Consumer scepticism towards corporate social responsibility: the case of Generation Z in the UK

Nguyen, Nga Thi (2021) Consumer scepticism towards corporate social responsibility: the case of Generation Z in the UK. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Abstract

Attempts have been made to investigate the drivers of scepticism towards corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, the results are inconclusive and inconsistent. Consequently, some scholars have called for investigations into additional drivers of CSR scepticism. To date, there has been no research on CSR scepticism among Generation Z (Gen Z) in the UK, though related studies have focused heavily on consumer scepticism towards cause-related marketing, one dimension of CSR. Thus, the current study is the first to investigate consumer scepticism towards an underexplored dimension of CSR (socially responsible business practices) among Gen Z in the UK. Qualitative data were collected using face-to-face and online open-ended semi-structured interviews with 35 Gen Z respondents in the UK. The sample was recruited using the snowball and purposive sampling techniques. Data were then analysed using NVivo software.
The study revealed numerous factors influencing scepticism towards brands and retailers’ socially responsible initiatives. These concepts include lack of evidence, impacts, multiple cues that indicate brands and retailers are socially responsible, the transparency of the initiatives, the reputation of the brand/retailer, the size of the brand/retailer and the scale of their activities, how brands and retailers present themselves and their history of socially responsible behaviour. Some potential factors that might not necessarily lead to scepticism were also found. The finding also indicated that perceptions and evaluations of information type and credibility could impact scepticism towards information-related factors about brands and retailers’ socially responsible initiatives. Additionally, this study noted that scepticism is not a permanent state of mind but is associated with the disbelief in information-related factors, moving beyond previously investigated contexts.
Different levels of scepticism among members of Gen Z were reflected through the attribution of motive(s) behind brands and retailers’ socially responsible initiatives. Unlike past studies, this study provided insights into the causal structure of consumer attribution of motives behind brands and retailers’ socially responsible initiatives, making an important contribution to theory-building in the CSR scepticism domain. For the first time, through the investigation of factors influencing trust, the study unveiled the potential factors influencing scepticism and uncovered consumers’ information processing behaviours which corresponded to different levels of scepticism among the interviewed members of Gen Z. Practically, the study offers implications for (1) brands, manufacturers and retailers regarding CSR practices and communications and (2) governing bodies and policymakers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Theme:
Research Areas: A. > Business School
B. > Theses
Item ID: 35452
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2022 08:56
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:52
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/35452

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