Does CSR Matter? A longitudinal analysis of product reviews for CSR-associated brands
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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.
KeywordsCorporate social responsibility Corporate identity Consumer identity Product reviews Amazon
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.
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