Corporate social responsibility

Topics: Corporate social responsibility, Business ethics, Social responsibility Pages: 12 (7157 words) Published: October 29, 2014
Journal of Business & Economics Research – June 2012

Volume 10, Number 6

Brand-Consumer Relationship
And Corporate Social Responsibility:
Myth Or Reality & Do Consumers
Really Care?
Elias G. Rizkallah, Ph.D., La Sierra University, USA

ABSTRACT
Companies are claiming that they are being challenged to maintain profitability and behave in socially responsible ways. The question is how much “the social responsibility” is a real pressure. Do consumers really know what the companies, producing their favorite brands, are doing? Do consumers really care? How much of an effect do the company practices have on the consumer’s response to a brand? Or does the consumer-brand relationship have nothing to do with the company’s practices? Does the customer’s response change with the type of company practices (e.g. environmentally friendly or not, treats well or mistreats employees, relationship with suppliers, supports or doesn’t support social causes, etc.)? Does such response depend on who the customer is (e.g. different demographics, loyalty to a brand, or level of awareness of societal issues, etc.)? The study attempts to answer these questions and more. The survey included a random sample of 317 adult individual consumers in the Southern California region. Results of the survey are presented within a conceptual framework hypothesizing that the relationship between the consumer and the brand can be affected differently by the company’s different practices in regard to social responsibility; and by the consumer’s characteristics. The paper concludes with some recommendations that may benefit interested companies, social-action groups, and policymakers.

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); Consumer-Brand Relationship; Brand Loyalty; Consumer Behavior

INTRODUCTION

I

n today’s complex world global competition is soaring; consumers are more aware, connected, and empowered by the information revolution through the Internet; economic stability is questionable; and pressing environmental and societal issues – including all types of pollution, depletion of natural resources and endangered sustainability, man-made diseases, and global poverty – are the dominant conversations. In this setting, companies are looking in every corner for a competitive advantage, and trying to balance their core mission to increase shareholders’ wealth with their concern about being responsible corporate citizens – especially when the consumer, the blood line of the organization, is witnessing this and being touched by it every day. Therefore, corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the last two decades has enjoyed the lion’s share of corporate executive concerns and engagement, and gained a heightened interest on the part of academic researchers to understand (a) what corporate social responsibility means, (b) what the different models are, (c) what its impact is on the performance and growth of the organization, (d) if it is or should be embedded in the core of the organization’s mission, and (e) what its direct and indirect effects are on consumer attitudes and behaviors. Kolter (2011), in his article “Reinventing Marketing to Manage the Environmental Imperative,” concluded that, “increasing numbers of people will prefer to buy from companies that care. Companies will need to add an environmental dimension to their profile. They do not want to appear indifferent to larger economic, social, and © 2012 The Clute Institute http://www.cluteinstitute.com/

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Journal of Business & Economics Research – June 2012

Volume 10, Number 6

political concerns. Word of mouth is becoming a growing force in shaping consumer decisions. Consumers can be emailing, blogging, and tweeting to their friends and acquaintances good things or bad things about a company. Companies are increasingly swimming in a highly transparent fishbowl.” The purpose of this paper is to learn more about corporate social responsibility, to identify different...

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