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Coerced CSR: lessons from consumer values and purchasing behavior

Abosede Ijabadeniyi (Marketing and Retail Management, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa)
Jeevarathnam Parthasarathy Govender (Marketing and Retail Management, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa)

Corporate Communications: An International Journal

ISSN: 1356-3289

Article publication date: 1 May 2019

Issue publication date: 31 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the underlying corporate social responsibility (CSR) factors which trigger consumers’ scrutiny of corporate behavior in the purchasing experience. There is more focus on how the direct effects of CSR can predict consumer behavior than the expression of value-based purchasing habits, especially in relation to how the multidimensionality of consumers’ expectations of CSR indirectly informs such behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

Mall-intercept survey interviews were conducted with 411 shoppers across five shopping malls in South Africa. Data were based on the emotional, social and functional values consumers derive from the purchasing experience vis-à-vis economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic expectations of CSR and analyzed using the path analysis technique of structural equation modeling.

Findings

It was found that the relationship between consumers’ sense of value and purchasing behavior is mediated by perceived fulfillment of legal expectations of CSR (a primary redressing tool). Conversely, the fulfillment of ethical and economic CSR expectations (secondary redressing tools) serves as moderators of the relationship.

Research limitations/implications

The benefit of approaching corporate communication from a value-based perspective is a proactive risk mitigation strategy. Consumers’ sense of value in the purchasing experience is triggered by companies’ adherence to institutionalized law on corporate behavior and reinforced by compliance to code of ethics and financial viability.

Practical implications

This study offers insights for understanding how consumers redress corporate misconduct during crisis through the buying experience and explains how such understanding can be used to better predict and manage crisis communication.

Social implications

The findings of this study suggest that CSR and corporate communication practices should be informed by the taken-for-granted assumptions which underpin espoused consumer values, where negligence of unspoken patterns of CSR-based consumer behavior could signal a crisis risk.

Originality/value

This study offers a model which demonstrates for the first time that consumers implicitly utilize CSR to redress corporate misconduct in the purchasing experience.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The study reported in this paper was funded by the National Research Foundation, South Africa.

Citation

Ijabadeniyi, A. and Govender, J.P. (2019), "Coerced CSR: lessons from consumer values and purchasing behavior", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 515-531. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-10-2018-0110

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited