Public awareness of the human, ecological and environmental cost of consumption has increased over the past few decades (Fraj and Martinez 2007). It has been closely accompanied by the idea that consumers can improve matters through ‘responsible’ consumer choices.While forms of what might be called ethical consumption have a long history (for example the Co-operative movement), the explicit marketing, accessibility and popularity of ‘ethical’ products is unprecedented (Connolly and Shaw 2006; Low and Davenport 2007; Mayo 2005). Magazines, websites, campaigns and pressure groups dedicated to ethical consumption proliferate; as do labelling initiatives, supermarket’s own’ethical’ brands and opportunities to donate to charity as you spend. For somecommentators the ability to ‘make a difference’ through consumption is steadily shaping up as a ‘new’ activism (Bryant and Goodman 2004: 344); with others arguing that ‘good’ consumption is becoming the means through which individuals frame otherwise insurmountable problems and participate in solutions (Micheletti 2003). Ethical consumption is a growth market.To take Fairtrade as an example, in the UK, sales of products carrying the Fairtrade label topped £712.6 m in 2008; a substantial year-on-year increase from £16.7m in 1998. Globally, Fairtrade certified products surpassed £1.6 billion in 2007, a 47 per cent increase on the previous year (Fairtrade Foundation 2009). This growth has led to a frenzy of profiling work to identify the ethical consumer often via personality measures and socio-demographics.
Barnett et al’s definition is encouragingly broad: ethical consumption is ‘any practice of consumption in which explicitly registering commitment to distant or absent others is an important dimension of the meaning of activity of the actors involved’ (2005: 29).There are two points that our discussion allows us to unpack; the notion of ‘commitment’ and the detailing of specific others. Our findings did demonstrate that many consumers did have a commitment to, in their own words, ‘being good’ and making a difference through their shopping decisions.As existing literature would lead us to expect, this commitment was sometimes confounded by pragmatics of cost, accessibility and at times, product quality.
Increased media coverage
See marketing techniques from same paper for moreâ€¦.
Against a background of dynamic
growth in the global luxury market, it is critical for luxury researchers and marketers
to understand the reasons why consumers buy luxury, what they believe
luxury is, and how their perception of luxury value affects their buying behavior.
In this context, a major objective of luxury marketing strategies is to identify
and profile consumer segments, such as the cosmopolitan luxury consumers
who travel frequently, speak more than one language, shop in international
department stores, and, as opinion leaders, often influence the purchasing behavior
of other consumers (Anderson & He, 1998).
Incorporating relevant theoretical and empirical findings, this study focuses
on understanding what is really meant by “luxury” from the consumer’s perspective.
By developing a multidimensional concept encompassing financial,
functional, individual, and social components, it aims to identify different types
of luxury consumers according to the dimensions that influence their perceptions
of value and consumption.
Although routinely used in our everyday life to refer to products, services, or a
certain lifestyle, the term “luxury” elicits no clear understanding. It takes different
forms for many different people and is dependent on the mood and experience
of the consumer. “Luxury is particularly slippery to define,” notes Cornell
(2002, p. 47). “A strong element of human involvement, very limited supply and
the recognition of value by others are key components.” According to Kapferer
(1997), the word luxury “defines beauty; it is art applied to functional items.
Like light, luxury is enlightening. Luxury items provide extra pleasure and flatter
all senses at once” (p. 253). Whereas necessities are utilitarian objects
that relieve an unpleasant state of discomfort, luxuries are defined in Webster’s
(2002) as “non-essential items or services that contribute to luxurious living; an indulgence or convenience beyond the indispensable minimum.”
The psychological benefits are considered the main factor distinguishing luxury from non-luxury products (Nia & Zaichkowsky, 2000).
To explain consumer behavior in relation to luxury brands, apart from interpersonal aspects like snobbery and conspicuousness (Leibenstein, 1950; Mason, 1992), personal aspects such as hedonism and perfectionism (Dubois & Laurent, 1994) and situational conditions (e.g., economic, societal, and political factors) must be considered (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999, 2004). While the consumption of prestige or status brands involves purchasing a higher-priced product to boost one’s ego (Eastman, Goldsmith, & Flynn, 1999), the consumption of luxury goods involves buying a product that represents value to both the individual and significant others. To explain consumer behavior in relation to luxury brands, apart from interpersonal aspects like snobbery and conspicuousness (Leibenstein, 1950; Mason, 1992), personal aspects such as hedonism and perfectionism (Dubois & Laurent, 1994) and situational conditions (e.g., economic, societal, and political factors) must be considered (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999, 2004). While the consumption of prestige or status brands involves purchasing a higher-priced product to boost one’s ego (Eastman, Goldsmith, & Flynn, 1999), the consumption of luxury goods involves buying a product that represents value to both the individual and significant others.
A customer’s luxury value perception and motives for luxury brand consumption are not simply tied to a set of social factors that include displaying status, success, distinction, and the human desire to impress other people; they also depend on the nature of the financial, functional, and individual utilities of the brand.
Value and value based segmentation
In summary, the models proposed for comparison, with respect to
predicting intention to purchase fair trade grocery products, will each
incorporate two or more of the following independent variables: (1) attitudes
towards the identified behaviour (A); (2) perception that important others
think they should behave in a certain way, and desire to comply with these
important others (SN); (3) perceptions of control over the identified
behaviour (PBC); (4) perceptions that performing the behaviour is a ethical
obligation (EO); and (5) self-identification with ethical issues (SI).
for many attitudes and behaviours important to
consumers today, the gain is not solely one of self-interest, but rather is
strongly influenced by ethical/moral considerations. In the context of the
present study, for example, while many consumers acting in a rational selfmotivated
manner may select coffee on the basis of factors such as price and
taste, those concerned about ethical issues may be guided by a sense of
obligation to others and identification with ethical issues, where concerns
such as providing a fair price for fair trade producers take priority. For
these consuners their overall intention to purchase fair trade products has
less to do with self-motivated concerns, but rather is driven by a sense of
ethical obligation and their identity with the issue. An improved
understanding of this behavioural context is vital as ethical consumerism
gains momentum. This new and developing market segment provides a
source of competitive advantage for organisations not wishing to risk losing
out on growing consumer demand for brands with ethical credentials. Many
organisations that responded to the development and growth in
environmental consumerism (e.g. The Body Shop) continue to reap the
benefits as ethical consumerism gains momentum. Such successes emphasise
the important strategic gains that can potentially be achieved by responding
to developing consumer demands.
Although many ‘ethical’ product sectors are now well-established with their own labeling certifications that aid consumer decision-making, much of this development has been in the food sector where examples include, fair trade, animal welfare and organics. Consumer concern in other product sectors, notably fashion and clothing where child labour and worker’s rights are pertinent issues, is exerting pressure for similar action. As yet, however, consumer decision-making cues such as labeling, are not readily available in this sector. In this context, therefore, ethically concerned consumers may find themselves confronted by uncertainty in terms of both information available for choice and the consequences of their actions (Shaw & Duff, 2002).
Using the example of a t-shirt, choice criteria may include the ‘people’ issue of whether the t-shirt is fairly traded or made under sweatshop conditions. The consumer may consider country of origin and working conditions and wish to purchase a garment produced in their home country. These concerns must also be coupled with traditional choice criteria such as price, quality, convenience and availability. Conflict can arise, for example, between a concern to trade fairly with poorer countries, to promote their economies and a desire to support home-country production. In such a situation the purchase of a traditionally low involvement product such as a t-shirt can require substantially more effort on the part of the consumer in decision-making. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a ‘words/deeds inconsistency’ has been reported in terms of a weak relationship between what consumers say, and what they do (Gill et al., 1986). Thus, while an individual may state that they intend to avoid sweatshop labour when purchasing clothing, difficulties at the point of decision-making may result in apparent behavioural inconsistency.
Previous research indicates that consumers prioritise their ethical concerns to a limited number they consider they can ‘cope’ with when making consumption choices (e.g., Shaw & Clarke, 1999; Newholm, 2000). This makes the selection of a central behavioural focus pertinent in ethical consumption contexts.
The respondents found that verifying information regarding manufacturing polices of large brands, many of whom employ extensive sub – contractors, was both complex and time consuming and as a result rarely carried out. Although respondents intended to act ethically, it was difficult to do so; indeed the barriers to ethical behaviour in this context were perceived by the majority of respondents to be unassailable within the High Street.
Four main constraints were identified when attempting to purchase sweatshop free clothing: lack of information regarding the brands or retailers that are sweatshop free; difficulties in accessing ethical retailers; the limited range offered by ethical retailers; and the nature of ethically produced clothing. The most widespread problem was identified as the lack of information relating to the origins of the product and the company’s policy regarding sweatshop produced clothing.
Use the ref to build word to action part
Ethical brands fi nd themselves in a position
where they need to distinguish and
differentiate themselves from others while
at the same time ensuring that they meet
the functional requirements of customers
and their ‘ psychological or representational
needs ‘ . 16 The importance of
recognising the functional and representational
17,18 or emotional 19,20 dimensions
of brands is central to understanding how
they may be positioned within existing
markets. Functionality refers to the rational
evaluation of brands and their ability to
satisfy utilitarian requirements, while the
representational or emotional dimensions
may be defi ned as that aspect of the brand
that helps consumers express something
To build their brands, ethical
producers have to carefully identify a
balance between the appropriate functional
and representational dimensions
while ensuring that they can distinguish
themselves in a form that will refl ect consumers
‘ needs in terms of the motivations
for the ethical choices they make. Some
may, however, question the role of brand
building for ethical companies at all, at a
time when the role and infl uence of
brands on modern society is under scrutiny
23 and anti-branding movements such
as Adbusters subvert and protest against
many well-known brand names.
For the purpose of this discussion, we
suggest that a key identifi er of ethical
brands is that while socially and environmentally
aware, they are fi rmly placed
within the existing framework of consumer
markets. Ethical consumers do not
deny consumption but rather choose
goods that refl ect their moral, ethical and
social concerns. Ethical consumption is as
much part of the active social process of
consump tion with its material and symbolic
dimensions as any other form of
consumption and as such we should not
view it in isolation but accept that ethical
attributes will be measured by consumers
among a bundle of other brand values. 10
Ethical consumption should be integrated
into our general understanding of how
consu mers consume and as such requires
further exploration and investigation in
terms of what it means to consumers
beyond external and instrumental reasons
such as welfare, pollution and appropriate
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