The Ethical Attribute Stigma: Understanding When Ethical Attributes Improve Consumer Responses to Product Evaluations
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.
KeywordsConsumer 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).
- Bodur, H. O., & Grohmann, B. (2004). Goal-oriented ad design: An investigation of message type and consumption goal congruence. In F. F. Boctor & A. Martel (Eds.), Administrative sciences association of Canada conference proceedings, Quebec City, QC (Vol. 25).Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. F. (2012). Process: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling. Accessed from http://www.afhayes.com/public/process2012.pdf. Accessed 24 Oct 2012.
- Monroe, K. B., & Krishnan, R. (1985). The effect of price on subjective product evaluations. Perceived Quality, 1, 209–232.Google Scholar
- Naylor, R. W., & Trudel, R. (2012). Is less more when communicating sustainability? Consumer response to detailed sustainability product labels. In Proceedings of the association for consumer research, Vancouver, BC.Google Scholar
- Nemeroff, C., & Rozin, P. (1989). “You are what you eat”: Applying the demand-free “impressions” technique to an unacknowledged belief. Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, 17(1), 50–69.Google Scholar
- Nemeroff, C., & Rozin, P. (1994). The contagion concept in adult thinking in the United States: Transmission of germs and of interpersonal influence. Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, 22(2), 158–186.Google Scholar
- Nemeroff, C., & Rozin, P. (2000). The makings of the magical mind: The nature and function of sympathetic magical thinking. In K. S. Rosengren, C. N. Johnson, & P. L. Harris (Eds.), Imagining the impossible: Magical, scientific, and religious thinking in children (pp. 1–34). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rifon, N. J., Choi, S. M., Trimble, C. S., & Li, H. (2004). Congruence effects in sponsorship. Journal of Advertising, 33(1), 29–42.Google Scholar