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Consumer reactions to different forms of CSR communication
Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Business Administration and Management.
Dalarna University, School of Technology and Business Studies, Business Administration and Management.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]


Companies around the world are making sizeable investments into CSR

initiatives, but ensuring appropriate returns on these investments remains

challenging. Therefore, it is of value to study the communication of corporate

CSR efforts. The purpose of this study is to investigate how consumers react to

rational versus emotional message strategies in CSR communication. Two

categories of consumer reactions were considered: trust and purchase intention.


Qualitative research with four focus groups was conducted. Participants

discussed three texts regarding a CSR project, utilising a rational, emotional and

a hybrid rational-emotional message strategy respectively. The conversations

focused on trust towards the communication and purchase intention.


Trust - All of the respondents viewed the rational text over the emotional text as

more trustworthy, but they most positively reacted to the combined strategy.

Rational information was viewed as more reliable by many participants, with

emotional cues adding value by better holding their attention.

Purchase intention – Participants more positively reacted to the rational CSR

communication strategy, compared to an emotional strategy. For approximately

half of respondents, the hybrid strategy targeting both rational and emotional

cues was the most successful in terms of purchase intention. Upon further

analysis, it was identified that this division in respondents’ opinions may reflect a

gender difference, where men portrayed the more task oriented and women the

socially sensitive consumers.


The findings support previous research championing the use of rational strategies

over emotional strategies in CSR communication. A number of managerial

implications that can be used by companies in order to better communicate their

CSR activities and increase returns on CSR-related investments are provided.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility communication, corporate communication, trust, purchase intention
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-21879OAI: diva2:941201
Available from: 2016-06-22 Created: 2016-06-22

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