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Lost in translation: Exploring the ethical consumer intention–behavior gap

Michal J. Carrington, Benjamin A. Neville and Gregory J. Whitwell

Journal of Business Research, 2014, vol. 67, issue 1, 2759-2767

Abstract: Ethical consumerism is a burgeoning movement, yet ethically-minded consumers rarely purchase ethically. Understanding obstacles to ethical consumption is limited. This study explores the underlying mechanics of the ethical purchase intention–behavior gap in the context of consumers' daily lives. The study employs multiple qualitative methods across multiple sites, explores the intention–behavior gap in observed modes of shopping behavior, and uses an interpretive approach. The analysis reveals four interrelated factors affecting the ethical intention–behavior gap: (1) prioritization of ethical concerns; (2) formation of plans/habits; (3) willingness to commit and sacrifice; and (4) modes of shopping behavior. Awareness of these four factors provides both strategic and tactical implications for marketing managers seeking to reach the elusive ethical consumer. Understanding and enhancing ethical consumption – closing the gap – has positive outcomes for the future sustainability of economies, societies and environments.

Keywords: Ethical consumerism; Intention–behavior gap; Ethnography; Prioritization; Habits; Implementation intentions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2012.09.022

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