Consumer Assessment of Social Product Features: An Empirical Investigation Using Choice Experiments
61 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2004
Date Written: January 2001
The purpose of this paper is to try to clarify a number of issues about ethical consumerism - in particular, how much do consumers think about ethical product features when making purchases and are there differences between individuals in the extent of their caring. In studying the issue of individual differences, we utilize both personality measures and demographics. To examine the role of personality differences in consumers' ethical purchase intentions, we employ a well-established measurement instrument, the machiavellianism scale, utilized by researchers in the ethics and personality psychology fields (Christie and Geis (1970)), which has been shown to be related to a number of socially complex issues, such as abortion, euthanasia and drug use. We also use structured choice experiments to estimate the importance of both "functional" and "ethical" features in two product categories athletic shoes and bath soaps - in two markets - Australia and Hong Kong. Choice experiments allow us to examine purchase intentions in constrained choice settings in which consumers are forced to balance features off against one another, instead of merely indicating the importance of a list of issues using unconstrained responses like importance ratings. Finally, we examined the effect of information about ethical features on the purchase intentions of consumers.
The results show that social features of products and the information supplied to consumers about those features do affect individuals' likelihood of purchasing a product.
Keywords: Ethical Consumerism, Choice Experiments
JEL Classification: M3, L2, K0, J0
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation