Ethics and social responsibility in Australian grocery shopping

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Authors: Williams, J., Memery, J., Megicks, P. and Morrison, M.

Journal: International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management

Volume: 38

Issue: 4

Pages: 297-316

ISSN: 0959-0552

DOI: 10.1108/09590551011032108

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify, and explore the importance of, ethical and socially responsible (ESR) factors in Australian consumers' choices of grocery products and stores. Design/methodology/approach: Following an earlier study in the UK, an initial qualitative investigation, then a survey of grocery shoppers in New South Wales, was conducted. Factor analysis explored the structure of the choice factors for grocery products and stores in "main" and "top-up" shopping situations. Finally, four multiple regression equations measured the effects of these factors. Findings: This paper finds that, when "top-up" shopping, ESR consumers are less discriminating than when "main" shopping. The provision of ethically farmed produce has most influence on store choice when "main" shopping, while retailers' fair trading and environmentally responsible policies have the greatest influence when "topping-up". The ethical provenance of goods is the most important factor in product choice. Research limitations/implications: The constructs developed need to be validated internationally. Practical implications: The two large Australian retail grocers may benefit by developing roles as "choice editors" on behalf of their ESR customers; whilst smaller retailers may gain advantage by concentrating on community-based, environmentally friendly and fair trading policies. Manufacturers of grocery products may benefit by emphasizing their products' ESR provenance and their organisations' ethical policies. Originality/value: This is the first study of its kind in Australia. It contributes to the development of an internationally relevant set of ESR shopping choice factors. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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