Consumer Behavior in Moral Markets. On the Relevance of Identity, Justice Beliefs, Social Norms, Status, and Trust in Ethical Consumption

Andorfer, Veronika A.; Liebe, Ulf
December 2013
European Sociological Review;Dec2013, Vol. 29 Issue 6, p1251
Academic Journal
This article addresses ethical consumer behavior and uses the purchase of Fair Trade (FT) coffee to gain insights into determinants of ‘moral behavior’ in the marketplace. Our primary concern is to clarify which theoretical concepts and determinants are more useful than others in explaining FT consumption. We compare the explanatory power of consumer budget restrictions, consumer identity, social and personal norms, social status, justice beliefs, and trust. Our second aim is methodological; we contrast data on self-reported consumption of FT coffee with experimental data on hypothetical choices of different coffee products. To gain insights into the robustness of our measurement and findings, we test our propositions using two samples of undergraduate students from Germany and the United States. Our data show that consumer identity and personal norms are the major determinants of FT consumption in both samples, the results from survey-based data and from our experimental data are similar in this regard. Further, we demonstrate that studies based on a limited number of determinants might overestimate effects; the effect of justice beliefs for instance vanishes if other determinants are taken into account.


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