Do stereotypes drive consumer purchases from for-profit or nonprofit organizations?

Feb 17, 2010

Consumers perceive non-profit organizations as being "warm," but not particularly competent, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Across three experiments, we found that consumers hold stereotypes, or shorthand, blanket impressions about non-profit and for-profit organizations and that these stereotypes predict crucial marketplace behaviors, such as the likelihood of visiting of a website and willingness to buy a product from the organization," write authors Jennifer Aaker (Stanford University), Kathleen D. Vohs (University of Minnesota), and Cassie Mogilner (University of Pennsylvania).

The authors found that people generally view for-profit companies are being competent, but also as being devoid of warmth, which does not lead people to admire them.

In contrast, they found that consumers perceive non-profits as being warmer than for-profits, but they also believe they are less competent than for-profits. Therefore, if consumer stereotypes are not interrupted, people are more likely to buy products from for-profits than non-profits.

Non-profits can boost by understanding and using tools that most effectively convey competence, the authors write. For example, non-profits can utilize sub-branding, endorsements, and sponsored events to avoid the general that they are in some way incompetent.

"Our results demonstrate a major difference from findings regarding the warmth and competence perceptions of people," the authors write. "It is well-established that perceptions of people are better predicted by perceptions of warmth than by perceptions of competence. However, in our studies of firms, perceived competence predicted global endpoints (such as willingness to buy) better than perceived warmth. In this regard, our work represents an intriguing departure from work on perceptions of humans."

Explore further: Sleep study raises hope for clinical treatment of racism, sexism and other biases

More information: Journal of Consumer Research: August 2010. A preprint of this article can be found at journals.uchicago.edu/jcr

Related Stories

More than meets the tongue

Feb 12, 2007

Does orange juice taste sweeter if it's a brighter orange? A new study in the March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that the color of a drink can influence how we think it tastes. In fact, the researchers found ...

Recommended for you

Why do people waste so much time at work?

29 minutes ago

Based on research undertaken at Cass Business School, City University London, Professor Fleming explores how the act of working is no longer about survival and self-preservation, but has now morphed into ...

Researchers provide evolutionary explanation of crime

1 hour ago

In their new book, "Evolutionary criminology: Towards a comprehensive explanation of crime," Dr Russil Durrant from the Institute of Criminology and Professor Tony Ward from the School of Psychology employ ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.