Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Impact of CSR Perception on Brand Image, Brand Attitude and Buying Willingness: A Study of a Global Café

Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Impact of CSR Perception on Brand Image, Brand Attitude and Buying Willingness: A Study of a Global Café

Article excerpt

Abstract

In recent years, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been the subject of increasing public scrutiny, and consumers have become more concerned about whether enterprises are contributing to the betterment of society. This research takes Starbucks as an example in the exploration of the impact of different generations' perceptions of CSR on future buying willingness.

The research survey collected 624 validated questionnaires. The results show that different generations have significantly different attitudes in two influential ways: (1) in the X-generation, the influence of environmental CSR on experiential brand image, and the influence of brand attitude on future buying willingness, are more significant than with the Y-generation; (2) in the Y-generation, the impact of community CSR on experiential brand image, and the impact of symbolic brand awareness on brand attitude are more significant than with the X-generation. The research found that a business undertaking a successful policy of CSR could lead consumers to purchase its products. Ultimately the business will have an opportunity to fulfill its goal of sustainability.

Keywords: corporate social responsibility, brand image, brand attitude

1. Introduction

In recent years, with industrial development and social progress, issues of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been receiving increased public attention. By way of contributing to the well-being of society, enterprises have striven to present good business images, and consumers no longer tend to seriously examine corporate feedback to society (Esrock & Leichty, 1998; Goi & Yong, 2009; Alsmadi & Alnawas, 2012).

There are two reasons why CSR is getting more attention: firstly, enterprises are getting to understand that CSR is a key to business success, and secondly, nonprofit organizations need support, and this encourages enterprises to participate (Lichtenstein, Drumwright, & Braig, 2004). Furthermore, most enterprises believe that carrying out CSR can make themselves recognizable to the public (Kotler & Lee, 2005), because undertaking social responsibilities allows a company to build good images and a good reputation (Fombrun & Shanley, 1990; Giannarakis & Theotokas, 2011). Therefore, a company carrying out its policy of social responsibility can enhance its good image and create a competitive edge (Porter & Kramer, 2006; Boonpattarakan, 2012).

On the other hand, a company can also use its distinctive brand images to promote its competitiveness; that is, endowing unique characteristics and images to its brand name and passing its message to consumers, so that their distinct feelings about the brand are positively affected. As a result, brand image management is a key point in marketing strategy. Using a crystal clear brand image for communication can drive customers to identify needed products based on the brand name (Park, Jaworski, & Maclnnis, 1986), and differentiate the branded products from those of other competitors (Reynolds & Gutman, 1984). However, CSR is a key element in the promotion of brand images (He & Li, 2011). In fact, CSR and corporate brand images are actually inextricably bound, but there are very few studies on the related topics. This is one of the motives for this research.

Fournier (1998) suggested that if the functionality provided by a brand met consumers' needs, then consumers would be psychologically linked to the brand, and irreplaceably bound with it. Brandt (1998) pointed out that an enterprise could combine its products' functional and non-functional images and features to drive the motivations of customers and brand bonding; that is, if the branded products are satisfactory, consumers will be impressed and develop positive brand attitudes toward the products, and ultimately build persistent loyalty toward the brand. Therefore, the relationship between business brand image and consumers' brand attitudes and loyalty deserves an in-depth discussion. …

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