Why consumers support local: moral foundations theory and identity perspective

Hyunjoo Im, Garim Lee, Jacqueline Parr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Consumers support local businesses as an ethical choice. However, consumer ethics researchers have not paid much attention to local consumption, limiting the understanding of why consumers believe local consumption is ethical. To address this research gap, this study aims to develop and test the theoretical model for local consumption decisions by integrating moral foundations theory and local–global identity literature. Design/methodology/approach: An online survey of US adult consumers (n = 362) was conducted to test the theoretical model. A correlational structural equation model was used to analyze the data. Findings: The results confirmed that consumers’ moral obligations to engage in local consumption are driven partially by pro-group moral foundations, and that this identity-based motivation is an intuitive predictor of local consumption behaviors. The findings of this study demonstrate that traditional ethical consumption frameworks that assume knowledge-based decision-making are not enough to explain local consumption, and provide arguments for the need to consider both moral intuitions and moral reasoning. Originality/value: This study synthesizes two isolated streams of literature and presents an integrated model to holistically explain consumer motivations for local business support. Local consumption was rarely investigated and its unique characteristics were not fully understood in the context of ethical consumption. This study specifically focuses on local consumption, advancing our knowledge of this understudied consumer behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is/was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Minnesota Agricultural Experimentation Station project [1016477].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Local consumption
  • Local support
  • Local–global identity
  • Moral foundations


Dive into the research topics of 'Why consumers support local: moral foundations theory and identity perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this