Giving the Gift of Goodness: An Exploration of Socially Responsible Gift-Giving
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Previous research demonstrates that consumers support firms’ CSR activities, and increasingly demand socially responsible products and services. However, an implicit assumption in the extant literature is that the purchaser and the consumer of the product are the same person. The current research focuses on a unique form of socially responsible consumption behavior: gift-giving. Through 30 depth consumer interviews, we develop a typology of consumers based on whether consumers integrate CSR-related information into purchases, and whether the purchases are for themselves or for others (i.e., gifts). We find that in some instances, consumers actively avoid purchasing products from socially responsible organizations and do so with the intention of managing their impressions with the gift recipient. This is counter to previous research that suggests consumers often choose to make socially responsible consumption decisions in efforts to satisfy self-presentation concerns. In addition, the decision to engage in socially responsible consumption for oneself but not for others was motivated by a variety of factors including the role of the recipient and a concern over the credibility of socially responsible gifts. Finally, some participants who do not incorporate CSR into their own personal consumption chose gifts based on a variety of CSR activities in an effort to build awareness for socially responsible organizations.
KeywordsConsumer behavior Corporate social responsibility Gift-giving Interviews Qualitative
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