The Effects of Consumer Evaluations of Corporate Social Responsibility Content and Delivery on Skepticism and Behavioral Reactions: From An Information Processing Theory Perspective
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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a rising concern for consumers as well as a growing determinant on how consumers perceive a company, especially in the apparel industry. More so, the benefits to both society and companies through CSR have further increased the use of CSR as a way to differentiate between competing apparel companies. Because of the advantages of establishing a socially responsible reputation, apparel companies want to comprehend how they can keep a loyal consumer base. Limited research on how CSR communication messages are delivered and the content of these communication messages (what companies do in regards to CSR) amid skepticism toward overall corporate social responsibility and how it affects retail patronage intention exists. This study aims to fill the gap in the literature by analyzing how a consumer’s evaluations amid skepticism toward overall corporate responsibility affects consumers’ retail patronage intention through company-CSR congruence, consumer-CSR relevancy, information distrust, and self-promotional tone.
Thorough review of the literature leads the author to hypothesize that the content of CSR messages and how these messages are delivered affect a consumer’s level of skepticism toward overall corporate responsibility and their retail patronage intention.
Specifically, company-CSR congruence and consumer-CSR relevancy can mitigate the level of a consumer’s overall skepticism toward corporate responsibility thus allowing a consumer to have greater retail patronage intention. On the other hand, the presence of information distrust and self-promotional tone can heighten skepticism toward overall corporate responsibility leading to a lower level of retail patronage intention. Furthermore, skepticism toward overall corporate responsibility will mediate the effects of company-CSR congruence, consumer-CSR relevancy, information distrust, and self- promotional tone on a consumer’s retail patronage intention. Practical implications of the study will offer apparel companies an insight to how consumers process skepticism and if the portrayal of the right CSR activities and the right communication of these activities affects a consumer’s retail patronage intention.