I am not an expert in the area of consumer behaviour, but occasionally I stumble across a paper with currency.
A recent paper Harvard Business School addressed quite directly a question I asked back in October: how do consumers reconcile information about the likely poor working conditions under which their jeans are produced?
The paper, snappily titled “Sweatshop Labor is Wrong Unless the Jeans are Cute: Motivated Moral Disengagement“, by Neeru Paharia and Rohit Deshpandé, argues quite convincingly that consumers shift their moral compasses considerably in the face of desire.
Put simply, we are willing to shift our views on the merits (or acceptability) of sweatshops if we desire an item sufficiently. This shift may include citing economic (or other) justifications for such work.
The implications of such work vary depending on the audience I guess. Campaigners against such working conditions need to make their arguments more sticky, while marketers of such products can perhaps maintain their strategies of pretending the issues isn’t there (or even offering more justifications for such labour usage).
It ain’t pretty, but it is the real world!!