NEW YORK: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives must address the interests of a company’s intended audience to fully support the high-minded intentions of the sponsoring service, a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Writing in the most recent edition of JAR, Yoon-Joo Lee, Assistant Professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, begins with a basic assumption: “Consumers use the self as a reference in evaluating advertising information.”

As such, when people relate to CSR programs, their interest is not necessarily driven by the product, but rather by the social values they attach to the message.

To that end, How Do Self-Values Play a Role in Consumers’ Perception of CSR Advertising? The Moderated Mediation Effect of Self-Referencing examined a pair of core considerations.

In the first instance, it addressed “the underlying motivational factors, status motive, and value placed on business’s role in society that govern consumers’ purchase intention,” Lee explained.

Additionally, the paper assessed “how self-referencing can mediate the relationships between the interaction of different types of motives and behavioral intention with respect to consumers’ varying levels of issue involvement.”

Overall, Lee found that “congruent values between self-motive and perception of CSR initiatives can increase self-referencing, which can result in increased purchase intention.”

What this learning implies, the academic suggested, is that “consumers are able to utilize their own self-concept in processing [CSR] advertisements.”

One of the study’s corresponding takeaways: “Advertisers should pay attention to consumers’ self-perceptions in order to create relevant messages.”

Furthermore, Lee reported, “If people respond that business should help society in an effort to obtain social approval, advertisers might want to employ a social norm strategy.”

Another learning involves taking a holistic approach to this discipline. “Marketers should find ways to appeal to both status consumption motives and consumers’ perceptions of a business’s societal role,” Lee said.

“How Do Self-Values Play a Role in Consumers’ Perception of CSR Advertising” appears as part of a special “What We Know About Corporate Social Responsibility Messaging” section of JAR.

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff