Consumers’ Perceptions of Retail Business Ethics and Loyalty to the Retailer: The Moderating Role of Social Discount Practices

Abstract

This research investigates the influence that consumers’ perceptions of retail business ethics have on their responses (trust and loyalty) when retailers either create social discount spaces (integrated or collaborative) or do not. Using scenarios to imply these social practices and structural equation modeling to test the hypotheses among a sample of 689 respondents, the authors find that consumers’ perceptions of retail business ethics have positive effects on consumer loyalty, both directly and through consumer trust, as well as positive, strong influences on the retailer’s corporate social responsibility and corporate reputation. Furthermore, consumers’ perceptions of retail business ethics exert a stronger effect on consumer trust in integrated social discount spaces, though social discount practices do not affect the link between such perceptions and loyalty. Compared with when the retailer does not offer discount space, collaborative and integrated social discount spaces have weaker effects on trust and loyalty to the retailer. These findings have several notable theoretical and practical implications

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This French firm was accused of labeling horse meat as beef in 2012–2013. An investigation implicated the wholesaler Spanghero in the scandal, which affected supermarkets throughout Europe and increased French consumers’ demand for products with greater traceability (e.g., organic, locally sourced).

  2. 2.

    A parametric bootstrapping method can be performed with the online tool provided by Preacher and Selig (http://www.quantpsy.org/medmc/medmc.htm).

  3. 3.

    We took several steps to test for moderation effects: (1) estimated the model in each group using bootstrapping; (2) assessed model fit in each group; (3) ran a t test in the structural paths based on the sample sizes, path loadings, and standard errors; and (4) inspected the significance of the difference for each structural link..

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Correspondence to Mbaye Fall Diallo.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Scenarios Created to Assess the Effect of Discount Practices

A control group and two social discount space conditions were available. For each condition, participants imagined that they were considering the social discount space offered by the grocer where they shopped most often.

Scenario 1: Integrated social discount space

Imagine the following situation: You are doing your shopping in retailer X, and you discover a new type of discount space dedicated to selling specific grocery products at very low prices, allowing the poor and low-income consumers to have access to consumer products.

Scenario 2: Collaborative social discount space

Imagine the following situation: You are doing your shopping in retailer X, and you discover a new type of discount space selling specific grocery products at very low prices, operated in collaboration with a local charity association, to help poor and low-income consumers.

Notes: “Retailer X” refers to the main retail chain where the respondents shopped most often.

Appendix 2

See Table 4.

Table 4 Measurement items and variable sources

Appendix 3

See Table 5.

Table 5 Means, correlation matrix, and discriminant validity assessment

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Diallo, M.F., Lambey-Checchin, C. Consumers’ Perceptions of Retail Business Ethics and Loyalty to the Retailer: The Moderating Role of Social Discount Practices. J Bus Ethics 141, 435–449 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2663-8

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Keywords

  • Retailing
  • Ethical perceptions
  • Reputation
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Social discount