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EMAC 2023 Annual

Round Up to Give Back: Are Consumers Willing to Pay More for Socially Sustainable Efforts of Food Retailers?

Published: May 24, 2023


Regina Harms, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf; Maike Westerhoff, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf; Jan Weidenstraß, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf; Nadine Gier, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf


As one of the triple bottom line dimensions of sustainability, social sustainability is one of the least explored. In contrast to the other dimensions, social sustainability is more complex as its reference point – the society – can be interpreted at different levels. Therefore, depending on the frame of reference, consumers might consider social sustainability to a different extent. Applying Construal Level Theory, using psychological distance and varying construal levels, message frames are created for an online experiment. In the online experiment, the effects of the message frames on different types of willingness to pay (willingness to pay more vs. willingness to round up payments) for socially sustainable projects are measured. The results indicate a willingness to round up payments for socially sustainable projects, especially for congruent message framing and local projects. Overall, communicating socially sustainable efforts publicly seems to be beneficial for food retailers.