Creating Consumer Confidence in CSR Communications [chapter]

Guido Berens, Wybe T. Popma
2014 Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility: Perspectives and Practice  
A large number of studies have suggested that consumers in Western countries increasingly attach importance to corporate social responsibility (CSR), i.e., the social and environmental activities of the companies they buy from (e.g., Cone, 2005) . This is paralleled by an increasing interest in CSR among businesses, particularly large companies. For example, a survey by the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College (CCCBC, 2005) reported that 98% of the large companies surveyed in the
more » ... .S. were actively involved in at least some CSR activities, and that 53% were motivated in these activities by the belief that CSR is important to consumers. In 2009, a follow-up survey showed that most companies had not decreased their CSR activities in spite of the economic crisis (CCCBC, 2009). However, as several studies show, consumers often lack knowledge of specific companies' CSR activities, which creates a gap between their attitudes and actual behavior (Sen et al., 2006; Young et al., 2010). The effectiveness of CSR activities may thus be improved by improving communication about CSR to consumers. However, it is not clear in what way this communication should take place. Over the last decades, several empirical studies have been devoted to some aspect of the effectiveness of CSR communication. However, these studies have been published in a wide variety of fields, such as consumer psychology, advertising, and consumer policy, and an overview of their results is lacking. Recently, Du et al. (2010) published a review of the CSR communication literature, but this review was very limited in scope, surveying only the key publications in the field. In this paper, we provide a more comprehensive review of the literature dealing with the effectiveness of CSR communication in terms of changing consumer perceptions and potentially stimulating their buying behaviour. In addition, we look at the parties involved in construction and verification of the CSR message and the possible deontological (relating to the firm's motives and actions) and/or consequentialist (relating to the outcomes of these actions)
doi:10.1108/s2043-9059(2014)0000006004 fatcat:rehjktunlrcrlfoiocmtivuwti