Doing Poorly by Doing Good: Corporate Social Responsibility and Brand Concepts
Although the idea of brand concepts has been around for a while, very little research addresses how brand concepts may influence consumer responses to corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Four studies reveal that communicating the CSR actions of a luxury brand concept causes a decline in evaluations, relative to control. A luxury brand’s self-enhancement concept (i.e., dominance over people and resources) is in conflict with the CSR information’s self-transcendence concept (i.e., protecting the welfare of all), which causes disfluency and a decline in evaluations. These effects do not emerge for brands with openness (i.e., following emotional pursuits in uncertain directions) or conservation (i.e., protecting the status quo) concepts that do not conflict with CSR. The effects for luxury brand concepts disappeared when the informativeness of the disfluency was undermined but were accentuated in an abstract (vs. concrete) mind-set. These findings implicate brand concepts as a key factor in how consumers respond to CSR activities.
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