Three Essays on the Effects of Ethical Attributes on Private Label and National Brands
AbstractEthical attributes and social responsibility initiatives have become an important focus of attention among marketing researchers and practitioners. My dissertation focuses on how consumers respond to introducing product-related social responsibility initiatives/ethical attributes (i.e., attributes that reflect concern about social and environmental issues; Luchs et al. 2010) for different tiers of retailers’ private label brands (paper 1), brand attributes (paper 2), and brand concepts (paper 3). In paper one, building on research in social responsibility and evolutionary psychology, we introduce a conceptual model and opposing predictions to explore how social responsibility initiatives can be integrated into different quality tiers (high vs. low) of retailers’ private label brands (PLBs). The results of two experiments show that social responsibility initiatives enhanced consumer evaluations of high-tier PLBs but hurt consumer evaluations of low-tier PLBs. These findings were more consistent with an explanation based on resource synergy beliefs rather than costly signaling theory. In paper two, we focus on other brand attributes that may affect offering ethical attributes to PLBs and manufacturers’ national brands (NBs). Building on cue utilization theory (Burnkrant, 1978; Jacoby, Olson, & Haddock 1971), the findings of this paper was twofold. First, ethical attributes enhance PLB evaluations only in the presence of extrinsic cues signaling high quality (i.e., high price or high retailer reputation), and this effect is mediated by consumers’ product quality perceptions. Second, ethical attributes do not affect NB evaluations in the presence of ethical attributes regardless of the extrinsic quality cues. In paper three, we shift our attention to the type of ethical attributes (i.e., symbolic vs. utilitarian) and their congruity with the brand concept of symbolic national brands and utilitarian private label brands. Three experiments show that a congruity between ethical attribute type and brand concept (e.g., a symbolic ethical attribute for a symbolic NB) enhances consumer brand evaluations whereas an incongruity between ethical attribute type and brand concept (e.g., a symbolic ethical attribute for a utilitarian PLB) mitigates brand evaluations. This effect is mediated by perceived congruity.
Tofighi, Maryam <http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/view/creators/Tofighi=3AMaryam=3A=3A.html> (2016) Three Essays on the Effects of Ethical Attributes on Private Label and National Brands. PhD thesis, Concordia University.