Advertisement

Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 9–20 | Cite as

Redefining fit: examining CSR company-issue fit in stigmatized industries

  • Lucinda AustinEmail author
  • Barbara Miller Gaither
Original Article
  • 67 Downloads

Abstract

This study explores the impact of the “fit” of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in industries stigmatized by society, or industries whose products or production processes have a negative societal impact. While extant research suggests that CSR initiatives that are highly congruent with a company’s products or services tend to generate more favorable public outcomes, this study tested hypotheses suggesting fit would likely function differently within stigmatized industries. In these instances, although the company and CSR issue are logically connected, the association is a negative one, as the company or its products have a negative impact on society that it is attempting to address (or appear to address) through a CSR initiative. An experiment involving a fictitious cola company and its promotion of anti-obesity versus literacy CSR activities was used to examine the effect of fit with negative contribution on skepticism, attitudes toward the company and the CSR initiative, and participants’ stated supportive intentions toward the company. In partial support of the hypotheses, findings revealed that, for the high-fit negative contribution CSR initiative (anti-obesity), skepticism was heightened while both attitudes toward the company and supportive intentions toward the company’s products were negatively impacted, in comparison with the low-fit CSR initiative (literacy). While attitudes about the social initiatives of anti-obesity versus literacy were not significantly different, findings also suggest participants felt obesity was a more important cause for the cola company to undertake. The practical and ethical implications for CSR are discussed.

Keywords

Corporate social responsibility CSR fit Stigmatized industry Skepticism Attitude Supportive intentions 

References

  1. Aldoory, L., J.-N. Kim, and N. Tindall. 2010. The influence of perceived shared risk in crisis communication: Elaborating the situational theory of publics. Public Relations Review 36(2): 134–140.Google Scholar
  2. Aksak, E.O., M.A. Ferguson, and S.A. Duman. 2016. Corporate social responsibility and CSR fit as predictors of corporate reputation: A global perspective. Public Relations Review 42(1): 79–81.Google Scholar
  3. Austin, L.L., and B.M. Gaither. 2016. Examining public response to corporate social initiative types: A quantitative content analysis of Coca-Cola’s social media. Social Marketing Quarterly 22(4): 290–306.Google Scholar
  4. Austin, L., B.F. Liu, and Y. Jin. 2012. How audiences seek out crisis information: Exploring the social-mediated crisis communication model. Journal of Applied Communication Research 40(2): 188–207.Google Scholar
  5. Bae, J., and G. Cameron. 2006. Conditioning effect of prior reputation on perception of corporate giving. Public Relations Review 32(2): 144–150.Google Scholar
  6. Basil, M.D. 1996. The use of student samples in communication research. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 40(3): 431–440.Google Scholar
  7. Becker-Olsen, K.L., B.A. Cudmore, and R.P. Hill. 2006. The impact of perceived corporate social responsibility on consumer behaviour. Journal of Business Research 59(1): 46–53.Google Scholar
  8. Bhattacharya, C.B., and S. Sen. 2004. Doing better at doing good: When, why, and how consumers respond to corporate social initiatives. California Management Review 47(1): 9–24.Google Scholar
  9. Bigne, E., R. Curras-Perez, and J. Aldas-Manzano. 2012. Dual nature of cause-brand fit. European Journal of Marketing 46(3/4): 575–594.Google Scholar
  10. Cho, S., and Y. Hong. 2009. Netizens’ evaluations of corporate social responsibility: Content analysis of CSR news stories and online readers’ comments. Public Relations Review 35(2): 147–149.Google Scholar
  11. Chua, S.C., and J.S. Lin. 2013. Consumers’ perception of corporate social responsibility in the United States and China: A study of female cosmetics consumers. International Journal of Strategic Communication 7(1): 43–64.Google Scholar
  12. Cone, C.L., M.A. Feldman, and A.T. DaSilva. 2003. Causes and effects. Harvard Business Review 81(7): 95–101.Google Scholar
  13. Darmon, K., K. Fitzpatrick, and C. Bronstein. 2008. Krafting the obesity message: A case study in framing and issues management. Public Relations Review 34(4): 373–379.Google Scholar
  14. de Bakker, F.G.A., and F. den Hond. 2008. Activists’ influence tactics and corporate policies. Business Communication Quarterly 71(1): 107–111.Google Scholar
  15. de Koning, L., V.S. Malik, M.D. Kellogg, E.B. Rimm, W.C. Willett, and F.B. Hu. 2012. Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation 125(14): 1735–1741.Google Scholar
  16. Ellen, P.S., D.J. Webb, and L.A. Mohr. 2006. Building corporate associations: Consumer attributions for corporate socially responsible programs. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 34(2): 147–157.Google Scholar
  17. Elving, W. 2013. Scepticism and corporate social responsibility communications: The influence of fit and reputation. Journal of Marketing Communications 19(4): 277–292.Google Scholar
  18. Forehand, M.R., and S. Grier. 2003. Is honesty the best policy? The effect of stated company intent on consumer skepticism. Journal of Consumer Psychology 13(3): 349–356.Google Scholar
  19. Gaither, B.M., and L. Austin. 2016. Campaign and corporate goals in conflict: Exploring company-issue congruence through a content analysis of Coca-Cola’s Twitter feed. Public Relations Review 42(4): 698–709.Google Scholar
  20. Gregory, R.S., and T.A. Satterfield. 2002. Beyond perception: The experience of risk and stigma in community contexts. Risk Analysis 22(2): 347–358.Google Scholar
  21. Grougiou, V., E. Dedoulis, and S. Leventis. 2016. Corporate social responsibility and organizational stigma: The case of “sin” industries. Journal of Business Research 69(2): 905–914.Google Scholar
  22. Groza, M.D., M.R. Pronschinske, and M. Walker. 2011. Perceived organizational motives and consumer responses to proactive and reactive CSR. Journal of Business Ethics 102(4): 639–652.Google Scholar
  23. Grunig, J.E. 1997. A situational theory of publics: Conceptual history, recent challenges, and new research. In Public Relations Research: An International Perspective ed. D. Moss, T. MacManus, and D. Vercic, 3–48. London: International Thomson Business.Google Scholar
  24. Gupta, S., and J. Pirsch. 2006. The company-cause-customer fit decision in cause-related marketing. Journal of Consumer Marketing 23(6): 314–326.Google Scholar
  25. Herrick, C. 2009. Shifting blame/selling health: Corporate social responsibility in the age of obesity. Sociology of Health & Illness 31(1): 51–65.Google Scholar
  26. Hoeffler, S., and K.L. Keller. 2002. Building brand equity through corporate societal marketing. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 21(1): 78–89.Google Scholar
  27. Isaksson, L., T. Kiessling, and M. Harvey. 2014. Corporate social responsibility: Why bother? Organizational Dynamics 43(1): 64–72.Google Scholar
  28. Kim, H.S. 2011. A reputational approach examining publics’ attributions on corporate social responsibility motives. Asian Journal of Communication 21(1): 84–101.Google Scholar
  29. Kim, Y. 2014. Strategic communication of corporate social responsibility (CSR): Effects of stated motives and corporate reputation on stakeholder responses. Public Relations Review 40(5): 838–840.Google Scholar
  30. Kim, J.N., and J.E. Grunig. 2011. Problem solving and communicative action: A situational theory of problem solving. Journal of Communication 61: 120–149.Google Scholar
  31. Kim, S., and Y.-J. Lee. 2012. The complex attribution process of CSR motives. Public Relations Review 38(1): 168–170.Google Scholar
  32. Kim, H.S., and S.Y. Lee. 2015. Testing the buffering and boomerang effects of CSR Practices on consumers’ perception of a corporation during a crisis. Corporate Reputation Review 18(4): 277–293.Google Scholar
  33. Lee, E.M., S.-Y. Park, M.I. Rapert, and C.L. Newman. 2012. Does perceived consumer fit matter in corporate social responsibility issues? Journal of Business Research 65(11): 1558–1564.Google Scholar
  34. Liu, B.F., Y. Jin, and L.L. Austin. 2013. The tendency to tell: Understanding publics’ communicative responses to crisis information form and source. Journal of Public Relations Research 25(1): 51–67.Google Scholar
  35. Ludwig, D.S., K.E. Peterson, and S.L. Gortmaker. 2001. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: A prospective, observational analysis. Lancet 357(9255): 505–508.Google Scholar
  36. Malcolm, H. 2016. Bottled water about to beat soda as most consumed beverage. USA Today article, 8 June. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/06/08/americans-cut-calories-drinking-more-bottled-water/85554612, Accessed 30 Sept 2016.
  37. Miller, B., and J. Lellis. 2015. Response to marketplace advocacy messages by sponsor and topic within the energy industry: Should corporations or industry trade groups do the talking? Journal of Applied Communication Research 43(1): 66–90.Google Scholar
  38. Miller, B.M., and J. Sinclair. 2009. Community stakeholder responses to advocacy advertising: Trust, accountability, and the Persuasion Knowledge Model. Journal of Advertising 38(2): 37–52.Google Scholar
  39. Miller, B.M., and J. Sinclair. 2012. Risk perceptions in a resource community and communication implications: Emotion, stigma, and identity. Risk Analysis 32(3): 483–495.Google Scholar
  40. Miller, B.M., and Sinclair, J. 2014. The ethics and boundaries of industry environmental campaigns. Paper presented at the Iowa State University Summer Symposium on Science Communication, Ames, IA, June.Google Scholar
  41. Morsing, M., and M. Schulz. 2006. Corporate social responsibility communication: Stakeholder information, response and involvement strategies. Business Ethics: A European Review 15(4): 323–338.Google Scholar
  42. Morsing, M., M. Schultz, and K.U. Nielsen. 2008. The catch 22 of communicating CSR. Journal of Marketing Communications 14(3): 97–111.Google Scholar
  43. Nan, X., and K. Heo. 2007. Consumer responses to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives: Examining the role of brand-cause fit in cause-related marketing. Journal of Advertising 36(2): 63–74.Google Scholar
  44. Nielsen. 2014. Doing well by doing good: Increasingly, consumers care about increasingly, consumers care about corporate social responsibility, but does concern convert to consumption? Nielsen report, June. http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/apac/docs/reports/2014/Nielsen-Global-Corporate-Social-Responsibility-Report-June-2014.pdf. Accessed 15 Sept 2016.
  45. Nielsen. 2015. The sustainability imperative: New insights on consumer expectations. Nielsen report, October. http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/reports-downloads/2015-reports/global-sustainability-report-oct-2015.pdf. Accessed 15 Sept 2016.
  46. Pernice, R.E., K. van der Veer, R. Ommundsen, and K. Larsen. 2008. On the use of student samples for scale construction. Psychological Reports 102(2): 459–464.Google Scholar
  47. Peterson, R.A., and D.R. Merunka. 2014. Convenience samples of college students and research reproducibility. Journal of Business Research 67(5): 1035–1041.Google Scholar
  48. Polizzotto, P. 2015. Millennials are embracing corporate social responsibility campaigns. Advertising Age article, 18 December. http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/ways-marketers-create-smarter-csr-campaigns/301796. Accessed 30 Sept 2016.
  49. Schultz, F., S. Utz, and A. Göritz. 2011. Is the medium the message? Perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via Twitter, blogs, and traditional media. Public Relations Review 37(1): 20–27.Google Scholar
  50. Shim, K., and S.U. Yang. 2016. The effect of bad reputation: The occurrence of crisis, corporate social responsibility, and perceptions of hypocrisy and attitudes toward a company. Public Relations Review 42(1): 68–78.Google Scholar
  51. Skarmeas, D., and C.N. Leonidou. 2013. When consumers doubt, Watch out! The role of CSR skepticism. Journal of Business Research 66(10): 1831–1838.Google Scholar
  52. Walker, M., B. Heere, M.M. Parent, and D. Drane. 2010. Social responsibility and the Olympic Games: The mediating role of consumer attributions. Journal of Business Ethics 95(4): 77–91.Google Scholar
  53. Yoon, Y., Z. Gurhan-Canli, and N. Schwarz. 2006. The effect of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities on companies with bad reputations. Journal of Consumer Psychology 16(4): 377–390.Google Scholar
  54. Zyglidopoulos, S., A. Georgiadis, C.E. Carroll, and D. Siegel. 2012. Does media attention drive corporate social responsibility? Journal of Business Research 65(11): 1622–1627.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Media and JournalismThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.School of CommunicationsElon UniversityElonUSA

Personalised recommendations