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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

Are Cheaper Products Considered Less Ethical by Consumers? Exploring the Role of Price as an Inferential Cue of Ethicality

Published: May 28, 2019


Anna-Lisa Olf, Europa-Universität Viadrina; Katja H. Brunk, Europa-Universität Viadrina


Consumer perceived ethicality (CPE); Inference making; Ethical consumption


In the absence of concrete product information, consumers can draw inter-attribute inferences by relying on available diagnostic cues to make predictions about an unknown product attribute. This paper examines the role of price as an inference cue for consumer perceived ethicality, depending on the product category. Conducting a 2 (FMCG: price low vs. high) by 2 (durable: price low vs. high) between-subjects experimental design, our results show that while cheaper durable goods are perceived to be less ethical, there are no differences in consumers’ perceived ethicality between high and low priced products in the FMCG category. Implications for theory-building, marketing managers and consumers are discussed as well as future research opportunities derived.