Brand Equity Effects of Different Types of CSR: A Quantitative Study of the Swedish Food Industry
Sammanfattning: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an area that has become increasingly important over the last decades, both for companies and for the research community. Recently, scholars have begun to argue that the way in which corporations implement and practice CSR influences its outcomes. However, there is a lack of understanding on how different types of CSR activities affect corporate brands. The purpose of this master thesis is to investigate whether different types of CSR activities differ in their effects on customer-based brand equity, and whether corporate reputation mediates these effects. Based on a literature review, two action based types of CSR, philanthropic CSR and strategic CSR, were included in this study. Philanthropic CSR involves the donation of money to a societal cause, while strategic CSR refers to sustainability initiatives that support the core business activities of a firm. In a quantitative experiment, participants were exposed to different treatments where the two factors of CSR type and level of corporate reputation had been manipulated. A total of 1,324 responses were collected and the results were analysed through a two-way analysis of variance.The results revealed that the branding effects differ between the two CSR types. Strategic CSR activities led to a significantly higher level of brand equity than philanthropic CSR activities. There is no clear evidence as to whether corporate reputation mediates the branding effects. However, the study provides an indication that strategic CSR might be more effective for companies with a bad reputation while the two CSR types are equally effective for companies that enjoy a good reputation.
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