Selfless First Movers and Self-Interested Followers: Order of Entry Signals Purity of Motive in Pursuit of the Greater Good

Ike Silver*, Brooke A. Kelly, Deborah A. Small

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

When do brands get credit for contributing to the greater good? Prior research has shown that consumers reward brands for prosocial initiatives (e.g., corporate philanthropy, social responsibility, cause marketing) in line with the perceived purity of their motives. We report four experiments demonstrating that consumers interpret the order in which brands launch prosocial initiatives as a signal of their underlying motivations for doing good. Whereas prosocial first movers appear to care genuinely about the causes they support, prosocial followers (i.e., those that imitate the prosocial actions of other brands) typically seem to have more selfish intentions, even if their initiatives have an equal or greater social impact. This discrepancy in perceived motives, in turn, serves as an additional source of first mover preference, above and beyond previously studied first mover effects and unique to greater good marketing contexts. It also leads consumers to reward followers for launching more original prosocial initiatives, even if these seem less impactful for society. These findings bridge literatures on prosocial behavior and entry order, and they offer practical insight for brands looking to combine profits and purpose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-517
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Corporate social responsibility
  • First mover advantage
  • Motive inference
  • Pioneering
  • Plagiarism
  • Prosocial behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Selfless First Movers and Self-Interested Followers: Order of Entry Signals Purity of Motive in Pursuit of the Greater Good'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this