People seek altruism in their shopping

Nov. 10, 2011 at 1:06 AM
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PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- With the U.S. economy faltering, some may be surprised altruism will play a big factor in holiday shopping, a U.S. sociologist says.

Sociologist Keith Brown of Saint Joseph's University said the holidays bring many motivations to buy, buy, buy -- but beyond the sale prices and must-have items is something greater for consumers to consider.

"The current recession coincided with an 'ethical turn' in the markets," Brown said in a statement.

"Consumers want to be viewed as socially conscious. Objects that clearly signify that a person has donated to charity help mark the consumer as altruistic."

More and more products are being sold that donate a portion of their proceeds to a charitable or ethical cause, Brown said.

"An increasing number of consumers from all socioeconomic segments are looking to pay it forward, but especially those who have been only minimally impacted by the recession," Brown said. "They're looking for 'Made in America,' 'Fair Trade,' or 'Eco-friendly.' They want to add a socially responsible dimension to their gift-giving. Many consumers sincerely want to make a difference in the world through shopping. Consumers like to give gifts that have a story about where the product came from, who made it and how the producer benefited by selling the object."

Conversely, Brown said that the recipients often feel good, too.

"It's a double gift," he said.

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