Creating consumer confidence in CSR communications

Guido Berens, Wybe Popma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


We examine the role of communication in stimulating consumer attitudes and buying behavior regarding corporate social responsibility (CSR). We review the literature on communicating CSR to consumers through (1) messages constructed and verified by the company (such as product claims and corporate advertising), (2) messages constructed by the company, but verified by a third party (such as disclosures), and (3) messages constructed and verified by a third party (such as independent consumer guides and publicity). Communication messages constructed and verified by the company can be quite effective in persuading consumers, if they are communicated in a credible way. The latter can, for example, be done by including specific behaviors and/or outcomes in the message. Messages constructed by the firm, but verified by a third party tend to have a higher credibility, but risk containing either too little information or too much. Finally, messages constructed and verified by a third party can be seen as highly credible, but can sometimes be seen as merely PR. In addition, both messages focusing on deontological responsibility (the firm’s motives and behavior), and messages focusing on consequentialist responsibility (the outcomes of the firm’s behavior) seem important to consumers. The results offer suggestions on how to communicate about CSR to consumers. The chapter provides the first comprehensive overview of the literature on communication about CSR to consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunicating Corporate Social Responsibility: perspectives and practice
EditorsR. Tench, W. Sun, B. Jones
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781783507962
ISBN (Print)9781783507955
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Publication series

NameCritical Studies on Corporate Responsibility, Governance and Sustainability


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