The impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance and perceived brand quality on customer-based brand preference

Matthew Tingchi Liu (Marketing Department, FBA, University of Macau, Taipa, Macau)
Ipkin Anthony Wong (Institute for Tourism Studies, Colina de Mong-Ha, Macau)
Guicheng Shi (Marketing Department, Macau University of Science and Technology, Cotai, Macau)
Rongwei Chu (Management School, Fudan University, Shanghai, China)
James L. Brock (School of Business, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Publication date: 6 May 2014

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate how corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance (i.e. to the environment, society and stakeholders) and perceived brand quality influence brand preference. The mediating effect of perceived brand quality on the relationship between CSR performance and brand preference is also studied.

Design/methodology/approach

In 2011, 243 valid responses to questionnaire surveys were collected from a convenience sample in China. Regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses.

Findings

Customers’ brand preference can be enhanced by CSR performance. Performance in each of the three CSR domains (i.e. environment, society and stakeholders) positively impacts brand preference, although to different degrees. The impact of CSR on stakeholders has the strongest influence on Chinese customers’ brand preference among the three CSR domains. Perceived brand quality was found to be a mediator of the relationship between CSR performance and brand preference.

Research limitations/implications

This research studies the relationship between CSR performance and brand preference. Results show CSR performance is not the strongest predictor of branding outcomes, its explanatory power is comparatively weaker than that of perceived brand quality. Additionally, we found a mediating effect of perceived brand quality on the relationship between CSR performance and brand preference.

Practical implications

Brands can be more attractive to Chinese consumers when brands take appropriate investments in CSR activities. A socially responsible brand is not guaranteed to yield a competitive advantage. Instead a competitive advantage will more likely result through the employment of the appropriate CSR strategies, with a focus on stakeholders’ interests.

Originality/value

The current research contributes to the literature by finding that not all CSR activities are equally effective. Customers in emerging markets still appear to be focused more on the quality of brands and, to some extent, stakeholder CSR practice, as these provide direct benefits to customers. Findings of this study also support the notion that Chinese consumers are beginning to use CSR information to evaluate brands.

Keywords

Citation

Tingchi Liu, M., Anthony Wong, I., Shi, G., Chu, R. and L. Brock, J. (2014), "The impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance and perceived brand quality on customer-based brand preference", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 181-194. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-09-2012-0171

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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