“They Did Not Walk the Green Talk!:” How Information Specificity Influences Consumer Evaluations of Disconfirmed Environmental Claims

Journal of Business Ethics 163 (1):107-123 (2020)
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Abstract

While environmental claims are increasingly used by companies to appeal consumers, they also attract greater scrutiny from independent parties interested in consumer protection. Consumers are now able to compare corporate environmental claims against external, often disconfirming, information to form their brand attitudes and purchase intentions. What remains unclear is how the level of information specificity of both the environmental claims and external disconfirming information interact to influence consumer reactions. Two experiments address this gap in the CSR communication literature. When specific claims are countered by specific external information, consumers report more negative brand attitudes and lower purchase intentions. The effect is serially mediated by skepticism toward the claims and lack of corporate credibility. We conclude by discussing strategies that firms can utilize to avoid information dilution and ensure that external disconfirming information percolates to consumers as specific.

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