Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 167–177 | Cite as

The Ethical Attribute Stigma: Understanding When Ethical Attributes Improve Consumer Responses to Product Evaluations

  • H. Onur Bodur
  • Ting Gao
  • Bianca Grohmann


Although several articles have investigated ethical product attributes, earlier research has not empirically examined different benefits offered by ethical attributes (i.e., symbolic or utilitarian benefits). This study demonstrates that ethical attributes have functional benefits as well as symbolic benefits. More importantly, when the ethical attribute benefit is congruent with the product category benefit, ethical attributes improve product evaluations. In addition, products with a higher degree of physical contact with consumers are affected more positively by benefit congruity of ethical attributes. For products with lower degree of physical contact, benefit congruity of ethical attributes still has a positive impact, but not for consumers who have strong price–quality beliefs.


Consumer welfare Sustainability Ethical products Corporate social responsibility (CSR) Ethical attribute Contagion effect 



The authors acknowledge the helpful comments of Kimberly Duval on earlier versions of the manuscript and the support of the Center for Multidisciplinary Behavioral Business Research (CMBBR).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marketing DepartmentConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

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