Exploring ethical brand extensions and consumer buying behaviour: The RSPCA and the "Freedom Food" brand

Morven G. McEachern, Monika J.A. Schröder, Joyce Willock, Jeryl Whitelock, Roger Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This paper aims to explore ethical purchasing behaviours and attitudes, relating to the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and their brand-extension "Freedom Food". Design/methodology/approach - A mixed methodology was adopted. This involved both in-depth interviews with 30 consumers and a postal survey of 1,000 consumers. Beliefs, attitudes, normative and control issues were measured within the context of the theory of planned behaviour (TPB). Structural equation modelling was used to explore a series of dependence relationships simultaneously. Findings - Overall, consumers' moral obligations towards food-animals as well as consumer location are confirmed as influencing ethical brand choice. Both variables provide additional predictive capability improvements, raising the percentage of explained variance by 28 per cent to 80 per cent. The RSPCA's brand extension is clearly successful in terms of the positive, association value between the parent brand and the extended brand. However, market opportunities to increase market potential exist. These opportunities are discussed. Originality/value - Despite the plethora of brand extensions amongst conventional fast-moving consumer goods, the success of the brand extension concept remains unexplored amongst ethical products. Similarly, within the ethical consumption literature the majority of ethical research focuses either on environmental issues or Fair Trade purchasing behaviour, with much less attention given to societal concern for animal welfare. Additional originality is gained by exploring consumer purchase activities of "Freedom Food" branded meat by adopting the TPB as a theoretical framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-177
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Product and Brand Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


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