Willingness to pay for socially responsible products: case of cotton apparel

Jung E. Ha‐Brookshire (University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Pamela S. Norum (University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Publication date: 2 August 2011



This study seeks to investigate significant factors influencing consumers' willingness to pay a premium for three different socially responsible products – organic cotton, sustainable cotton, and US‐grown cotton shirts.


Through random‐digit‐dialing, the study data were collected from 500 respondents nationally via telephone surveys. The survey data were analyzed using stepwise regression and mean comparisons.


More than half of the respondents indicated that they were willing to pay a premium for organic, sustainable, and US‐grown cotton shirts ($5.00 or more for these cotton shirts at the $30.00 retail value). Consumer attitudes toward socially responsible apparel, attitudes toward environment, age, and gender were found to be significant factors for consumers' willingness to pay a premium. Four apparel product evaluative criteria, brand name, laundering requirements, color, and fit, were also found to be important for consumers' willingness to pay a premium.

Research limitations/implications

Generalization from the study findings must be assumed with care due to the telephone survey mode.

Practical implications

Apparel businesses planning to offer organic, sustainable, or US‐grown cotton apparel products may want to emphasize certain tangible benefits, such as strong brand, reasonable price, easy care, color, and fit, concurrently with intangible benefits, such as feeling good by helping society and environment.


The findings showed relationships among attitudes, product evaluative criteria, demographic characteristics, and willingness to pay a premium for three different options of socially responsible cotton apparel, in order to help close the gap between attitudes and behavior in consumer research.



Ha‐Brookshire, J. and Norum, P. (2011), "Willingness to pay for socially responsible products: case of cotton apparel", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 344-353. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363761111149992

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