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Do Ethical Social Media Communities Pay Off? An Exploratory Study of the Ability of Facebook Ethical Communities to Strengthen Consumers’ Ethical Consumption Behavior

Johanna Gummerus (), Veronica Liljander () and Reija Sihlman
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Johanna Gummerus: Hanken School of Economics
Veronica Liljander: Hanken School of Economics
Reija Sihlman: Nokia Group

Journal of Business Ethics, 2017, vol. 144, issue 3, No 1, 449-465

Abstract: Abstract It has been proposed that the social networking site Facebook is suitable for building communities and strengthening customer relationships, and also many organizations that promote ethical consumption have established online communities there. However, because of the newness of ethical online communities, little is known about the extent to which consumer participation in them produces positive outcomes. The present study aims at exploring such outcomes: first, we identify consumer-perceived benefits from ethical community participation, and second, we explore whether these benefits influence the activity promoted (in this case, ethical consumption), as well as consumer loyalty toward the ethical Facebook community. The results of an online survey of ethical community participants reveal that informational benefits reinforce consumers’ ethical consumption behavior. Social and entertainment benefits, in turn, have a positive influence on loyalty to the community. The present study further reveals that the consumers’ prior commitment to ethical consumption influences the perceived benefits: the affective commitment to ethical consumption has a positive, and the continuance commitment a negative influence on the benefits. Thus, the more consumers feel they engage in ethical consumption because of an emotional attachment, the higher the perceived benefits from online community participation are. The more consumers perceive that their ethical consumption is driven by lack of choice, the fewer the benefits. Overall, the perceived benefits were at a relatively low level, which is somewhat alarming and highlights the need to manage the communities more efficiently.

Keywords: Ethical consumption; Online community; Commitment; Consumer benefits; Loyalty; Social media (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/s10551-015-2830-y

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