La sensibilità del consumatore a comportamenti aziendali eticamente scorretti (Consumer sensitivity to unethical corporate behavior)

  • Giuseppe Bertoli
  • Bruno Busacca
  • Alessandro Calzetti
Keywords: alteration of product data; corporate social responsibility; brand image; self-esteem



Purpose of the paper: The paper analyzes: a) the effect of data alteration related to product sophistication and to product social responsibility on the consumer purchase intention; b) how these types of alteration interact with the brand image and individual self-esteem.

Methodology: The research is based on a between subjects experiment conducted on a sample of 200 consumers. The factorial design includes three independent variables: falsification of product data (product sophistication vs. product social responsibility); the brand image (strong vs. weak); and the individual self-esteem (high vs. low). The dependent variable is the consumer purchase intention.

Findings: The data obtained show that consumers are more negatively influenced by the alteration of data concerning product sophistication than product social responsibility. Secondly, the consumer purchase intention in the presence of the latter type of alteration is higher when the company has been able to develop a strong brand image. Thirdly, purchase intention is further enhanced if, in the presence of the same type of falsification of data, a strong brand image is associated to a high individual self-esteem.

Research limits: The survey did not consider the level of psychological involvement of the consumer in relation to ethical issues or the product category. Furthermore, the impact of brand loyalty and the perception of its uniqueness was not assessed. Thirdly, a single psychographic variable was examined.

Practical implications: The results obtained confirm the centrality of the information on the product, the importance of the brand image and the opportunity to segment consumers based on the degree of self-esteem. There are also significant implications for the protection of collective interests.

Originality of the paper: So far, the impact of different types of product data falsification on consumer purchase intention and their interaction with the brand image and the individual self-esteem has not received adequate attention.