Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Elena Karpova

Second Advisor

Fatma Baytar


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of: (a) social media, (b) electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM), and (c) price on attitude towards purchase and purchase intention of ethical apparel products using the theory of reasoned action (TRA) (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Additionally, the study investigated the importance of different ethical characteristics to U.S. female consumers in different generation groups. Using a 2 (media: video and blog) x 3 (eWOM: positive, neutral, and negative) x 2 (price: high and low) experimental design, information was disseminated to participants about a t-shirt with nine ethical characteristics: organic cotton, recycled polyester, reduced energy, reduced water, reduced pollution, fair trade, safe working conditions, cruelty free, and donation to charity. Participants were randomly assigned to view one of the 12 stimuli conditions, preceding a survey that measured attitude and purchase intention. Participants also rated the importance of each of the nine ethical characteristics and provided open-ended feedback about the eWOM and additional ethical apparel characteristics not included in the study.

A sample of 891 female U.S. residents between 18 and 72 years old was obtained using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Data analysis was conducted in three phases, including: (a) preliminary analysis, (b) hypotheses testing, and (c) content analysis of open-ended responses. Preliminary analysis included descriptive statistics, factor analysis, and reliability analysis. Hypotheses were tested with regression, series of one-way ANOVA, and a 4 x 9 mixed ANOVA. Open-ended feedback from participants was content analyzed.

Regression analysis confirmed a positive relationship between attitude towards purchase and purchase intention of ethical apparel. ANOVA revealed that positive eWOM resulted in higher attitude and purchase intention. Media type (video vs. blog) and price (high vs. low) did not influence attitude or purchase intention. However, participants exposed to the low-price option ($20.00) were more willing to pay the full price for the t-shirt than those exposed to the high-price option ($40.00). Participants rated safe working conditions, cruelty free, reduced pollution and fair trade as most important ethical characteristics. Recycled polyester, organic cotton, and donation to charity were the lowest rated ethical characteristics. Baby Boomers were different from Generation X and Millennials in the importance they attached to the ethical characteristics, but not Generation Z.

Open-ended feedback revealed positive eWOM that provided additional details about products was perceived as helpful. Affordable price, durability, comfort, and style were among most frequently mentioned general characteristics important to participants. Results of the study provide new knowledge about the usefulness of social media to inform consumers about ethical apparel products and the influence of positive eWOM as well as what ethical apparel characteristics are viewed as important.

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169 pages