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How Ethical Claims Boost Sales in Surprising Ways

Unpacking the Power of Ethical Claims in Product Marketing


You’ve probably found yourself standing in a store aisle, staring at two similar products, pondering whether to go for the one that says “organic” or “fair trade.” You’re not alone—ethical claims on products are a hot topic right now, and guess what? They can actually sway your buying decision. If you’ve ever wondered how and why this happens, you’re in for a treat today!

More than Just Words?

So, we’ve all seen the labels, right? “Organic ingredients,” “Not tested on animals,” “Phosphate-free”—these aren’t just buzzwords anymore. A study from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business found that ethical claims on products actually make us more inclined to buy them. But hold on; there’s a catch: it matters how these claims are presented and what type of product they’re slapped on. Intrigued?

Match the Message with the Product

Imagine you’re shopping for cough syrup. You see one that boasts it’s “Made with Organic Ingredients.” Feels like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it? This is what the experts call a utilitarian claim. The study found that these ethical claims work best with utilitarian products—items that are practically useful in our daily lives, like food, medicine, or household goods.

But what if you see a high school ring branded as “fair trade”? That’s a symbolic claim. The ring itself symbolizes an achievement or a sense of belonging. The study revealed that symbolic claims work best with symbolic products—items that we use to express our identity or indicate that we’re part of a specific community.

So, next time you’re confused between two similar items, check the ethical claim and see if it matches the product’s primary benefit. That’s your cue!

The Magic of Touch

Now, let’s add another layer to this: the sense of touch. The study showed that ethical claims have a more significant impact when we have physical contact with the product. Imagine holding an organic cotton t-shirt; suddenly, it feels like you’re not just buying a piece of cloth but something that aligns with your ethical views. Why is this the case?

Well, according to Onur Bodur, the marketing professor behind the study, it’s all about what’s known as the “positive contagion effect.” When you touch something, you subconsciously feel that its ethical goodness is transferred to you. Whether it’s eating organic food or wearing sustainable clothes, the physical contact amplifies the product’s perceived benefits. Mind-blowing, right?

Practical Tips for Marketers and Consumers Alike

So, if you’re in the business of selling products, listen up! If you want to see a boost in your sales, consider the amount of physical contact a consumer will have with your product. If it’s something that they’ll touch, like food or clothing, ethical claims can go a long way.

And if you’re on the consumer end, use this information to make more informed choices. Are you truly getting what you’re paying for, or is it just a marketing gimmick? The power is in your hands, quite literally.

Navigating the Ethical Landscape

It’s important to remember that not all ethical claims are created equal. Some brands use these claims as mere marketing tactics, while others genuinely adhere to ethical practices. The key takeaway? Be discerning, do your homework, and align your purchases with your values.

So, the next time you find yourself grappling with indecision in a store aisle, remember: ethical claims have more impact than you might think, especially when touch is involved. You’re not just spending money; you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. Isn’t that a compelling reason to choose wisely?

Thanks for sticking with me through this enlightening journey. I hope you walk away with a better understanding of how the world of ethical marketing affects us all. Happy shopping, and may your choices be ever ethical and tactilely satisfying!

Written by
Madelyn Barrett

Madelyn Barrett is an accomplished reporter with a focus on entrepreneurship, startups, and business innovation. With more than a decade in the industry, Madelyn's writing has illuminated the path for many aspiring business owners. Her unique perspective stems from her experience as a former startup founder and her academic background in Business Administration. Currently residing in New York City, Madelyn remains immersed in the pulse of the business world, dedicated to bringing our readers the most relevant and impactful startup news.

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