The demand for products linked to public goods: Evidence from an online field experiment
We conduct a field experiment at a nonprofit organization's online store to study how demand changes when consumers' purchases can generate revenue for a charitable cause. When purchases can trigger a small donation by an outside anonymous group, consumers respond strongly and apparently without regard for the specific conditions that trigger the donation. Consumers respond similarly when the outside donation requires a personal donation which consumers generally decline. When the outside donations are relatively large, however, consumers appear to pay close attention to the trigger conditions, and increase their purchases only where needed to generate the outside donation. Overall, increasing the salience of financial incentives weakens consumers' positive responses to the outside group's donation pledges. We also present evidence that the donation pledges have positive long-term effects on demand and may reduce price sensitivity.
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