Nav: Home

How the 'good feeling' can influence the purchase of sustainable chocolate

March 22, 2019

More and more products carry ethical labels such as fair-trade or organic, which consumers usually view positively. Nevertheless, the sales figures of these products often remain low, even though they offer advantages for the environment or for society. A team of scientists from the University of Göttingen has investigated to what extent factors which affect consumers' own benefit - such as the so-called "Warm Glow of Giving" - influence consumers' purchasing intentions. The "warm glow" is the personal benefit that people feel when they do good. The results were published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, an international scientific publication which covers environmental and sustainable research and practice.

The researchers from the working group "Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products" at the University of Göttingen studied how two groups - one from Germany and one from the United Kingdom - make virtual purchasing decisions. Each group consisted of around 450 consumers. Chocolate was available, which differed in terms of price, country of origin of the cocoa, and country of manufacture, as well as the ethical claims made. The claims were: organic, fair-trade and CO?-neutral. There was also an alternative which did not make any claims. Consumers then answered questions about their purchasing intentions, values and feelings when buying.

The result: in both countries the price is the most important decision criterion, followed by the ethical claims and the country of manufacture. In addition, the "warm glow" has a comparatively large influence on the purchasing intention - the prospect of getting a good feeling clearly attracts many consumers to buy products which make ethical claims. But the intention is often not put into practice: during the actual decision to buy, the influence of the "warm glow" is only relevant for fair-trade chocolate. The researchers assume that this is partly due to the strong association with the common good of the fair-trade label, which supports farmers in developing countries. "Other studies have shown that consumers also associate positive health aspects with organic food," says Sarah Iweala, first author of the study and doctoral student in the "Global Food" research training group. "Of course, this dilutes the label's association with the common good."

In addition, the degree of recognition of the logo seems to be important. Although consumers indicated that they felt good when they reduced their CO? footprint, this good feeling did not lead them to choose the CO? neutral product. This can be explained by the low profile of this particular ethical logo. In both countries, less than 20 percent of the participants stated that they had already seen "carbon neutral" branding while shopping. In contrast, over 90 percent of consumers were aware of the fair-trade logo. "If consumers don't know what a label stands for, they can't feel good about it when they shop and so it can't become a deciding factor in their shopping choices," says Professor Achim Spiller, Head of the working group "Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products".

"Our results show that in the marketing of ethical products, the social benefit should be communicated through a direct approach," the scientists concluded. "It is also important for marketing that labels can only have an effect on the market if they are known. Today's flood of frequently unknown labels is counterproductive".
Original publication: Iweala, S., Spiller, A., Meyerding, S. Buy good, feel good? The influence of the warm glow of giving on the evaluation of food items with ethical claims in the U.K. and Germany. Journal of Cleaner Production (2019).


Professor Achim Spiller
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Working group "Marketing for Food and Agricultural Products"
Telephone: +49 (0)551 39 26241

Sarah Iweala
Telephone: +49 (0)551 39 26249

University of Göttingen

Related Consumers Articles:

Is less more? How consumers view sustainability claims
Communicating a product's reduced negative attribute might have unintended consequences if consumers approach it with the wrong mindset.
In the sharing economy, consumers see themselves as helpers
Whether you use a taxi or a rideshare app like Uber, you're still going to get a driver who will take you to your destination.
Helping consumers in a crisis
A new study shows that the central bank tool known as quantitative easing helped consumers substantially during the last big economic downturn -- a finding with clear relevance for today's pandemic-hit economy.
'Locally grown' broccoli looks, tastes better to consumers
In tests, consumers in upstate New York were willing to pay more for broccoli grown in New York when they knew where it came from, Cornell University researchers found.
Should patients be considered consumers?
No, and doing so can undermine efforts to promote patient-centered health care, write three Hastings Center scholars in the March issue of Health Affairs.
Consumers choose smartphones mostly because of their appearance
The more attractive the image and design of the telephone, the stronger the emotional relationship that consumers are going to have with the product, which is a clear influence on their purchasing decision.
When consumers don't want to talk about what they bought
One of the joys of shopping for many people is the opportunity to brag about their purchases to friends and others.
As consumers, how do we decide what's 'best' when it's not clear?
Imagine you are choosing between two resorts for your island vacation.
Effects of ethnocentrism on consumers
Aitor Calvo-Turrientes, winner of the prize for End-of-Degree Project in Sustainability in 2015 awarded by the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, is the author of the paper 'The valuation and purchase of food products that combine local, regional and traditional features: The influence of consumer ethnocentrism,' published recently by the prestigious journal Food Quality and Preference.
Organic consumers mean business
Groundbreaking research from Aarhus BSS shows that organic consumers are standing fast and are buying more and more organic products following an increasingly predictable pattern.
More Consumers News and Consumers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.