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06-01-2020 | Original Paper | Issue 1/2021

Journal of Business Ethics 1/2021

Doing Good While Behaving Badly: Checkout Charity Process Mechanisms

Journal:
Journal of Business Ethics > Issue 1/2021
Authors:
Michael Giebelhausen, Benjamin Lawrence, HaeEun Helen Chun
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Abstract

Companies are increasingly using cause-related marketing campaigns to engage consumers during the purchase process and highlight their own corporate social responsibility initiatives. One growing trend among retailers is the use of charity campaigns, where cashiers or technologies solicit consumers to donate money at checkout. Though these checkout charity campaigns are ubiquitous, little is known about their impact on consumers or the psychological processes involved. This paper addresses this gap by examining the process by which checkout charity appeals may license consumers to engage in “guilty pleasures” counter to injunctive norms. In a series of four studies, we affirm this hypothesis, presenting a novel methodological approach for providing evidence of a credits-based process. This method utilizes a Johnson-Neyman procedure to demonstrate how a charitable donation creates a “warm-glow” feeling that subsequent counter-injunctive consumption erodes. In other words, we directly observe individuals “cashing in” credits to pay for bad behavior. We discuss the ethical implications of such campaigns in light of the subsequent behavior they may license.

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