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Corporate Brand Repositioning with CSR as the Differentiating Factor: A Study on Consumer Perceptions

Author

Listed:
  • Vilppo, Tiina

    (Department of Marketing)

  • Lindberg-Repo, Kirsti

    (Department of Marketing)

Abstract

Purpose – This research paper studies how the strategy of repositioning enables marketers to communicate CSR as their brand’s differentiating factor. It aims at understanding how consumer perceptions can be managed to generate brand value through corporate brand repositioning when CSR is the differentiating factor. The purpose of this paper is to answer the following research question: How can consumer perceptions be managed to generate brand value through corporate brand repositioning when CSR is the differentiating factor? The two research objectives were: 1. to build a model, which describes the different components of consumer perceptions involved in generation of brand value through repositioning when CSR is the differentiating factor, 2. to identify the most critical components in the context of the case company, IKEA for generation of brand value during the process of corporate brand repositioning. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on the literature review covering the logic of brand value generation, repositioning strategy and consumer perceptions connected to CSR activities. A key concept of the positioning theory, the brand’s differentiating factor, was explored. Previous studies have concluded that desirability of the differentiating factor largely determines the level of brand value-creation for the target customers. The criterion of desirability is based on three dimensions: relevance, distinctiveness and believability. A model was built in terms of these desirability dimensions. This paper takes a case study approach where the predefined theoretical framework is tested using IKEA as the case company. When developing insights on the multifaceted nature of brand perceptions, personal interviews and individual probing are vital. They enable the interviewees to reflect on their feelings and perceptions with their own words. This is why the data collection was based on means-end type of questioning. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 consumers. Findings – The paper highlights five critical components that may determine whether IKEA will fail in its repositioning efforts. The majority of the critical components involved believability perceptions. Hence, according to the findings, establishing credibility and trustworthiness for the brand in the context of CSR seems primary. The most critical components identified of the believability aspect were: providing proof of responsible codes of conduct via conducting specific and concrete CSR actions, connecting the company’s products and the social cause, and building a linkage between the initial and new positioning while also weakening the old positioning. Originality/value – Marketers’ obligation is to prepare the company for future demands. Companies all over the globe have recognized the durable trend of responsibility and sustainability. Consumer´s worry about the environmental and social impact of modern lifestyles is growing. This is why Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) provides brands an important source of differentiation and strength in the future. The strategy of repositioning enables marketers to communicate CSR as their brand’s differentiating factor. This study aimed at understanding how consumer perceptions can be managed to generate brand value through corporate brand repositioning when CSR is the differentiating factor.

Suggested Citation

  • Vilppo, Tiina & Lindberg-Repo, Kirsti, 2011. "Corporate Brand Repositioning with CSR as the Differentiating Factor: A Study on Consumer Perceptions," Working Papers 557, Hanken School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:hanken:0557
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/26580
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    Keywords

    corporate social responsibility; CSR; corporate brand; repositioning;

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