Anticipated Guilt and Ethical Consumption: The Moderating Role of Consumers’ Socially Responsible Consumption Behaviour
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Recent research in the marketing literature has indicated that, while consumers’ interests in ethical products are growing, demand for such products still remains weak. Previous research has indicated that anticipated guilt can have a positive effect on ethical consumption. Thus, the objective of the current study is to investigate the moderating role of consumers’ socially responsible consumption behaviour (SRCB) on the relationship between anticipated guilt and ethical consumption. Specifically, the current study hypothesizes that, when viewing a guilt ad, high (vs. low) SRCB individuals will generate higher, ethical purchase intentions, willingness to pay an ethical premium, and attitudes toward an ethical brand. The findings from the two experimental studies indicate that, when viewing a guilt ad for an ethical product, high SRCB individuals are willing to pay a higher ethical premium and generate more favourable brand attitudes than low SRCB individuals. However, when viewing a non-guilt ad, high SRCB individuals did not differ from low SRCB individuals in their willingness to pay an ethical premium or brand attitudes. Further, consumers’ socially conscious self-identity was explored as a mediator of these effects. By understanding the moderating role that SRCB plays in the relationship between anticipated guilt and ethical consumption, this paper intends to assist marketers in understanding for which consumers a guilt appeal is an appropriate strategy in marketing ethical products.