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The Socially Conscious Consumer? Field Experimental Tests of Consumer Support for Fair Labor Standards

25 Pages Posted: 18 May 2012 Last revised: 6 Dec 2015

Jens Hainmueller

Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Stanford Graduate School of Business; Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Michael J. Hiscox

Harvard University

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

In surveys consumers say that they care deeply about whether the products they buy are made in workplaces with fair labor standards rather than in sweatshops. But the existing market for such ethically differentiated goods is small and there is no clear evidence that consumers would actually choose ethically labeled products over counterparts if given the choice. We provide new evidence on consumer behavior from a large-scale field experiment conducted with Gap Inc. in 111 Banana Republic factory stores. We find that labels with information about fair labor standards had a substantial positive effect on sales among a segment of shoppers even in outlet stores where customers are predominantly concerned with prices. The labels increased sales of a more expensive women's item by 14%. The labels had no discernable impact on sales of lower-priced items.

Keywords: labour standarts, consumer behavior, field experiments

Suggested Citation

Hainmueller, Jens and Hiscox, Michael J., The Socially Conscious Consumer? Field Experimental Tests of Consumer Support for Fair Labor Standards (2015). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2062435 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2062435

Jens Hainmueller (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~jhain/

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Michael J. Hiscox

Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~hiscox/

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