A cross-cultural study on green consumerism and the use of ethical vs. self-interest benefits in (Fairtrade) ads.

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The choice for a certain ad appeal in global ethical advertising is of importance for MNC’s as it may positively or negatively influence consumers, from different cultural backgrounds (e.g. Individualist/Collectivist cultures), in terms of their Attitude towards the ad, Attitude towards the product, Behavioural intentions (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2004) and Attitude towards Fairtrade (De Pelsmacker & Janssen, 2007). Driven by consumers’ growing interest in “green” products, (global) marketers are therefore interested in which factors drive this “green” decision making (De Pelsmacker et al., 2005; Galarraga Gallestegio, 2012) and how they can persuade consumers with communications, to buy sustainable products (e.g. Fairtrade products), by using intrinsic appeals (ethical benefits) and extrinsic appeals (self-interest benefits) (Edinger-Schons et al., 2018; Yang et al., 2015). For example, Kim, Lee and Park (2010), advised marketers from collectivist cultures to focus on ethical benefits, whereas marketers from individualistic cultures may be more interested in self-interest benefits. However, despite the rapid growth of ethical products over the years, there is a clear paucity of research on how ad appeals are perceived and evaluated in different cultures in the realm of global ethical advertising (Diehl et al., 2016). Therefore, the present study examined the possible effect of using ethical and self-interest benefits (“Advertisement appeal”) when advertising products labelled as Fairtrade or non-Fairtrade (“Product category”), on both Dutch and Japanese ( “Nationality”) consumers’ Attitudes towards the ad, Attitudes towards the product, Behavioural intentions and Attitudes towards Fairtrade. In addition, this study also investigated to what extent Nationality, Ethical consumption values (ECV), Humane orientation and Long-term orientation (LTO) held predictive values for consumers’ Attitudes and Behavioural intentions. The Netherlands and Japan, were deliberately selected based on their opposite scores on the investigated three cultural dimensions. This exploratory study will thereby be the first that identified other important cultural values that might be related to the concept of “green consumerism” than Individualism/Collectivism only in the examination of advertisement appeals for (non-)Fairtrade products. A 2 x 2 x 2 between-subject design with as between-subject factors Country (the Netherlands vs. Japan), Advertisement appeal (ethical vs. self-interest benefits) and Product category (Fairtrade vs. not Fairtrade), was used in this study. In general the findings suggest that Advertisement appeal and Product category, in the food and beverage category, only marginally influenced the responses of both the Dutch and Japanese participants in terms of Attitude towards the ad, Attitude towards the product, Behavioural intentions and Attitude towards Fairtrade. Nationality itself, on the contrary, did seem to influence the three attitude variables. Results revealed that the Japanese seemed to prefer ads promoted through ethical benefits, rather than self-interest benefits. Furthermore, the Japanese revealed to have a more positive attitude regarding Fairtrade, but at the same time showed a less positive attitude towards ads that actually carried the Fairtrade logo. Moreover, results showed that, aside from Humane orientation in general and LTO, Nationality, ECV and Humane orientation regarding the in-group and out-group did hold predictive values for the attitude and behaviour variables. This study could therefore conclude that the choice for one appeal (either ethical or self-interest) in a single global ad strategy, could be equally effective as a more expensive local ad strategy in which, for example, the use of the ethical appeal might influence behaviour of at least the Japanese consumer. However, more research should be conducted with regard to ad appeals that explicitly refer to cultural dimensions that hold predictive values for attitude and behaviour variables. Keywords: Japan; Netherlands; green; consumerism; ad appeals; cross-cultural persuasive communications; advertising strategies; ethical; self-interest; benefits; cultural dimensions; global; Fairtrade; CSR
Faculteit der Letteren