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The impact of ethical concerns on family consumer decision-making

Carey, Lindsey and Shaw, Deidre and Shiu, Edward (2008) The impact of ethical concerns on family consumer decision-making. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 32 (5). pp. 553-560. ISSN 1470-6423

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Abstract

Ethical consumerism and family consumer decision-making, including the influence of children in this area, are spheres of consumer behaviour in which a substantial amount of academic research has already been undertaken. However, the crossover of these two areas is as yet under-researched, as well as the level of pester power parents are subjected to from children aged 3 and under. This paper uses qualitative methods to investigate the issues surrounding the ethical consumer decision-making process with families who have children aged 3 years old or under. This research found that the motivation to pursue an ethical lifestyle varied across the sample, but the emergence of an 'inheritance factor', where parents are awakened to ethical issues because of the birth of their child, was prominent. Other issues that transpired from this research include the prominence of ethical trade-offs in consumer decision-making, ethical choices as normalizing behaviour and finally the presence of pester power in the ethical context. Ethical consumerism strongly emerged as an integral part of the parent's identity construction, especially for the mothers as they struggled to adapt to their new roles. Further research delving into the role ethical choices have on identity construction and the parental response to pester power would be a valuable addition to the overall context of this research.