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Giving the Gift of Goodness: An Exploration of Socially Responsible Gift-Giving

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Todd Green.

Appendix

Appendix

Interview Guide

  • What values do you look for when making a purchase decision?

  • Thinking of a recent purchase (over $100), what attributes of the product do you think made the biggest impact on your purchase decision?

  • Do you consider CSR attributes when making purchases?

  • Name a few organizations that you think are socially responsible.

    • What does the organization do that makes them appear to be socially responsible?

  • How important is it for you to purchase goods and services from organizations that are socially responsible?

  • Are you influenced by friends and family in terms of purchasing goods from socially responsible organizations?

  • Do you influence family and friends in terms of referring them to organizations who are socially responsible?

  • Are you willing to pay a premium price for goods and services provided by socially responsible organizations?

  • Can you think of ways that CSR can add value for consumers?

  • Do you make different decisions when you are purchasing goods for yourself versus other people?

  • Specifically, do you tend to purchase goods from socially responsible organizations for yourself or for others?

  • Can you provide an example of a purchase for someone else from a socially responsible organization?

  • What factors did you consider when making the purchase for someone else?

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Green, T., Tinson, J. & Peloza, J. Giving the Gift of Goodness: An Exploration of Socially Responsible Gift-Giving. J Bus Ethics 134, 29–44 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-014-2076-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-014-2076-0

Keywords

  • Consumer behavior
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Gift-giving
  • Interviews
  • Qualitative