Will consumers pay a premium for ethical information?

Robert E. Carter (Assistant Professor based at the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

Social Responsibility Journal

ISSN: 1747-1117

Publication date: 2 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that may influence a consumer to pay a premium for a product or service communicating ethical information.


A survey was administered to 77 subjects and a conceptual model of five specific inter‐related constructs was tested using LISREL.


There is a sequence of events that leads consumers to be willing to pay a premium for a product communicating ethical information. This sequence starts with the need for information which, in turn, leads to socially responsible behavior and social sacrifice and, finally, to the intention to pay a premium. Importantly, this sequence is positively moderated by monetary resources available to spend in the category.

Research limitations/implications

To increase generalizability, this study should be replicated among other sample compositions and for additional products and/or services.

Practical implications

The research details the multi‐step consumer decision‐making process that marketers need to understand in order to market a premium priced product that delivers a social benefit.


Socially responsible behavior is not sufficient by itself for a consumer to pay a premium for a product communicating ethical information. Rather, socially responsible behavior leads to a willingness to make a sacrifice which then leads to intentions to pay a premium price.



Carter, R. (2009), "Will consumers pay a premium for ethical information?", Social Responsibility Journal, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 464-477. https://doi.org/10.1108/17471110910995339

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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