Organizations strive to satisfy salient and unmet consumer needs by providing value through their products and services. If environmentally sustainable “green” brands successfully exist by addressing environmental issues in developed countries where environmental consciousness is high, there may be a potential for the existence of newly created CSR brands that aim to deliver socio-economic benefits in developing countries. We empirically tested the potential of a brand that offers socio-economic corporate social responsibility benefits in a developing country- Uzbekistan.
As Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in developing countries is a relatively new concept with little empirical research, this research examined the impact that brands with socio-economic CSR initiatives have on consumers’ purchase intentions. In addition, brands with socio-economic CSR initiatives were compared with brands with no CSR initiatives. Drawing on both marketing and psychological theories, we hypothesized that brands with socio-economic benefits would be received more favorably by consumers in developing countries where economic needs are more salient.
To empirically test the hypotheses, 397 Uzbekistan consumers responded to an online survey. The Brand Potential Index indicators were regressed on consumers’ purchase intentions to a brand with CSR socio-economic benefits and to a brand with no CSR benefits. Regarding the brand with socio-economic benefits, consumers’ perception of brand uniqueness, potential popularity, trust, empathy, and recommendation significantly predicted buying intentions. In contrast, only trust and recommendation significantly predicted buying intention for the brand that lacked socio-economic benefits. While both were significant, the relationship between the BPI indicators was stronger for the brand with socio-economic benefits (R2 = .63 versus .49, p .001). Consumers were more willing to pay a price premium for the brand with socio-economic benefits even though they perceived such brands were of lower quality.
The results supported the potential of CSR brands in developing countries that focus on socio-economic benefits. This research adds value to our understanding of CSR in developing countries, and predictors of consumer purchase intentions using theory from both the marketing and psychological literature. Implications for brand management and future research are provided, including the need to target CSR initiatives that are salient to consumers.