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Edited by Victoria Wells and Gordon Foxall
Chapter 7: Researching the Unselfish Consumer
Ken Peattie 7.1 INTRODUCTION: REAL WORLD CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR The marketing of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has been notable for the growing attention paid to consumption behaviours and practices that are, to some extent, motivated by social, ethical and environmental concerns. Consumers increasingly express an interest in socio-environmental issues, and an expectation that trusted brands and companies should respond to them. Policy makers have sought to harness growing consumer interest to promote market-based solutions to difficult socio-environmental challenges, in preference to employing the less popular policy levers of taxation and regulation (Hobson, 2004). Marketers have perceived opportunities to generate differentiation and competitive advantage by demonstrating the ethical credentials of their products and companies. No less a figure in the marketing and strategy academy than Michael Porter argued that proactive and innovative environmental strategies were likely to be beneficial to companies through reduced costs and increased opportunities, partly because customers would respond positively (Porter and van der Linde, 1995). More broadly, in recent years, the social, ethical and environmental dimensions of consumer behaviour have become an increasing focus of research activity amongst marketing scholars and market research practitioners (Harrison et al., 2005). A wide range of studies have sought to understand what type of consumers respond to which socio-environmental issues, and to explore the nature of that response in terms of its extent, motivations, consistency and predictability. The difficulty in researching this agenda for the marketing academy, and consumer behaviourists in particular, is that it exists beyond their normal...
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