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Most business-related studies on ethics focus on consumers in developed western economies but ignore developing economies. Therefore, to fill this void in the literature and address the concerns of prior studies, the purpose of this paper is to examine the ethical perceptions of Chinese consumers as an example of effective and efficient management of company/brand strategies in an economy experiencing rapid socioeconomic growth.Design/methodology/approachThis study examines 328 Chinese consumers’ purchase intentions based on their ethical perceptions toward Apple and P&G through mediating (i.e. consumer–corporate identification (CCI) and brand trust) and moderating (i.e. consumer gender, age, education and residence) effects. Structural equation modeling is used to analyze the constructs and overall model.FindingsThe ethical perceptions of consumers translate into purchase intentions, both at the corporate and product brand levels. Similarly, a significant direct relationship between CCI and brand trust reveals that corporate-level ethical identification is a trivial matter to customers, although these perceptions do apply to product brands under a corporate umbrella. Furthermore, to identify target groups of Chinese consumers who are receptive to ethical appeals, moderating variables were found to be useful.Originality/valueThe results confirm that the mediating role of CCI is more influential in the context of Chinese consumers’ ethical perceptions, followed by brand trust. In relation to demographics, ethical perceptions affect CCI and brand trust more positively in females and highly educated consumers in China. Similarly, the relationship between consumers’ ethical perception and their trust in brand is revealed more influential in urban residents than they do in rural. This broadens the applications and contexts of this research model. The results provide managerial guidance on enhancing potential ethical perceptions.
Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 24, 2019
Keywords: Purchase intention; Brand trust; Consumer ethical perception; Consumer–corporate identification; Moderating variable
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