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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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For example, looking at the IDV index, one comes to understand that India is a good mixture

between a collective and individualistic society, a stark contrast from the rest especially China, who

lean towards a more collective mind-set. While research has shown that CSR is linked to a

collective mind-set (Karaosman et al., 2015), Matten & Moon (2008) showed that individualistic

cultures value ‘Explicit CSR' (corporations addressing social issues through legal actions).

Contrasting this, collectivist cultures value ‘Implicit CSR' (corporations addressing social issues

through voluntary actions). Similarly, Katz et al. (2001) showed that people from feminine cultures

attach more importance to CSR related issues as they support good causes and preservation of the

natural environment. Russia's MAS index reflects a society driven by largely feminine values,

showing that Russian consumers would greatly favour CSR activities. However, a recent article on

the Guardian (2011) showed that leadership in CSR activities require a combination of masculine

and feminine values. Brazil, India and China show that they are a mixture of masculine and feminine

values while competition and rational thinking (masculine values) are important, cooperation and

holistic thinking (feminine values) are equally important.

2.3 Consumer Behavior Reactions to CSR

Schiffman & Kanuk (2007) defined the 4 major aspects that play a role in consumer behavior

as: Consumer attitude, loyalty, product evaluation and Word of Mouth. Research shows that CSR

has an effect on the same 4 aspects: Consumer attitude (Becker-Olsen et al., 2006), Consumer

loyalty (Sen et. al., 2006), Product Evaluation (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2001) and Word of mouth

(Bhattacharya & Sen, 2004). However, as noted by Bhattachrya & Sen (2004), there is significance



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Image 1: Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions for BRIC Nations (Geert-Hofstede, 2010)

MSc Management CID: 00972342


heterogeneity across consumers and their response to CSR (i.e. one size does not fit all), hence

why the four aspects that will be reviewed in this report are: Pricing, Purchasing Power, Consumer

attitude (incl. loyalty) and word of mouth. Appendix C has market research provided by Esomar

(2006) to back up the findings below.

2.3.1 Pricing

Research done by Crawford & Mathews (2001) suggests that the willingness of a consumer

to pay a higher price for a product is determined by how fair that price is according to them. The

most important factor determining price fairness as shown by Xia et. al., (2004) and Bolton & Alba

(2006), is the consumers assessment of the company motives behind the price increase based on

information provided by marketing campaigns (Vaidyanathan & Aggarwal, 2003; Xia et. al., 2004).

Thus, if consumers conclude that the higher price is due to a positive reason e.g. funding CSR

efforts (Mohr & Webb, 2005), it is perceived as less unfair. Backing this is Auger et al., (2003) and

Barone et al., (2000) who indicated that consumers are more willing to pay a higher price for

products that they perceive as ethical.

Moving away from purchase intentions, other behaviors such as switching to competitors or

complaining about price increase is also influenced by their perception of price (Xia et al., 2004).

Meaning, if a consumer perceives the price increase as unfair, they are likely to switch to a

competitor and bad-mouth the company. As consumers of BRIC nations tend me more sensitive to

price of product, mainly due to the economic standing of the country (Court & Narasimhan, 2010),

they would be more accepting of a CSR-based price increase by deeming it "fair" which would

increase the likelihood of them purchasing products from the company, and displaying a lower

tendency to switch to a competitor or complain.

2.3.2 Purchasing Power

This aspect is deemed as particularly influential, especially in emerging economies like BRIC

nations as the reaction of a consumer to a CSR based price increase is heavily determined by their

relative purchasing power. Defined by Wakefield & Inman (2003), purchasing power is derived from

income and has a direct influence on the consumption of discretionary goods as well as reducing

price sensitivity for the consumer. While, the purchase of "lower quality" goods usually stems from

the lack of purchasing power because one may not be able to afford goods of "higher quality"

(Sivakumar & Raj, 1997). Research by Dubinsky et al., (2005) has shown that consumers in a lower

income bracket tend to be more idealistic, and less tolerant of an ethically questionable purchase.

This suggests that while a lower purchasing power is a financial constraint in the case of a CSR

based price increase, their stringent ethical standards may dampen the influence of price sensitivity

on their loyalty to a company.

MSc Management CID: 00972342


As the purchasing power of consumers in developing economies continues to increase due

to the growing middle class (PwC, n.d.), so will their willingness to purchase a more expensive CSR

priced product.

2.3.3 Consumer Attitude (Incl. Loyalty)

One of the most important insights revealed by research on consumers regarding CSR is

that this stakeholder group tends to reward companies that engage in CSR policies (Dawkins &

Lewis, 2003). Either through a greater willingness to purchase a company's products, as noticed by

Smith (2003) or longer-term relations (Bird et. al., 2007) (i.e. increased loyalty) and willingness to

advertise the product to others (Mahon & Wartick, 2003; Siltaoja, 2006). However, consumers have

been known to also punish firms through boycotts and protests, if they have proven to be insincere

in their CSR practices (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2001). Personal satisfaction is another major factor that

plays an important role in a consumer's attitude. As noted by Bhattacharya & Sen (2004) and Mohr

& Webb (2005) CSR is known to directly affect a consumer's sense of well-being by making them

feel good about themselves.

Oliver (1999) and Bhattacharya & Sen (2004) showed that consumer loyalty is influenced

strongly by a company's CSR initiative. This may mean that if a company's CSR initiatives are

adequate, consumers may still purchase other brands. However, if the company pays more

attention to its CSR performance, it is possible that it would garner a bigger loyal family. An example

of this, as shown by Bhattacharya & Sen (2004), is The Body Shop, which has a large loyal

consumer following from animal protectors as they claim to not engage in any animal testing.

2.3.4 Word of Mouth Approach

Traditionally defined as "informal communication between private parties concerning

evaluations of goods and service", it is a way to reflect a response regarding the company's

performance from the consumers' perspective (Anderson, 1998). Meaning, if a company's

performance exceeds that of what a consumer expects, it is highly likely that the consumer would

recommend the company to someone else and vice versa. Hence, it can be ascertained that the

WOM approach plays an important role in consumers buying decision and product evaluation.

In a study done by Bhattacharya & Sen (2004), WOM approach has been shown to

positively influence a company's CSR initiatives as when a company performs better, consumers

are willing to pay more and recommend the product to their friends. It can also help with raising

awareness as, one of the main weaknesses is the existing lack of awareness around CSR.

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