Consumers' evaluation of unethical marketing behaviors: The role of customer commitment [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 62 (3):237 - 252 (2005)
While there is a significant amount of research investigating managerial ethical judgments, a limited amount examines consumer judgments of unethical corporate behavior and its impact on the marketplace. This study examines how consumers’ commitment to a company impacts not only their ethical judgment of corporate behavior but also the outcomes of that judgment. The authors test hypotheses with data from 334 consumers and find that consumers’ level of commitment attenuates the level of perceived fairness. More specifically, highly committed consumers may forgive companies for behaviors when perceived harm is low, but become progressively dissatisfied as the level of perceived harm increases. Results of the study point to the importance of considering ethical behavior from a consumer perspective. If corporate actions are perceived as unethical, the company stands to lose favor with their most committed customers. Considering that more time, effort and investment is required to gain a new customer as to retain an old, this study shows that engaging in behavior perceived as unethical by consumers risks alienating the most committed customers.
Keywords marketing and consumer behavior  unethical behavior  consumer evaluations
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