Ethical Consumerism and Glass Box Branding: When Companies’ Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Abstract

Ethical consumerism has been on the rise in the last few years as consumers are focusing more and more on spending their money in a way that aligns with their values and beliefs. At the same time, technological innovation and increased connectivity through social media are helping consumers in their quest for conscious consumption choices. As a consequence, companies that once used to be black boxes are now becoming glass boxes, meaning that their internal cultures and processes become visible to consumers who are proactively choosing who to do business with. Consumers are now able to see how companies source their materials, treat their employees, and more generally, how ethically they behave within company walls and with society at large. The increased transparency companies face coupled with increasing consumers’ demands could be seen as a threat, but also as an opportunity. This case urges readers to focus on the possibilities that these trends offer to business in various industries.

This case was prepared for inclusion in Sage Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

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