therefore, customers are encouraged to act willingly when positive products participate in eco-friendly activities [6]. Customers may obtain information and comments from other users through forums and communities, which helps them make informed purchases [22]. Moreover, there is a claim that internet-based customer contact inside social commerce frameworks increases network trust by fostering social support [9]. This kind of assistance may be both emotional and educational [3]. According to the “self-determination theory”, extrinsic and intrinsic motives are two major factors that influence environmentally conscious consumer behavior [43]. The term “intrinsic motivation” describes actions motivated by pleasure or other internal rewards [11]. Because green customer citizenship behaviors are optional and voluntary, they may be viewed as extra-role actions [6]. Consumers with high levels of green voluntary behavior are motivated to contribute to the growth of an organization’s environmental initiatives and support a green image [58]. Van Tonder et al. [55] distinguish this type of behavior from in-role behavior, which concentrates on what customers need to do to ensure the transaction is finished appropriately. Engaging in virtual discussion forums and communities exposes users to a wide range of viewpoints and concepts, thus boosting their trust in the shared information [4].
Regarding the last hypothesis, the study result proved that green customer citizenship behavior moderates the relationship between ratings and reviews and eco-friendly behavior (H10). Reviews and ratings let users share their independent opinions and experiences about products and help one other make decisions [32]. Positive product participation in eco-friendly initiatives encourages consumers to behave voluntarily [6]. It has been shown that people with a green attitude show more concern for ecological issues and pay attention to eco-social advantages [59,90]. Van Tonder et al. [55] described green customer citizenship behavior as a voluntary, discretionary behavior that is beneficial to the implementation of an organization’s green initiatives but is not forced. Among the behaviors associated with green customer citizenship include assisting or advising other consumers on ecologically friendly products [56,91], asking other consumers to purchase from an organization that produces green products (advocacy) [57], and offering suggestions to the organization to enhance its eco-friendly activities, encouraging more green buying [5].

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