Unpacking the ethical product

Journal of Business Ethics 30 (4):361 - 373 (2001)
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Abstract

Acknowledging the increasing attention in the literature devoted to the incorporation of ethical considerations into consumers' purchase decisions, this paper explores the notion of an ethical product. It is argued that ethical issues have long been involved in consumers' product evaluations, but that there has been little academic investigation of ethics in terms of product concepts and theories. Ethics are thus examined in the context of the augmented product concept, and two dimensions of ethical augmentation are identified: direction and content. These dimensions are set out and discussed at some length, and then they are used to construct an ethical product matrix. It is shown how this could be used to provide structure and coherence to examinations of the perceived ethics of any given product offering. The implications of the analysis offered in the paper are discussed, and a number of limitations of the ethical product notion are identified. Finally some conclusions and directions for future research are suggested.

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