The Role of Identity Salience in the Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility on Consumer Behavior

Journal of Business Ethics 84 (1):65-78 (2009)


Based on the assumption that consumers will reward firms for their support of social programs, many organizations have adopted corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. Drawing on social identity theory, a model of influence of CSR on loyalty is developed and tested using a sample of real consumers. Results demonstrate that CSR initiatives are linked to stronger loyalty both because the consumer develops a more positive company evaluation, and because one identifies more strongly with the company. Moreover, identity salience is shown to play a crucial role in the influence of CSR initiatives on consumer loyalty when this influence occurs through consumer-company identification. A strong identifier is not necessarily in a constant state of salience, but activating identity salience of a particular consumer social identity (a company) will affect consumer reactions to product stimuli, increasing consumer loyalty.

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