Consumer Responses to the Food Industry’s Proactive and Passive Environmental CSR, Factoring in Price as CSR Tradeoff

Abstract

This study examines consumer reactions to the food industry’s environmental corporate social responsibility (CSR) by varying levels of CSR and price as CSR tradeoffs. Findings reveal that proactive CSR programs generate more favorable attitudes toward and stronger intent to purchase from the company compared to passive CSR programs. Supportive communication intention also increases with CSR level in the low price condition. Regarding the impact of price, respondents showed more positive attitudes toward a company that charges cheaper prices in general. However, when a company demonstrates proactive initiatives, respondents did not distinguish between prices and showed generally positive intent to support and intent to purchase from the company. When a company practices passive CSR and offers cheaper products, respondents showed the weakest supportive and purchase intentions.

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Correspondence to Yeonsoo Kim.

Appendix: Sample Stimuli

Appendix: Sample Stimuli

News Article

The Orlando City Council announced newly enacted legislation that will become effective on February 1. The legislation limits the use of disposable products and encourages using recyclables. Under this law, at least eighty percent of the disposables used by businesses must be recyclable and set aside for recycling. Local businesses that fail to meet this requirement are subject to fines of up to thirty thousand dollars.

The decision corresponds with the Environmental Protection Agency’s nationwide effort to reduce the amount of waste from certain industries such as food, clothing, and paper manufacturers and suppliers. “Many companies use disposable products for their convenience and for economic efficiency. But the toll on the environment has begun to outweigh the convenience”, said city councilman Kerri Anderson.

Anderson explained that because of the legislation, plastic ware usage among fast-food chains will be greatly affected. Beginning in February, customers who do not want to consume disposable plastic ware will have the option of using durable plastic cups and porcelain plates in Orlando restaurants.

Scenario

Imagine that you are at the food court to eat lunch. There are several fast-food chains that you can select from. You want to eat a hamburger and a chicken salad. You find a hamburger franchise called “A.A.”, which is a fast-food chain that has a reputation for making good-quality burgers and great salads. The food price at A.A. is relatively higher compared to similar restaurants in the area.

You recently heard that the fast-food chain A.A. plans to offer durable tableware in place of disposable plastic service ware and accordingly, plans to hire additional employees for dishwashing and table service. A.A. has also announced that they will expand their environmental sustainability budget by 5 % the following year. The sustainability budget is meant to address eco-friendly environmental goals of improving waste management practices and reducing the impact of non-biodegradable materials.

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Kim, Y. Consumer Responses to the Food Industry’s Proactive and Passive Environmental CSR, Factoring in Price as CSR Tradeoff. J Bus Ethics 140, 307–321 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2671-8

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Keywords

  • Food industry
  • Environmental CSR
  • CSR level
  • Product prices
  • CSR outcomes