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When Going Green Backfires: How Firm Intentions Shape the Evaluation of Socially Beneficial Product Enhancements

George E. Newman, Margarita Gorlin and Ravi Dhar

Journal of Consumer Research, 2014, vol. 41, issue 3, 823 - 839

Abstract: Many companies offer products with social benefits that are orthogonal to performance (e.g., green products). The present studies demonstrate that information about a company's intentions in designing the product plays an import role in consumers' evaluations. In particular, consumers are less likely to purchase a green product when they perceive that the company intentionally made the product better for the environment compared to when the same environmental benefit occurred as an unintended side effect. This result is explained by consumers' lay theories about resource allocation: intended (vs. unintended) green enhancements lead consumers to assume that the company diverted resources away from product quality, which in turn drives a reduction in purchase interest. The present studies also identify an important boundary condition based on the type of enhancement and show that the basic intended (vs. unintended) effect generalizes to other types of perceived tradeoffs, such as healthfulness and taste.

Date: 2014
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