The responsibility of an ethnocentric consumer – nationalistic, patriotic or environmentally conscientious? A critical discourse analysis of “buy domestic” campaigns

Tiia-Lotta Pekkanen (School of Business and Management, LUT University, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Visa Penttilä (Department of Management and Organisation, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 8 August 2020

Issue publication date: 6 April 2021

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1658

Abstract

Purpose

The study examines the responsibilisation of an ethnocentric consumer in commercial, meta-organisational discourses. In addition to nationalistic and patriotic discourses, the focus is on wider conceptualisations of consumer responsibility.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses critical discourse analysis as a methodological approach to conduct an empirical case study on the texts of two producer-driven labelling campaigns.

Findings

The campaign texts create possibilities for ethnocentric consumption with positioning, argumentative and classificatory discourses. Patriotic responsibilisation is emphasised, together with rationales to take action on environmental concerns.

Practical implications

The study highlights the responsibility of marketers over their corporate responsibility communication, suggesting that ethnocentric promotions may have the power to alter how consumers take action on various responsibility concerns.

Social implications

The study surfaces the tensions that responsible consumption can entail for consumers. Indeed, nationalistic and patriotic discourses may alter our understanding of responsibility issues that may seem completely separate from the concepts of nationalism and patriotism.

Originality/value

The paper shows how different organisational texts are deployed to bring about the idea of ethnocentric consumption and how this relates to responsibility discourses, nationalism and patriotism.

Keywords

Citation

Pekkanen, T.-L. and Penttilä, V. (2021), "The responsibility of an ethnocentric consumer – nationalistic, patriotic or environmentally conscientious? A critical discourse analysis of “buy domestic” campaigns", International Marketing Review, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 300-320. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-06-2019-0163

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Tiia-Lotta Pekkanen and Visa Penttilä

License

Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode


1. Introduction

Globalisation has recently faced counterforces from nationalistic tendencies. The political arena has seen the rise of populist right-wing parties, while protectionist policies have gained strength. Currently, there has been the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which is also likely to bring new nuances into the ethnocentric rhetoric. As an example of this phenomenon, citizens are responsibilised in the name of protecting domestic jobs and the national economy through “buy domestic” campaigns, which can be commercially or state led (OECD, 2010; Lekakis, 2017). These campaigns aim at promoting ethnocentric consumption, favouring domestic products at the expense of foreign substitutes (Shimp and Sharma, 1987; Bizumic, 2019; Shankarmahesh, 2006). At the same time, local consumer identities are constantly negotiated by global trends in consumer culture (Strizhakova and Coulter, 2019; Cleveland and Bartch, 2019). For instance, social and environmental crises have become more and more global, and there have been calls to employ consumer choice and responsibility to help alleviate these issues (Giesler and Veresieu, 2014; Kipp and Hawkins, 2019). These pressures do not just concretise political, economic and environmental macro-tendencies; they also present consumers with potentially contradictory ways of acting responsibly. In other words, consumption has become the site of a discursive struggle over the meaning of consumer responsibility (Hobson, 2010; Gössling and Peeters, 2007; Caruana and Crane, 2008). However, the aspects of responsibility around ethnocentric consumption have not been explicitly discussed in international marketing literature.

The current study examines the concept of ethnocentric consumption in light of responsibility, extending prevalent understanding of how ethnocentric consumption is constituted. Empirically, we conduct a critical discourse analysis of two producer-driven Finnish labelling campaigns; these campaigns allow for exploration of the ethnocentric responsibilisation of a consumer beyond what is usually discussed in the literature on economic nationalism or ethnocentric consumption – that is, beyond patriotism and nationalism (Castelló and Mihelj, 2018; Shimp and Sharma, 1987). Traditionally, the international marketing literature has focused on ethnocentrism largely as an individual trait (Shimp and Sharma, 1987; Shankarmahesh, 2006), guiding the implications for international marketing strategy (Steenkamp, 2019; Fong et al., 2014). Moreover, the study illuminates the ways in which “buy domestic” campaigns funnel macro-tendencies into the possibilities for consumer action. Although the impact of the political and economic environment on ethnocentric consumption has been acknowledged (Shankarmahesh, 2006; Balabanis et al., 2002; Bizumic, 2019), little seems to be known about the specific mechanisms that connect individual subjects to their contexts. The current study addresses this gap by analysing organisational discourses to understand how nationalistic tendencies and the responsibility of consumption are brought together to inform ethnocentric consumption practices. The study conceptualises the discursive mechanisms that provide the conditions of possibility for such practices to emerge.

2. Responsibility in ethnocentric consumption

Responsibility in consumption studies is most commonly understood through social and/or environmental responsibility (Carrington et al., 2020). Sometimes, economic responsibility is included, too, especially in studies on sustainable consumption (Bruntdland Commission, 1987). The terminology around consumption ethics is voluminous and reflects different research traditions (Garcia-Ruiz and Rodriguez-Lluesma, 2014; Carrington et al., 2020). Ethnocentric consumption, in turn, is thought to be driven by concern for the national economy, especially for the loss of domestic jobs (Shimp and Sharma, 1987). The responsibility of ethnocentric consumption, in other words, carries both social and economic connotations. However, despite the clear responsibility dimensions, ethnocentric consumption is not discussed within consumption ethics studies (see Carrington et al., 2020). From a responsibility perspective, however, ethnocentric consumption shares common ground with several concepts used in responsible consumption studies.

Ethnocentric consumption is seen as a way to contribute towards change in the economic and/or political sphere. Here, the concept shares common ground with what is called political consumerism (Castelló and Mihelj, 2018), which is a form of economic action taken in the name of a cause – particularly with respect to political influence (Bossy, 2014; Holzer, 2006). Thus, ethnocentric consumption can be seen as a form of political consumerism. Ethnocentric consumption and political consumption can be realised through similar acts, such as boycotts or buycotts (Rössel and Schenk, 2018). However, political consumption often extends the scope from favouring products of certain national origin to wider aspects of responsibility (Rössel and Schenk, 2018).

The responsibility in ethnocentric consumption studies carries a nationalistic connotation (Shimp and Sharma, 1987; Upadhyay and Singh, 2006), which may explain why it does not overlap with other consumption responsibility studies. The concept of ethnocentric consumption derives from Sumner's (1906/2007) ideas on ethnocentrism, which are charged with nationalistic sentiment. Contempt for outsiders is characteristic of Sumner's (1906/2007 p. 13) ethnocentrism; he formulated the phenomenon as originating from particular social relations: “[l]oyalty to the group, sacrifice for it, hatred and contempt for outsiders, brotherhood within, warlikeness without,—all grow together, common products of the same situation”.

The feeling of superiority over out-groups is at the heart of definitions of nationalism (Adorno et al., 1950; Druckman, 1994). Superiority towards other nations is also considered the dividing line between nationalism and patriotism (Adorno et al., 1950; Feshbach, 1987; Kosterman and Feshbach, 1989; Karasawa, 2002). Both concepts have in common a love-like feeling towards one's own nation, but the concepts differ in their relationship towards out-groups. Patriotism is not seen as implying prejudice towards other cultures, nations and countries – whereas nationalism carries the connotation of superiority over out-groups (Adorno et al., 1950; Feshbach, 1987). These conceptualisations and conceptual distinctions are adopted by the (international) marketing literature (e.g. Balabanis et al., 2001; Vida and Reardon, 2008; Bizumic, 2019).

The concept of ethnocentrism was introduced to the marketing and consumer behaviour literature by Shimp and Sharma (1987). Their quantitative scale (CETSCALE), which reflects the level of consumers' ethnocentric tendencies, is widely used in marketing studies (e.g. Balabanis and Diamantopoulos, 2004; Steenkamp and de Jong, 2010; Cleveland et al., 2009; Evanschitzky et al., 2008; Yildiz et al., 2018). Shimp and Sharma's (1987) scale of ethnocentric consumption tendencies reflects Sumner's (1906/2007) conceptualisation of ethnocentrism. Thus, nationalism is an inherent part of the CETSCALE. Upadhyay and Singh (2006) find that the 17 items forming the CETSCALE load on four factors: nationalism, socio-economic conservatism, protectionism and ultra-nationalism.

However, the question of whether ethnocentric consumption behaviour is nationalistic is not a straightforward matter. Studies have considered nationalism as an antecedent (Balabanis et al., 2001) and mediator (Bizumic, 2019) to ethnocentric consumption tendencies. The literature appears somewhat elusive because ethnocentric consumption tendencies already comprise an inherent nationalistic component. Siamagka and Balabanis (2015) propose a reconceptualisation of consumer ethnocentric preferences; their construct includes altruism towards the national economy originating from patriotic love (see also Sharma et al., 1995; Vida and Reardon, 2008). Balabanis et al. (2001) find that instead of nationalism, patriotism drives ethnocentric consumption in some contexts.

Moreover, consumers may prefer domestic products for reasons that do not obviously connect to nationalism. The concept of local consumer culture embraces consumption in relation to the local marketplace and its cultural meanings (Arnould and Thompson, 2005; Steenkamp, 2019). Building on Arnould and Thompson (2005), Steenkamp (2019, p. 3) formulates local consumer culture as “a social arrangement in which the relations between lived culture and social resources, and between meaningful ways of life and the symbolic and material resources on which they depend, are locally conceived and are mediated through geographically anchored, local markets”. These “meaningful ways of life”, which consumption enables, do not necessarily imply a nationalistic disposition, even though the mediating marketplace is local or domestic. For instance, environmental protection may play a crucial role in forming local consumer cultures around food consumption (Kennedy et al., 2018; Götze and Brunner, 2020).

Finally, other research traditions may treat nationalism in relation to ethnocentric consumption differently than what is presented here. For example, the terms ethnocentric consumption and consumer nationalism are sometimes used interchangeably to denote the favouring of domestic products over foreign ones. However, studies on consumer nationalism often draw on humanities and social science research, further problematising the concept of nationalism in relation to consumption. For example, Wang (2005, pp. 223–224) uses consumer nationalism to refer to “consumers' invocation of collective identities based on their nationality to accept or reject products or brands from other counties”. Castelló and Mihelj (2018, p. 6) define consumer nationalism more broadly as ‘a set of discourses and practices that attach national significance to consumer objects'. Consumer nationalism, in other words, is seen as a form of banal nationalism, following Billig's (1995) definition. Banal nationalism refers to various mundane representations of nations that eventually build on a sense of shared national belonging.

To summarise, ethnocentric consumption is understood mainly through nationalistic discourses. However, ethnocentric consumption can share a conceptual common ground or common borderlines with other conceptualisations of responsibility. The approach in the current paper opens up the analysis to wider ideas of responsibility in constructing ethnocentric consumption.

3. A discursive perspective on the responsibility of ethnocentric consumption

Studies on ethnocentric consumption build heavily on an individualist paradigm (Shankarmahesh, 2006; Siamagka and Balabanis, 2015; Cleveland et al., 2009; Sharma, 2015), understanding consumer ethnocentrism as “a trait-like property of individuals” personalities (Sharma et al., 1995, p. 27). Thus, the responsibility of an ethnocentric consumer stems from an individual's moral and socio-normative cognitive perceptions about the consumption of domestic versus foreign goods. Personal values, demographic factors and personality characteristics have been commonly presented as affecting ethnocentric consumption (Balabanis et al., 2002; Rawwas and Rajendran, 1996; Shimp and Sharma, 1987), whereas the role of the economic, political and societal environment in informing ethnocentric buying behaviour remains a less-explored topic (Shankarmahesh, 2006; Balabanis et al., 2002; Crockett and Pendarvis, 2017). Although some studies do consider the societal context on ethnocentric consumption (Steenkamp and de Jong, 2010; Siamagka and Balabanis, 2015; Good and Huddleston, 1995; Strizhakova and Coulter, 2015), these studies tend to take societal factors as a given and as beyond the agency of definable entities. In other words, little is known about the mechanisms through which the societal context is funnelled to ethnocentric consumption tendencies.

Consuming individuals have also been examined in relation to societal structures. The responsible consumer-citizen is most commonly understood in the context of neoliberalism (Trnka and Trundle, 2014; Shamir, 2008); this approach conceptualises the decentralisation of markets, where free and highly aware consumers make individual choices to solve the environmental, social and economic problems of the world. Moreover, several authors – such as Arnould and Thompson (2005), Karababa and Ger (2011) and Borgerson (2005) – have noted that the impact of structural conditions on the creation of a consumer subject has remained absent in consumer research. As an alternative approach, Giesler and Veresiu (2014) argue that the creation of responsible consumer subjectivity requires active and purposeful management. Building on the theories on governmentality, Giesler and Veresiu (2014) propose a model of responsibilising consumers, demonstrating how responsible consumer subjectivity is created in the World Economic Forum's initiatives to solve social problems. They argue that the process of responsibilisation transforms the governmental responsibility into the shared responsibility of consumer subjects.

The current paper introduces critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a conceptual framework to systematically capture the constitutive nature of politico-economic institutions in creating consumer subjectivity in ethnocentric consumption. Consumers' concerns become actionable only through discourses that render these consumers – and the consumption itself – intelligible and that define opportunities for action. Organisations, both private (de Burg-Woodman and King, 2013) and public (Duffy and Ng, 2019), are active creators of such discourses.

The current study builds on the idea that organisational discourses, as forms of corporate communication, actively influence the social reality of a citizen-consumer (Caruana and Crane, 2008). A discourse can be defined as a collection of texts and related practices that bring objects into being (Phillips and Oswick, 2012). CDA can be seen as a set of theories and methods for investigating the connections between discourses and socio-cultural changes in various social spheres (Jørgensen and Phillips, 2002). CDA analyses the connections between – on the one hand – texts, communicative events and discursive practices and – on the other hand – social and cultural structures and relations (Fairclough, 1993). Although these links have been modelled in various ways (Jørgensen and Phillips, 2002), the current study draws on organisational discourse analyses (in its critical forms) (Caruana and Crane, 2008; Hardy and Phillips, 1999; Phillips and Hardy, 1997) because some main sources of texts related to ethnocentric and responsible consumption are the various organisations that promote it.

A central tenet of organisational discourse analysis is its attention to language – not as a reflection of reality but as a constructive force that defines what reality is (Hardy et al., 2005). Discourse analysis “tries to explore the ways in which the socially produced ideas and objects that populate the world come to be, or are enacted, through discourse” (Phillips and Oswick, 2012, p. 443). Thus, the produced texts can be viewed as “ruling in” certain possibilities for social structures and relations while ruling out others. The organising practices of ethnocentric and responsible consumption are instantiated in the texts comprising the discourse. That is, these texts provide the resources for organising social reality in a way that is conducive to a particular type of consumption. From this point of view, ethnocentric consumption and consumer responsibility become a complex set of ideas that are sustained in and through language and related practices. Because critical discourse analysis draws particular attention to the power relations between different entities, it is especially useful in considering a phenomenon with unstable and contested meanings.

A central focus of organisational discourse analysis involves how discourses construct concepts, objects and subject positions and establishes the power relations between them (Hardy and Phillips, 2004). Drawing on Fairclough and Foucault, concepts are defined by Hardy and Phillips (1999, pp. 3–4) as “ideas, categories, relationships, and theories through which we understand the world”. Objects are seen as concepts that have material referents and subject positions as the ways in which subjects are formed through a discourse. For example, in dominant discourses, the concept of “concerned citizens” is understood revolving around markets rather than being predetermined and separate from the texts that define it (Caruana and Crane, 2008). Thus, the subjectivity of a responsible consumer is an effect of the discourses that construct such a position.

CDA can also grasp the overlaps between discourses through the concept of interdiscursivity. The analysis of “interdiscursivity of a text is analysis of the particular mix of genres, of discourses, and of styles upon which it draws, and of how different genres, discourses or styles are articulated (‘worked’) together in the text” (Fairclough, 2003, p. 218). Such combinations of articulations can be seen at work in discursive and societal changes (Jørgensen and Phillips, 2002). These overlaps are at the core of the analytical framework because the focus is to point out how ethnocentric meanings and responsible consumption are configured with each other. The next section presents how the analysis is conducted to answer the following research question: How is ethnocentric consumption enabled through discourses of nationalism and patriotism, and how are consumers responsibilised through such discourses and potentially other discourses related to ethnocentric consumer responsibility?

4. Methods and materials

4.1 The case: Finnish producer-driven labelling organisations and their campaigns

To answer the research question, the authors conducted an empirical study on two labelling organisations and their campaigns, both in the Finnish context. Finland offers a timely example of the nationalistic political trend in Europe [1]. Also, Finland is being profiled as a particularly sustainable country [2]. Neither of these is in immediate relation to consumption practices as such. However, as particularly salient contextual factors, that might affect how the responsibility of consumption is understood, they provide an interesting societal backdrop for examining consumption discourses regarding responsibility and nationalism.

In contrast to previous studies, the labelling organisations and their communications – rather than the activities of individual corporations – were selected as the case studies. Indeed, these labelling organisations are important producers of the discourses related to responsible consumption because their non-firm-specific communications are used to change people's attitudes towards the topic. Labelling organisations can also be seen as forging network links among different actors, both organisational and individual, through the production of texts (Hardy and Phillips, 2004, p. 207). Thus, they become crucial agents in propagating discourses around a particular type of consumption.

The empirical analysis focuses on two labelling organisations and their communications to promote products and services of Finnish origin: the Association of Finnish Work, with its key-flag label and its Blue-White Footprint campaign (hereafter, “BW campaign”) and the Association for Finnish Food Information and its Produce of Finland (PoF) label. Information on the labelling organisations, the campaigns and their labels are summarised in Table 1.

4.2 Data collection and analysis methods

To examine the labelling organisations and their campaigns, data were collected from the organisations' websites from 2014 to 2016. The time frame was selected because of the Association for Finnish Work's particular focus on the BW campaign during this period. However, the collection of texts was expanded from this initial focus to more fully explore the discourse on ethnocentric consumption. This was achieved by holistically gathering the corporate communications produced by the organisations during this time because these texts also provide the context for understanding the campaigns. The data gathering was then extended to other communications of the Association of Finnish Work – and to those of the Association of Finnish Food Information and its PoF labelling campaign. Texts related to these organisations were examined to explore the interdiscursive processes related to responsibility and nationalistic and patriotic discourses. In particular, examining the PoF campaign enabled the contrasting of the BW campaign with the other organisation's texts and to explore the similarities and differences among the texts.

Both labelling organisations have produced and published a variety of texts, both on their websites and physical products. These include press releases; research publications; and general information about certifications, their criteria and use. These texts also include narratives about certified companies, with an explicit promotional intent. Generally, communications can be seen as intentional texts produced to induce ethnocentric consumption; the texts are intended to be consumed widely in different instances: through media, campaigns and advertisements, on Facebook pages and in shops in a nationally limited area. The data from the Association for Finnish Work consists of 193 news articles, 38 research reports, 156 press releases and 62 blog posts. The complementary data of the PoF campaign comprise the contents of their web pages as of March 2017, including press releases back to 2014. There were 37 websites, and 27 press releases included in the analysis.

The data analysis proceeded in three steps. First, we oriented ourselves with the collected materials by reading and rereading the texts and making notes about nationalism, patriotism and responsibility. Second, both authors individually carried out a theoretically oriented analysis of the texts by coding passages of the data in accordance with the critical discourse analysis framework. To help focus on this process, we sought to answer the following questions: How are particular subjects positioned regarding ethnocentric consumption and the responsibility of consumption? How is ethnocentric consumption and responsibility of consumption argued for? How are classes of appropriate consumption objects for ethnocentric and responsible consumption constituted? These questions led us to concentrate on how consumers were conceptualised through different types of texts and wordings (such as consumer research reports); how the text established conceptual relations among consumption practices and abstract phenomena (e.g. the economy and labour); and how objects of consumption were brought into being with the texts. We used descriptive categories, such as “typical Finnish consumer” and “economic calculations” to pinpoint the aforementioned discourse analytical constructs in the texts. Third, we compared and discussed our respective analyses and combined our insights into a holistic framework to understand the role of discourse in responsibilising ethnocentric consumption. The quotes shown in the analysis section were considered particularly illustrative examples of the analytical dimensions. A supplementary data table is provided in Appendix.

To ensure the rigour and consistency of the critical discourse analysis, we drew on the general principles of qualitative marketing research and constructionist research (Moisander and Valtonen, 2006; Potter, 1996). Because of its basis in social constructionism, traditional ways of understanding reliability and validity are not applicable (Potter, 1996). However, the materials studied do “place limits on the specific ways in which they can be interpreted and understood” (Moisander and Valtonen, 2006, p. 26). Potter (1996, p. 21) has noted that “[p]erhaps the most important and distinctive feature in the validation of discourse work is the presentation of rich and extended materials in a way that allows readers of discourse studies to evaluate their adequacy”. The analysis is presented so that there is a possibility to evaluate our interpretation. Moreover, Moisander and Valtonen (2006, p. 27) emphasise that “cultural researchers should pay particular attention to theoretical transparency” because the theoretical framework foregrounds certain interpretations at the expense of others. Thus, we were explicit regarding the concepts with which the discourse analytical focus provided.

5. Findings

5.1 Embedding consumption in a national context

Discourses are maintained and challenged through texts in the interactions that take place in particular societal contexts (Hardy and Phillips, 1999). That is, discourses are not separate from their societal-historical environments. The examined “buy domestic” promotions construct “Finnishness” as a central – albeit not the only – criterion for appropriate consumption. Thus, consumption is not a neutrally definable signifier but a contested concept with contextually dependent meanings (see Caruana and Crane, 2008).

The campaigns delineate a sphere of consumer action within a fixed nation-state, in accordance with the inbuilt logic in ethnocentric “buy domestic” campaigns (Lekakis, 2017). The national context is not, however, a neutral resource. Instead, it is made relevant in the campaign texts by selectively drawing on its possible meanings. This opens up the opportunity to select discourses that appeal to consumers in a particular context and bring them together to construct possibilities for ethnocentric and responsible consumption. By relying on the ideals of a contained and imagined nation, the texts of both campaigns connect to the other's texts and discourses (Hardy and Phillips, 2004).

A vivid illustration of the BW campaign's idea is seen in the rules of proper use of the campaign logo for the organisations taking part in it:

Blue-white footprint is an ideology. Each Finn leaves her blue-white footprint on our society. [Slogan:] ‘By buying Finnish products and services you increase the Finnish welfare'. (2014 November, BW campaign info)

In this excerpt, the effect of consumption choices is conceptualised with the term footprint, a common term used in evaluating the effect of consumption on the environment. However, rather than conceiving of the footprint as something that should be minimised, the campaign turns the metaphor upside down, emphasising the importance of enlarging the footprint. Regarding responsible consumption, this shifts the emphasis from the amount consumed to the quality of consumption. The interdiscursivity of ethnocentric consumption to an environmentally conscientious discourse using this metaphor is pertinent throughout the campaign because it functions as the visual epitome of the blue-white ideology. The colours are those of the Finnish flag, underscoring the ideal of a self-sustaining country where everyone's obligation is to increase their consumption footprint. By drawing on such ideals and establishing interdiscursive links, the campaign effectively structures consumer responsibility around a nationally bounded society.

Using the footprint to illustrate the effects of ethnocentric consumption serves as an interdiscursive example at its purest because it uses widely established conceptualisation in a context that is different from its original use in environmentally responsible consumption discourse. For the consumer, however, the use of the footprint may appear as a discrete hint of the embedded responsibility in its multitude meanings. In the PoF campaign, the embedding of responsibility in the national context is straightforward; the campaign establishes the responsibility of consumption in a clear statement:

Choosing Finnish food is a responsible act.

(Produce of Finland website as of March 2017, Why Choose Finnish)

By eating food from Finnish farms and nature, we bear the responsibility over the ecological and ethical impacts of food production. (2015 February, Produce of Finland press release)

By stating that Finnish food is a responsible choice, the campaign constructs a conceptual perimeter around consumption – one with national borders. It ties together consumption and production and encloses them within a national context, leading towards the ideal of a self-sustained country. The PoF campaign further represents the choice as in “our hands”, allocating the responsibility to the citizens, in much the same way as the BW campaign allocates this responsibility to their “footprints”. Both campaigns can be seen as a “move from political ritual to commercial ritual that,—betokens an eclipse of the state by the market as the reference point for national belonging” (Foster, 1999, p. 264). Rather than locating citizenship in legally defined rights and obligations, these campaigns shift the focus to consumer behaviour. Consumption is framed as primarily increasing the welfare of society as a whole over the welfare of the individual. This subjugates the individual consumer to the greater good of nationally bounded societal welfare. The campaign texts include “each Finn” in the discourse; it is not just the people who are willing to participate in the campaign. Thus, responsible consumption draws selectively on possible articulations of what Finnishness means.

5.2 Establishing the Finnish consumer as a subject of consumption

The campaigns embed themselves in the pre-existing discourses of a bounded nation-state. However, a national context may be too vague to warrant a subject position for an ethnocentric consumer. Today, consumption is characterised by international trade. This eventually necessitates stronger arguments for specifying that consumption should take place within the national context. A step towards the practice of ethnocentric consumption is the creation of a position from which consumer subjects can speak and take action on different responsibility concerns. This is achieved through positioning interdiscourses, which locate the consumer in a particular, nationally bounded position.

To reinforce a sense of national belonging, the BW campaign utilises consumer research texts to “reveal” what Finnish consumers are like. The Association for Finnish Labour conducted several pieces of research on consumption patterns and opinions of people who live in Finland. These texts are portrayed in the BW campaign materials. Using the research genre is a way to enhance the credibility of the campaigns, as particular genres can be influential in creating discourses (Hardy and Phillips, 2004). These research reports can be seen as establishing knowledge of consumer subjects. It is not a neutral undertaking, however, because the research texts are produced in the context of the labelling association and connect with the organisation's other texts. This is the point where nationality and consumption practices are articulated together: these research texts establish links between citizenship discourse and consumerism. The following excerpt illustrates a typical highlight of such research in defining Finnish consumers and consumption:

In an earlier campaign research, it was revealed that 84 percent of Finnish people favour Finnish products every time it is possible. According to [marketing director], origin labels help to have an effect with everyday choices. According to our research, consumption choices are made to affect Finnish employment and create societal good. (2016 September, BW campaign research release)

Although such research texts can be interpreted as promotional, the meanings they establish and draw on are more nuanced. These studies strive to normalise Finnish consumption by presenting percentages, proportions and majority trends around particular consumption behaviours. These statistical explorations can be seen as establishing identity for a class of responsible Finnish consumers. By showing “how, when, and what a Finnish person consumes”, they strive to locate the subjects of their discourse with scientific accuracy. This is achieved by emphasising the proportion of people participating in certain practices related to the campaigns' goals. Thus, these campaign texts forge interdiscursive links between ethnocentric consumption and consumer research to locate the subject in the texts.

The campaign draws on and reinforces various stereotypes of Finnish culture. Christmas and Midsummer, for example, are particularly salient events in Finnish culture. Thus, the BW campaign can be seen as building its consumer research reports on traditionally oriented ways of understanding individual subjects in their cultural contexts. These instances provide ample possibilities for consumers to understand themselves as Finnish people with stable identities. The same logic is evident in the PoF campaign, too.

In building subject positions, the PoF campaign relies less on figures to profile Finnish consumers. Instead, it normalises the Finnish consumer through traditional cultural imagery. The campaign utilises both visual and verbal appeal to create unity through images that are commonly associated with national identification. The site features, for example, numerous photographs of nature in the national romanticism style previously used in the nineteenth century for national identity building. The label itself features a swan – the national bird of Finland. The campaign also uses general discourses on more modern ways of understanding Finnishness and Finland:

Finland's position as the northern-most developed country with agricultural production renders Finnish produce unique. Clean land and air, plentiful clean water resources, the quality of education and high technological expertise are our main assets. (Produce of Finland website, as of March 2017; The Arctic Basis)

The positioning interdiscourse operates by placing consumers in a nationally stereotypic cultural context with descriptions of their position as carriers of cultural heritage – as performed through consumption practices. The individual's part in maintaining and developing the domestic food culture is clearly emphasised. As the Finnish consumer is identified as interested in domestic food culture, the origins of food and the societal and political impact of food production, the consumer is given an opportunity to realise a broader sense of national identity.

These texts provide discursive materials for defining a Finnish consumer. The positioning interdiscourses build on the national context, drawing on a sense of national belonging, which strengthen the consumers' position to take action on ethnocentric consumption tendencies. The responsibility of consumption implied for such subjects is not, however, clearly defined because it necessitates the conceptual relations between these subjects and their consumption practices.

5.3 Rationales for responsibility around ethnocentric consumption

The discourses around ethnocentric consumption must define their sphere of effect and rationale for morally higher ground. This national sphere of effect only establishes a stage of action, one that necessitates further ideational relations. In the campaigns, these rationales appear in various ways: from economic calculations to more ambiguous statements of environmental, social and ethical impacts. By relating consumers' actions to their effects, the texts provide a conceptual basis for specific consumption practices. These textual resources form the argumentative interdiscourses.

The mission of the BW campaign is rather straightforward: to promote societally responsible consumption by emphasising how consumers affect the welfare of Finnish society in terms of job creation. This is in line with the rationales for ethnocentric consumption (Shimp and Sharma, 1987). The central claim is that if each Finn spent 10 euros more on domestic products, this would create 10,000 new jobs annually. Given this premise, the whole campaign builds on constructing ways to spend the extra 10 euros a month. Behind this claim are input–output calculations made by a Finnish economist in the 1960s. These calculations are repeated in many of the campaign texts – either as minor side notes or as emphatic headings; they can be seen as providing the necessary conceptual relationship to connect the constructed subject position with a rationale for action:

If every Finn used 10 euros more a month to buy Finnish products and services, it would create 10,000 jobs, the CEO [of the Finnish Labour Alliance] summarises in an event for partners. Sounds incredible, but behind these figures are accurate economic calculations. Even the small deeds have an effect. (2014 January, BW campaign press release)

The economic rationale is also crucial for constructing a sense of agency. It is not just because consumers live in Finland that they can take up the subject position of a Finnish consumer. It is also because they have the economic resources to influence the wellbeing of the whole country, constructing the possibilities for action. The possibility for action is emphasised in that 10 euros is enough to bring about a significant change in societal welfare. Thus, the possibility to partake in the campaign is not dependent on the economic position of an individual; this is very much in line with participatory practices of democracies.

Although these calculations are a theoretical simplification, they may carry a certain appeal to a consumer because it is easy to imagine a straightforward cause-and-effect relationship between domestic consumption and increasing demand for domestic labour. The calculation creates an interdiscursive relation with a text of theoretical economic discourse. Paradoxically, the economic argumentation of the campaign goes against well-established (neoclassical) economic knowledge, both empirical and theoretical (e.g. Krugman; Obstfeld, 2000). The past century has seen numerous successful growth stories – Finland included – that become tributes to international trade. Promoting consumer protectionism relies on a common misconception of the preconditions for gains from trade: an economy must have an absolute advantage in the production of any internationally traded good. Furthermore, consumers paying a price premium for “the Finnishness of the good” may eventually result in overpricing Finnish products, which would hamper the international competitiveness of these goods. Even though these economic arguments could also be contested, the campaign is silent here. Since the BW campaign builds its message on one simplified economic argument, the campaign leaves itself vulnerable to economic counter-argumentation.

The BW campaign defines responsibility in consumption using economic discourses, tying it together with the responsibility towards one's own nation. The BW campaign texts are generally careful not to discredit the consumption of non-labelled objects; there are no instances where buying foreign products is portrayed as detrimental. Thus, the campaign texts draw on consumers' fondness for their own nation rather than on a sense of superiority towards foreign nations. In this sense, the discourses construct a patriotic rationale for consumption (Druckman, 1994; Balabanis et al., 2001). The silence regarding the consumption of foreign goods can be seen as congruent with the campaign's premise that consumption is a way to improve societal welfare, not abstaining from consumption. Yet it is also a central premise that products without the label and consumers who do not choose such objects fall outside the designated space for responsible action. That is, because the campaign “rules in” certain organisational actors and consumers, it also rules out those who do not participate in the practice. Thus, the argumentative interdiscourses can be seen as functioning by specifying relations between different actors and providing causal explanations between patriotism and responsibility.

While the BW campaign can be seen as constructing a patriotic rationale for responsibility, the PoF campaign has a stronger nationalistic tone. The argumentative interdiscourses of the PoF campaign construct a national obligation for consumers – one in explicit confrontation with globalisation. The campaign has its roots in the early 1990s, based on the concerns of agricultural interest groups regarding the ramifications of the potential EU membership. Although the campaign has grown in scope, the basic tenet is still the same: international trade is a threat. For example, the campaign emphasises the food security of domestic agriculture, asking: “Who would feed us in case some kind of crisis disrupts our country’s trade relations with the rest of the world?” This statement draws on a strong nationalistic ideal of a self-sustained country, contrasting with a threatening image of globalisation in both the economic and political spheres. The message is later reinforced several times by explicitly contrasting Finnish food with nondomestic food, referring to food scandals from abroad and questioning practices outside Finland:

In Finland, antibiotics are not used for growth promotion in cattle raising. The use of antibiotics for medical purposes is also on the second lowest level within the whole EU. The differences in the use of antibiotics within the EU are large, and the rest of the world is only beginning to understand the misuse of antibiotics. (2017 February, Produce of Finland press release)

The economic rationale does not appear as central to the construction of responsible consumption in the PoF campaign. Other conceptual arguments regarding social-economic-environmental sustainability are more prominent in the PoF texts. The campaign states the following:

The responsibility of producing from our own land is a well-known fact. The wellbeing of humans, animals, and nature is taken care of in domestic food production. (Produce of Finland website as of March 2017, Why Choose Finnish)

The definition of responsibility refers to the ethical aspects of food production: mainly the treatment of livestock and the social security and professional skills of employees along the supply chain. Also, the healthiness, safety and purity of Finnish food are emphasised. The excerpt above states a given responsibility is consuming “produce from our own land”. The campaign website also presents numerous research references to back up various positive attributes of Finnish produce, providing consumers with possible meanings of responsibility. However, the texts do not explicitly establish a link from these attributes to the responsibility for consumption; it is left to the consumer to construct this rationale. This ambiguity leaves the consumer with the interpretive space for determining what responsible production entails. This provides another instance of consumer agency. Here, again, the texts appeal to a rational consumer rather than to an obedient citizen. Finnishness, for example, is used to guarantee that – by consuming Finnish food – consumers eat in a safe, pure and healthy manner.

The argumentative interdiscourses manifest a variety of discourses used in constructing ethnocentric consumption tendencies. Here, the discourses harnessed to serve ethnocentric motivations represent those dimensions of responsibility that are not traditionally addressed in the literature on ethnocentric consumption. The PoF campaign uses discursive materials on sustainability. Both the environmental and socio-economic responsibility are used to construct rationales for choosing Finnish produce.

5.4 Defining objects for responsible and ethnocentric consumption

Responsible consumption would be meaningless without objects for such consumption practices. The campaigns involve and invite producers and service providers to present themselves as organizations that enable the performance of national identity and consumer responsibility through products and services. This process necessitates texts that set the criteria for producers and the objects they provide. These discursive resources can be understood as classificatory; that is, they signify a specific part of the general class of objects.

While the Finnishness of consumers is established through consumer research and traditional imagery, the Finnishness of organisations or their products is carried out by fulfilling certain production criteria; these primarily require yes/no answers regarding production conditions, the origin of used materials, service provision and so forth. These texts draw again on clearly articulated national boundaries. For example, if livestock is raised within the limits of the Finnish borders, then the meat is, by definition, Finnish. If eligible, organisations can use a particular label on their products and services for a fee. The certification label differentiates a group of objects for the enactment of ethnocentric consumption. The following excerpt, regarding the purpose of certificates from the BW campaign, illustrates the connection between consumers and producers:

The labels direct consumption choices of consumers and your clients towards responsible choices. The labels inform your clients and stakeholders of the values of your company. (2015 August, BW campaign info for firms)

The certificates provide consumers with ways to exercise their responsibility in their quotidian activities, while simultaneously adopting banal nationalism (Billig, 1995) through consumption practices. Although the use of symbols in promoting national identity is nothing new, here such symbols are applied to the context of consumption – to guide the performance of both national and responsible consumer identities. These certifications provide the final “piece of the puzzle” of translating citizenship to consumer behaviour: by tapping into nationalistic/patriotic discourses, responsible consumption becomes possible in everyday actions. In a globalised world with a great deal of discursive ambiguity, seeing such a label simplifies and condenses social reality so that responsibility and citizenship can be articulated in an effortless way.

The use of such labels points to the materiality of discourses regarding consumption practices: rather than being something detached from materiality, the discourse manifests in concrete objects – or, rather, it brings these objects into being. This is also where the practices of consumption become actionable. In this way, both nationalism (and/or patriotism) and responsibility of consumption are enabled by defining proper objects for ethnocentric consumption through certification processes. By imbuing a product with meanings associated with Finnishness, the object becomes not just a symbol of a nation but of responsibility.

As a side note, it is not just the labelled objects that are affected by the interdiscursive creation of ethnocentric consumption. The involved organisations gain nationalistic or patriotic meanings through labelling. For example, the campaign texts include “stories” of Finnish companies, historical accounts of the organisations and products. Rather than being just commercial organisations that participate in markets, they become sites of nationalistic or patriotic reproduction.

5.5 Synthesis of the analysis and discussion

The analysis illustrates how different discourses are at play in responsibilising the ethnocentric consumer. Figure 1 presents a model of the discursive infrastructure that creates the conditions of possibility for ethnocentric consumption – and, thus, the possibility for the realisation of various responsibility concerns.

The positioning, argumentative and classificatory interdiscourses are embedded in the national context, which serves as the delimiting discourse for ethnocentric consumption. The national context is not evidently or necessarily nationalistic. In essence, the campaigns establish the perimeter for consumer action, making only implicit references to other nations. The “blue-white” ideal of a self-sustained country opens a path for both the nationalistic and patriotic construction of an ethnocentric consumer. At the same time, it rules out the realisation of consumer responsibility through other than nationally tied causes. For example, social concerns for labour issues are delimited within a national context.

Furthermore, the positioning interdiscourses focus on national identity building – to reinforce the national context for consumption. In reinforcing the sense of belonging and affirmation towards Finnishness, the positioning interdiscourses are patriotic.

Argumentative interdiscourses constitute ideational relations between actors and causal relations between consumer behaviour and responsible outcomes. Here, both nationalistic and patriotic discourses are at play. The BW campaign builds on the moral obligation for one's own nation. This rationale carries a patriotic connotation. The language used is careful not to discredit the consumption of non-labelled objects. However, the PoF campaign has a stronger nationalistic tone: explicit confrontations with globalisation and foreign products are made in the texts.

Finally, the classificatory interdiscursivity can be seen to work through the relation between materiality and various responsibilising discourses. The labelled products eventually become symbols of both nation and responsibility – be it nationalistically or patriotically understood economic and social responsibility or an environmental one.

The analysis sheds new light on the concept of ethnocentric consumption. First, considering the nationalistic emphasis of ethnocentric consumption in the international marketing literature (Sumner, 2007/2007; Shimp and Sharma, 1987), the discursive responsibilising in the campaigns seems atypically patriotic: the language used in positioning the consumer within a national context does not use any superior tone towards the out-groups. The argumentative interdiscourses, in turn, do – at least in one of the campaigns. The explicit confrontation with foreignness works through discourses aiming to appeal to rationality rather than sentimentality, such as in the case of using antibiotics.

Second, the campaigns draw on more nuanced discourses of responsibility than those traditionally discussed; that is, they go beyond nationalistic and patriotic responsibilisation. The PoF campaign especially appeals to environmental responsibility and offers ethnocentric consumption as a way to act on environmental concerns. In that, the responsibility verbalised in the campaign comes to comprise economic, social and environmental dimensions, creating possibilities for sustainable ethnocentric consumption. However, the national delimitations of economic and social responsibility differentiate the concept from the traditional ways of understanding sustainable consumption. In ethnocentric consumption, economic and social responsibility always carry either nationalistic or patriotic connotations.

6. Conclusions

The present study set out to enquire about the discursive responsibilisation of an ethnocentric consumer. By examining the different texts used in two “buy domestic” campaigns, the analysis shows how different dimensions of organisational discourses (Hardy and Phillips, 2004; Caruana and Crane, 2008) are relevant to bring about the idea of responsibility in ethnocentric consumption. The organisational discourses construct consumption choices, offering the consumer the intertwined ideals of either nationalism or patriotism and responsibility.

The study makes two theoretical contributions. First, the current study has conceptualised a linking factor between macro-socio-political tendencies and individual-psychological inclinations in ethnocentric consumption. Thus, this study complements previous studies that have concentrated on individual traits (Shimp and Sharma, 1987). By drawing on a discourse analytical framework, the current study has provided a more detailed approach towards understanding how individuals engaged in consumption practices are actively constituted through corporate discourses. The positioning, argumentative and classificatory discourses that organisational actors produce to induce ethnocentric consumption can show how such consumption is propagated through markets. This is a novel approach in the international marketing literature that treats the contextual impact on ethnocentric consumption as externally given (Shankarmahesh, 2006; Steenkamp and de Jong, 2010; Strizhakova and Coulter, 2015).

The second theoretical contribution deals with the concept of ethnocentric consumption per se. The analysis suggests that ethnocentric consumption is a context-dependent phenomenon, supporting Siamagka and Balabanis' (2015) wider conceptualisation of ethnocentric consumption tendencies. However, the analysis highlights that active commercial agents have the power to use nationally appealing discourses in responsibilising the ethnocentric consumer. The current study shows how responsibility for ethnocentric consumption is not a taken-for-granted dimension. The analysed campaign texts suggest that ethnocentric consumption may draw remarkably more on patriotism than what has been previously discussed in ethnocentric consumption studies (e.g. Bizumic, 2019; Upadhyay and Singh, 2006). Moreover, the studied campaigns did not articulate nationalism on a general level but only in relation to specific aspects of production. The campaigns strive to create a particular understanding of the domestic products responsible in terms of both environmental impact and national welfare. Through such discursive processes, nationalistic symbols become heuristics for consumers to take part not just in reproducing mundane, banal nationalism, but also in responsible consumption in a wider sense.

As a managerial implication, the current study highlights how texts produced by organisations provide consumers with a variety of possibilities to understand ethnocentrism and responsibility, which may bring to the surface unintended tensions regarding consumer choices. In what sense are their products or services responsible, for example, when locality is not inherently more sustainable? How and to whom or for what is consuming particular products beneficial? Being aware of such tensions can provide marketers with a more reflexive way of producing marketing texts. At the same time, the current study highlights the responsibility of marketers over their corporate responsibility communication; this study suggests that ethnocentric promotions have the potential to affect how consumers take action on responsibility or sustainability concerns. For a consumer, this bears the risk of perceiving something that might be unsustainable as sustainable based on national origin. Thus, marketing that draws on ethnocentric discourses may have broader consequences for how consumption can (or cannot) become a means to alleviate global problems such as climate change.

In the case that “buy domestic” promotions are state led, the managerial implications pertain to public policy makers to a large extent. Drawing on various nationally appealing discourses, these promotions may actively and purposefully aim to build a local consumer culture that embraces an audience beyond those consumers who would be inclined towards ethnocentric consumption. The question finally comes down to shaping public understanding of the consequences of consumption. If ethnocentric discourses co-opt issues that are seemingly separate from those of nationalism and patriotism, the campaigns bear the risk of motivating domestic consumption at the expense of another cause, such as sustainability in its more global sense. This might expose such campaigns to counter-discourses and criticism, undermining their goals. However, further research on the nature of these potentially conflicting interests would be in order. Finally, the current study shows how marketing does not merely reflect nationalistic resurgence – it is a part of reproducing and spreading ethnocentrism through society. Thus, both policy makers and managers may reflect on how they participate in the phenomenon and on its implications for broader society.

As a limitation, although being critical in approaching the meanings of ethnocentricity and responsibility in organisational discourses, the current study did not take into consideration how consumers or other organisations can resist such discourses. For example, by producing texts that draw on other discourses, actors can subvert meanings related to ethnocentrism and responsibility in consumption. These cases can be seen, for instance, when foreign companies enter domestic markets or when activists scrutinise the responsibility claims of domestic producers. Examining such cases would improve the understanding of the dynamics of ethnocentric and responsible consumption as phenomena that are not only propagated but also actively resisted, here with implications for international marketing research.

Future critical research on responsibilisation in ethnocentric consumption is called for. First, similar studies in various national contexts would shed light on the contextual nuances of ethnocentric consumption. This would allow for the theorisation of how different cultural contexts embed various responsibility dimensions in ethnocentric consumption. Cultural context plays a role in the responsibilisation of an ethnocentric consumer. Thus, studies could combine the strong tradition of studying individual traits with ideas of national embeddedness, for example, through hierarchical linear modelling. Moreover, studies could model the link from people's wider pro-responsibility motivations towards ethnocentric consumption tendencies. Finally, the individual consumer side of the responsibilisation would be worth addressing: how “buy domestic” campaigns have shaped consumers' understandings of responsibility and how the constructed ideals are being transmitted into consumer identities and local consumer cultures.

Figures

The Discursive infrastructure creating conditions of possibilities for ethnocentric consumption

Figure 1

The Discursive infrastructure creating conditions of possibilities for ethnocentric consumption

The two analysed labelling campaigns for Finnish products and services

Association for Finnish work [Suomalaisen työn liitto]Association for Finnish food information; Finfood [Ruokatieto Yhdistys ry]
Scope and origin of labellingProducts and sevices (also design)
Key Flag label was established in the 60s by Association for Finnish Work to promote products and services of Finnish origin
Food products (packaged)
Established in 1993 to reinforce the image of Finnish food and communicate the Finnish origin of food produce to consumers
Labels (included in the campaign)Existing lables in the campaign: Key Flag, Design from Finland, Produce of Finland*
The umbrella label of the campaign: Blue-White Footprint
Produce of Finland [Hyvää Suomesta]
CampaignBlue-White Footprint (2014–2016)Produce of Finland [Hyvää Suomesta]
Main message/argumentPromotes societally conscientious consumption in terms of domestic labor
Postulates that buying Finnish products and services creates jobs in Finland, hence being sustainable in terms of the country's social and economic development
“Labeled product & conscious consumer”
Promotes Finnish food in the name of its social, economic, and environmental sustainability

Note(s): *The Association for Finnish Work runs the labels Key Flag and Design from Finland, and also owns the Blue-White Footprint campaign. Produce of Finland, though associated with the BW campaign, has its own background organization and brand, and is thus covered separately in the empirical analysis

Datatable

CDA conceptsGuiding questions for analysisForm of interdiscursivityTheoretically oriented codesData examples (produce of Finland)
Subject positionsHow are particular subjects positioned regarding ethnocentric consumption and responsibility?Positioning interdiscoursesTypical Finnish consumer
Normative conceptions of Finnish consumers
Consumers endowed with the economic resources to make a difference
[visual imagery (e.g. rye bread, winter scenery, sun rise in the forest), available at: https://www.hyvaasuomesta.fi/english]The total amount of Finnish
food exports to Russia was 430 million euros in 2013 [- -]. This is approx. 100 € per Finnish citizen. [- -] If every citizen would use that 100 euros more to Finnish produce, that would compensate for the loss from diminished exports. (11/8/2014 PoF press release)
Conceptual relationsHow is ethnocentric and responsible consumption argued for?Argumentative interdiscoursesEconomic calculations
Competitive advantages
Safety of consumption
Societal sustainability
Environmental sustainability
Confrontation with global markets
In Finland, antibiotics are not used for growth promotion in cattle raising. The use of antibiotics for medical purposes too is on the second lowest level within the whole EU. The differences in the use of antibiotics within EU are large, and the rest of the world is only beginning to understand the misuse of antibiotics. (PoF website ‘Antibiotics only when necessary')Will there be enough food in Finland, if a crisis disturbs our country's trade relations with the rest of the world? The answer is yes, as far as our food system is self-sufficient enough. Favouring Finnish food ensures the security of supply. (PoF website ‘Who will feed us’)
ObjectsHow are classes of appropriate consumption objects for ethnocentric consumption constituted?Classificatory interdiscoursesLabels as guiding consumers
Labels as distinctions
Labels as societal influence
Labels as criteria
For a consumer interested in the origin of food, package labels are the primary source of information. By using the voluntary Produce of Finland label, the producer communicates not only of the Finnish origin of their produce but also of their commitment to develop domestic food production and local welfare. (29/8/2014 PoF press release)The basic idea of the label is simple enough, and the message can be communicated with only two concepts: labelled product and conscious consumer.
(PoF website ‘Label’s history, Simple message connects’)
Data examples (The association of Finnish labour & blue-white footprint campaign)
The most important shopping places for summer consumers are marketplaces (63%), shopping markets (57%) and small shops (43%). During the summer time consumers are more spontaneous (68%). 45% of Finnish consumers make unplanned purchases. (7/2014 BW campaign news)72% of Finns think that Finnish food producers are respected too little. (3/2016 BW campaign research report)We as consumers are responsible for what happens to domestic labour. We all can affect with our actions and choices how Finnish labour is done and how services are bought. In the end this is what solves what happens to Finnish work and Finland. This belongs to all of us – a value choice. (5/2015 BW campaign blog)
Finnish food is even more significant for our customers, as the research reports of the Association of Finnish labour show. The retail sales of [a food chain] already now consists over 80% of Finnish products, so even by entering a [food chain store] the customer has made the decision to support Finnish labour. Finnishness and locality are a competitive advantage for us which we want to keep. (2/2015 BW campaign news)Finland has good workers who follow instructions, are reliable and committed. They do not need to be supervised separately. Logistics is precise and reliable. Transporting and warehousing related risks and threats are eliminated/diminished. Efficient machinery. Precise quality controls. Safe production materials. Finland is safe and politically stable country, no surprises and foreseeability is good. I did not come up with the previous arguments for domestic production. I asked some Finnish producers. They know why they are producing here. (1/2016 BW Campaign blog)Each of us can affect the preservation of workplaces through our consumption choices. 72% of Finns said in research “The Finns and labour” conducted in spring 2015 that the closer the product they are offered is the better. Local products are associated with quality, employment effect and lower carbon footprint. Nine out of ten Finns state that Finnishness has a positive affect when doing groceries. (1/2016 BW Campaign blog)
The blue-white footprint label helps customers to identify products made or designed in Finland, promoting Finnish labour (3/2014 BW campaign info)In April 2015 the key-flag label is on over 3000 products, product ranges or services. There is a variety of users with firms from all sectors. There are firms from producing industries, service firms, small, big, b-to-b-firms. (3/2015 BW campaign news)‘Choosing a key-flag labelled product or service is seen as societal influence and value choice that helps Finnish labour and wellbeing’, says the CEO of the Association of Finnish labour. (12/2015 BW campaign news)

Notes

1.

The Nationalistic Party of Finland (Perussuomalaiset) gained 39 seats in 2011 compared with five seats in the previous elections.

2.

Finland's Environmental Performance Index was the best in the world in 2016. The index measures the protection of human health and ecosystems, indicating that sustainability issues are given a high priority in Finnish society. http://epi2016.yale.edu/sites/default/files/2016EPI_Full_Report_opt.pdf

Appendix

Appendix

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Acknowledgements

We appreciate the comments by two anonymous reviewers. The first author gratefully acknowledges financial support from the ORBIT project (307480) funded by the Academy of Finland.

Corresponding author

Tiia-Lotta Pekkanen can be contacted at: tiia-lotta.pekkanen@lut.fi