Advertisers of sustainable, ecologically friendly and ethical products or

Advertisers of sustainable, ecologically friendly and
ethical products or advertisers of non-profit organizations fall into the
dilemma of which benefit appeal they must focus on to motivate consumers to
proceed to purchases or donations. The emphasis is given either on benefits to
the environment or the society, or on personal benefits or benefits to the self
(Brunel & Nelson, 2000; Nelson, Brunel, Supphellen
& Manchanda,2006). The former benefits are referred in the literature as
“self-benefit” appeals and the latter as “other-benefit” appeals. These two
appeals are formed based on the determination of the fundamental cause behind
the incentive of a person who is thinking of donating or purchasing an eco-friendly
and sustainable product and are important to be investigated by marketers for
persuasion reasons (Bendapudi, Singh & Bendapudi, 1996; Krebs &
Miller,1985). In the literature, the self-benefit appeal is expressed as the
appeal that emphasizes the advantages a donor gains from a donation, while on
the contrary, the other-benefit appeal is expressed as the appeal that focuses
on the advantages another individual or organization gains from a donation
(Fisher, Vandenbosch & Antia, 2008). Furthermore, the terms “egoistic” and
“altruistic” appeals have appeared in previous studies representing the donor’s
motive or “self-oriented value” to gain rewards or avoid punishment (Cialdini, Schaller,
Houlihan, Arps, Fultz & Beaman, 1987). and the “value-expressive claims for
helping others”, even when sacrificing the donor’s profit (Martin, 1994).

            Many
researchers have tried to determine which of the above appeals are more
effective, especially for donations to organizations or individuals. The other-benefit
appeal seems to be more dominant in charity donations compared to the
self-benefit appeal and provokes donation behaviors (Fisher, Vandenbosch &
Antia, 2008) because of the empathy-helping hypothesis (Batson, 1990). People
tend to offer their help when they feel empathy for those in need, or to put
differently, when they experience the feelings of those who ask for their help.
Although social psychology and classical economics support that people act
selfishly even when they offer their assistance (Miller & Ratner, 1998), it
is the social desirability of helping that prevail, which provides
self-benefits by helping others and leads to higher social acceptance and
self-esteem (Fisher, Vandenbosch & Antia, 2008). A study about organ
donation discovered that the addition of self-benefit appeals to other-benefit
appeals have a notably negative impact on the intention of people to donate
their organs (Pessemier, Bemmaor & Hanssens, 1977). In support of the
other-benefit appeals, Webb, Mohr, and Harris (2008) claim that “socially
responsible consumption is socially oriented, not self-centered”, Griskevicius,
Van den Bergh, and Tybur (2010) state that consumers sacrifice their own
benefits when selecting to buy eco-friendly and sustainable products, and Peattie
and Crane (2005) depicts a shift of marketing strategies from presenting the
direct personal benefits of consumption of environmentally friendly products to
presenting the forthcoming benefits of this consumption for the next
generations of prospective consumers.

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            On
the contrary, the social exchange theory proposes that self-benefit appeals are
more effective due to the fact that consumers make purchase decisions based on
the comparable degree of cost and reward (Blau, 1964). Rothschild (1979)
supports this model, even though he notes that it is not so applicable for
motivating donation behaviors and, generally, for non-monetary transactions. Saving
money is a particularly important parameter that consumers take into account
when they proceed to a purchase, as was established in the studies of Peattie
(2001), who contends that eco-friendly products are very successful when they
save consumers money, even if they minimal environmental benefits, and of Allen
(1982), who indicates that “saving money represents a strong alternative motive
for efficient consumption that has nothing to do with social conscience”.

            Other
studies examine the effectiveness of these benefit appeals by using more
variables that moderate or mediate the final outcomes. For instance, White and
Peloza (2009) investigated the donation intentions of consumers in private and
public settings. It was supported that when consumers were asked in private
setting to express their donation intentions, they were influenced more positively
by self-benefit appeals, rather than other-benefit appeals. On the other hand,
in public settings, the results were reversed. One research study observes the attitude
towards a brand of organic food and the purchase intention for this product
when consumers are exposed to egoistic-focused (i.e. self-benefit) ad appeal,
altruistic-focused (i.e. other-benefit) ad appeal, the combination of the two
ad appeals and a control ad (Kareklas, Carlson & Muehling, 2006). It proves
that the combined ad appeal generates more positive attitude towards the brand
and purchase intention from the egoistic-focused ad and the control ad, whereas
the outcomes from the comparison between the altruistic-focused ad and the
combined ad are not significantly different. Finally, Brunel and Nelson (2000)
found that women express more favorable attitudes towards a charitable ad which
features other-benefit appeal stimuli and men to help-self (i.e. self-benefit)
appeal stimuli. Moral world-views is used as the mediator of these effects.

            The
two benefit appeals, other-benefit and self-benefit appeals will be applied to
the conceptual model of this study in order to demonstrate which one of the two
affects the purchase intention of the consumers for a sustainable apparel
product the most. The will be used as stimuli to different advertisements,
which will promote the same apparel, but with different message appeals. 

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