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Consumers’ evaluation toward tobacco companies: implications for social marketing

Denni Arli (Department of Marketing, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Sharyn Rundle-Thiele (Social Marketing @ Griffith, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.)
Hari Lasmono (Faculty of Psychology, Surabaya University, Surabaya, Indonesia)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 5 May 2015




Given the well-documented outcomes of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, tobacco companies that exhibit CSR may be trusted and consumers may hold positive attitudes towards tobacco companies further contributing to and reinforcing smoking behaviours, which is a highly undesired and addictive behaviour. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to understand smokers and non-smokers views of CSR activities by Indonesian tobacco companies.


Data were collected from a large private university in Surabaya, Indonesia. There were 191 usable questionnaires with 91.7 per cent male and 8.3 per cent female. The number of smokers and non-smokers were evenly split, 49 per cent smokers and 51 per cent non-smokers which is slightly lower than the 67 per cent of male smokers in Indonesia. Of the 94 smokers in the sample, 69 per cent reported smoking on a daily basis.


The results of this study suggest that CSR activities are able to cultivate favourable images of the tobacco companies especially for those who are currently smoking. CSR in the domain of the tobacco industry increases people’s favourable association with the company. Moreover, the findings show that consumer-company identification does not affect company evaluation (CE) and consumer sensitivity towards corporate social performance becomes a motivator which positively affects CE among smokers.

Practical implications

This study has important implications for social marketing practice and research where the dominant focus remains on the downstream. In the case of smoking in Indonesia social marketing efforts directed towards mid and upstream may be more effective than downstream social marketing interventions which have to compete with global tobacco corporations.


This is one of the first studies to explore the impact of CSR and one of the first studies to examine Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country which exhibits a very high male smoking rate.



Arli, D., Rundle-Thiele, S. and Lasmono, H. (2015), "Consumers’ evaluation toward tobacco companies: implications for social marketing", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 276-291.



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