Advertisement

Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 60–70 | Cite as

Does CSR Matter? A longitudinal analysis of product reviews for CSR-associated brands

  • Becky R. FordEmail author
  • Cynthia Stohl
Original Article
  • 33 Downloads

Abstract

The business case for CSR argues that it is most profitable when it distinguishes the company from its competitors. However, empirical evidence of the positive relationship between CSR and consumer behavior is mixed. Taking a longitudinal approach, this study examines the degree to which CSR is associated with the online assessments of products from two companies within the same sector: TOMS, an ‘intrinsic CSR’ shoe company where CSR efforts permeate its business model, and BOBS, a line of shoes from Skechers, and an ‘extrinsic CSR’ company where CSR efforts are not embedded within its overall business operations. A content analysis of over 3000 Amazon reviews for BOBS and TOMS shoes shows that over time, reviewers become less focused on CSR corporate identity and more concerned with the tangible features of the product. The implications of the findings for the connection between CSR and consumer buying behaviors are discussed.

Keywords

Corporate social responsibility Corporate identity Consumer identity Product reviews Amazon 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank their team of research assistant coders, who tirelessly coded over 3000 Amazon reviews. Thanks to Alexis Marino, Katie Koeper, Lauren Antone, and Taryn Martin.

References

  1. Balmer, J.M., and S.A. Greyser. 2002. Managing multiple identities of the corporation. California Management Review 44 (3): 72–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnett, M.L. 2007. Stakeholder influence capacity and the variability of financial returns to corporate social responsibility. Academy of Management Review 32 (3): 794–816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bartlett, J.L., and B. Devin. 2011. Management, communication, and corporate social responsibility. In The handbook of communication and corporate social responsibility, ed. Ø. Ihlen, J.L. Bartlett, and S. May, 47–66. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Binkley, C. (2010). Charity gives shoe brand extra shine. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304252704575155903198032336. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  5. Bhattacharya, C.B., and S. Sen. 2003. Consumer-company identification: A framework for understanding consumers’ relationships with companies. Journal of Marketing 67 (2): 76–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blundin, C. (2012). Corporate social responsibility: Fallacies and flaws. MBA Student Scholarship. http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/mba_student/7. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  7. Business Green. (2008). U.S. Execs: CSR initiatives do boost the bottom line. http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/1803595/us-execs-csr-initiatives-boost-line. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  8. Capriotti, P. 2011. Communicating corporate social responsibility through the internet and social media. In Handbook of communication and corporate social responsibility, ed. O. Ihlen, J. Bartlett, and S. May, 358–378. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carroll, A.B. 1991. The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: Toward the moral management of organizational stakeholders. Business Horizons 34 (4): 39–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carroll, A.B., and K.M. Shabana. 2010. The business case for corporate social responsibility: A review of concepts, research and practice. International Journal of Management Reviews 12 (1): 85–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chaudhuri, A., and M.B. Holbrook. 2001. The chain effects from brand trust and brand affect to brand performance: The role of brand loyalty. Journal of Marketing 65 (2): 81–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen, J.C., D.M. Patten, and R.W. Roberts. 2008. Corporate charitable contributions: A corporate social performance or legitimacy strategy? Journal of Business Ethics 82 (1): 131–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen, Y., S. Fay, and Q. Wang. 2011. The role of marketing in social media: How online consumer reviews evolve. The Journal of Interactive Marketing 25 (2): 85–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chevalier, J.A., and D. Mayzlin. 2006. The effect of word of mouth on sale: Online book reviews. Journal of Marketing Research 43 (3): 345–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clemons, E.K., G.G. Gao, and L.M. Hitt. 2006. When online reviews meet hyperdifferentiation: A study of the craft beer industry. Journal of Management of Information Systems 23 (2): 149–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cornelissen, J.P., S.A. Haslam, and J.M. Balmer. 2007. Social identity, organizational identity, and corporate identity: Towards an integrated understanding of processes, patternings and products. British Journal of Brand Management 18: S1–S16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. David, P., S. Kline, and D. Yang. 2005. Corporate social responsibility practices, corporate identity, and purchase intention: A dual-process model. Journal of Public Relations Research 17 (3): 291–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dellarocas, C., G.G. Gao, and R. Narayan. 2010. Are consumers more likely to contribute online reviews for hit or niche products? Journal of Management Information Systems 27 (2): 127–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Du, S., C.B. Bhattacharya, and S. Sen. 2007. Reaping relational rewards from corporate social responsibility: The role of competitive positioning. International Journal of Research in Marketing 24 (3): 224–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eisenegger, M., and M. Schranz. 2011. Reputation management and corporate social responsibility. In The handbook of communication and corporate social responsibility, ed. Ø. Ihlen, J.L. Bartlett, and S. May, 128–146. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. England-Nelson, J. (2014). Manhattan Beach-based Skechers accused of sketchy labor practices. Daily Breeze. http://www.dailybreeze.com/social-affairs/20140625/manhattan-beach-based-skechers-accused-of-sketchy-labor-practices. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  22. Griskevicius, V., J.M. Tybur, and B. Van den Bergh. 2010. Going green to be seen: Status, reputation, and conspicuous conservation. Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes 98 (3): 392–404.Google Scholar
  23. Hennig-Thurau, T., K.P. Gwinner, G. Walsh, and D.M. Gremler. 2004. Electronic word-of-mouth via consumer-opinion platforms: What motivates consumers to articulate themselves on the Internet? Journal of Interactive Marketing 18 (1): 38–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Khare, A., L.I. Labrecque, and A.K. Asare. 2011. The assimilative and contrastive effects of word-of-mouth volume: An experimental examination of online consumer ratings. Journal of Retailing 87 (1): 111–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. King, R.A., P. Racherla, and V.D. Bush. 2014. What we know and don’t know about online word-of-mouth: A review and synthesis of the literature. Journal of Interactive Marketing 28 (3): 167–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kitchin, T. 2003. Corporate social responsibility: A brand explanation. Journal of Brand Management 10 (4): 312–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Klein, J., and N. Dawar. 2004. Corporate social responsibility and consumers’ attributions and brand evaluations in product-harm crisis. International Journal of Research in Marketing 21 (3): 203–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lantos, G.P. 2001. The boundaries of strategic corporate responsibility. Journal of Consumer Marketing 18 (7): 595–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lee, M., and J. Jay. 2015. Strategic responses to hybrid social ventures. California Management Review 57 (3): 126–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lee, K.H., and D. Shin. 2010. Consumers’ responses to CSR activities: The linkage between increased awareness and purchase intention. Public Relations Review 36 (2): 193–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mainwaring, S. (2010). TOMS vs. BOBS: How Skechers shot themselves in the foot. We First Branding. http://wefirstbranding.com/advertising/toms-vs-bobs-how-skeechers-shot-themselves-in-the-foot. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  32. Marin, L., and S. Ruiz. 2007. “I need you too!” Corporate identity attractiveness for consumers and the role of social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics 71 (3): 245–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marin, L., S. Ruiz, and A. Rubio. 2009. The role of identity salience in the effect of corporate social responsibility on consumer behavior. Journal of Business Ethics 84 (1): 65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Marquis, C., and Park, A. (2014). Inside the buy-one-give-one model. Stanford Social Innovation Review. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/inside_the_buy_one_give_one_model. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  35. Matten, D., and J. Moon. 2008. “Implicit” and “explicit” CSR: A conceptual framework for comparative understanding of corporate social responsibility. Academy of Management Review 33 (2): 404–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller, B.M., and J.C. Lellis. 2014. Response to marketplace advocacy messages by sponsor and topic within the energy industry: Should corporation or industry trade groups do the talking? Journal of Applied Communication Research 43 (1): 66–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mohr, L.A., and D.J. Webb. 2005. The effects of corporate social responsibility and price on consumer responses. Journal of Consumer Affairs 39 (1): 121–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mohr, L.A., D.J. Webb, and K.E. Harris. 2001. Do consumers expect companies to be socially responsible? The impact of corporate social responsibility on buying behavior. Journal of Consumer Affairs 35 (1): 45–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Morsing, M. 2001. Conspicuous responsibility: Communicating responsibility—To whom? In Corporate values and responsibility: The case of Denmark, ed. M. Morsing, and C. Thyssen. Samfundslitteratur: Frederiksberg.Google Scholar
  40. Öberseder, M., B.B. Schlegelmilch, and V. Gruber. 2011. “Why don’t consumers care about CSR?”: A qualitative study exploring the role of CSR in consumption decisions. Journal of Business Ethics 104 (4): 449–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Olsen, L.E., and A. Peretz. 2011. Conscientious brand criteria: A framework and a case example from the clothing industry. Journal of Brand Management 18 (9): 639–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ponte, S., and L.A. Richey. 2014. Buying into development? Brand Aid forms of cause-related marketing. Third World Quarterly 35 (1): 65–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rupp, L., and Banerjee, D. (2014). Toms sells 50% stake to Bain Capital to fund sales growth. Bloomberg News. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-08-20/toms-sells-50-stake-to-bain-capital. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  44. Skechers. (2015). 2014 annual report of Skechers USA Inc. http://skx.com/investor.jsp?p=2. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  45. Stanwick, P.A., and S.D. Stanwick. 1998. The relationship between corporate social performance, and organizational size, financial performance, and environmental performance: An empirical examination. Journal of Business Ethics 17 (2): 195–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tajfel, H., and J.D. Turner. 1979. An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In The social psychology of intergroup relations, ed. W.G. Austin, and S. Worchel, 33–47. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  47. Tschorn, A. (2010). TOMS has its alpargata, and now so does BOBS. Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/17/image/la-ig-bobs-20101017. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  48. TOMS Giving Report. (2013). http://www.toms.com/static/www/pdf/TOMS_Giving_Report_2013.pdf. Accessed 27 Aug 2017.
  49. Toro, F. (2014). TOMS’ One-for-One: Because children this cute can’t be wrong. The Campaign for Boring Development. http://boringdevelopment.com/2014/03/14/toms-one-for-one-because-children-this-cute-cant-be-wrong. Accessed 15 Sept 2016.
  50. Townsend, C., and S. Sood. 2012. Self-affirmation though the choice of highly aesthetic products. Journal of Consumer Research 39 (2): 415–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication, 4005 Social Sciences & Media StudiesUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

Personalised recommendations