Consumers’ And Professionals’ Responses To Situations Raising Ethical Questions
In this study we have attempted, in collaboration with an agrifood company, to compare and contrast the responses of consumers and professionals to the same set of situations raising ethical questions, in order to highlight the differences and the similarities of viewpoint between these two groups of stakeholders. In order to do this, we constructed multi-stakeholder scenarios comprising a description of the situation and the various possible approaches to managing the situation. We constructed two scenarios, dealing with the origin of the gelatin used in the company’s products and the company’s product information on livestock feed (GMO).
This allowed us to: – study the extent of the professionals’ ethical perceptions and the possible compromises between ethical values and business interests in the decision-making process. – compare and contrast the ethical perceptions of consumers and professionals.
In the first part we discuss the exploratory phase which enabled us to construct the scenarios. In the second part we compare the ethical value of the decisions suggested for each scenario according to consumers and professionals and the probability of adopting the various decisions according to professionals. The third part compares consumers’ and professionals’ responses on the matching of each decision to consumer expectations and on the decision which would appear to them to be ideal.
If there is a convergence between consumers and professionals in relation to the ethical classification of the various decisions, we can note, however, that consumers’ expectations with regard to ethics are little understood by professionals.
This study leads to a better understanding of the significance of considerations of an ethical nature in consumer perceptions and allows them to be compared and contrasted with the ethical judgments of professionals. It gives professionals a better insight into consumer expectations on sensitive issues and highlights certain differences between consumer expectations and managers’ suggestions.
Keywords: Food, ethics, consumer expectations, GMO.