Agricultural economists study the effect of the 'warm glow of giving'
Source: University of Göttingen
More and more products carry ethical labels such as fair-trade or organic, which consumers view positively. Nevertheless, the sales figures of these products often remain low, even though they offer advantages for the environment or for society. A team of scientists have investigated what factors influence consumers' purchasing intentions.
The researchers from the working group "Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products" at the University of Göttingen studied how two groups, one from Germany and one from the United Kingdom, make virtual purchasing decisions.
Each group consisted of around 450 consumers. Chocolate was available, which differed in terms of price, country of origin of the cocoa, and country of manufacture, as well as the ethical claims made. The claims were: organic, fair-trade and CO2-neutral.
There was also an alternative which did not make any claims. Consumers then answered questions about their purchasing intentions, values and feelings when buying.
The result: in both countries the price is the most important decision criterion, followed by the ethical claims and the country of manufacture. In addition, the "warm glow" has a comparatively large influence on the purchasing intention, the prospect of getting a good feeling clearly attracts many consumers to buy products which make ethical claims.
But the intention is often not put into practice: during the actual decision to buy, the influence of the "warm glow" is only relevant for fair-trade chocolate. The researchers assume that this is partly due to the strong association with the common good of the fair-trade label, which supports farmers in developing countries.