An investigation into the impact that an organisation’s social ethics has on consumer buying behaviour within the retail sector.
The following study aims to establish the importance of social ethics in relation to consumers buying behaviour habits. This will be conducted through a critical analysis around what consumers understand as ethical and to what extent consumers prioritise an organisations production process. Why consumers do or do not shop ethically will be examined, along with identifying other factors which have an influence on purchasing decision. The existing literature indicates that there is a clear mismatch between how consumers portray their buying behaviour in regards to ethics and how this rarely converts into real life purchasing, which is identified as the attitude behaviour gap. Moreover the literature identifies the main issues to why consumers do not always consider an organisations ethics is; price; choice; and a lack of information about ethical clothing. These are then explored within the primary data in order to understand whether there is a difference between the consumer’s portrayal of themselves as being concerned about what they’re purchasing and how it is made, compared to the reality of their purchasing behaviour in practice. The data used within this study was collected using a mixed methods approach, combining a web-based survey with ninety-five participants and six semi-structured interviews. This gives the researcher the opportunity to gain structured, precise answers from a broader base of participants, as well as a further understanding of consumer’s feelings and opinions at an individual level. The findings illustrate how relevant the idea of the attitude behaviour gap is when determining consumers buying habits and the limiting significance of price and lack of information as impacting factors to why consumers do not shop for ethically produced garment. At the same time, the role of income was a more prominent issue than that previously found within existing literature.