NEW YORK: The effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications by financial institutions are influenced by management structures as much as the nature of the message, according to a paper published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Writing in the most recent edition of JAR, a team of marketing academics from the University of Lyon studied the CSR impact generated by banks that are structured in two different ways.

The first group featured stock (or investor-owned) businesses, with governance based on a traditional shareholder model; the second involved member-owned businesses (like cooperatives, mutual organisations, or credit unions).

In the United States, the authors – assistant marketing professor Charlotte Lecuyer, as well as marketing professors Sonia Capelli and William Sabadie – observed that member-owned credit unions represent 44% of credit establishments.

And their paper, Corporate Social Responsibility Communication Effects: A Comparison between Investor-Owned Banks and Member-Owned Banks, demonstrates that “attitudes toward advertisements and intentions to purchase were higher for member-owned businesses than for investor-owned businesses”.

Furthermore, the study proposed, “this finding likely stems from consumers’ perception that member-owned businesses are more credible in their communication about CSR activities ... such that they benefit from strong brand capital as a responsible brand, in contrast with investor-owned businesses”.

This insight “confirms previous findings about the socially responsible essence of member-owned models and reinforces the efficacy of CSR communications from member-owned businesses that enhance their credibility”.

Drilling down into everyday marketing planning and practice, the paper continued: “Member-owned businesses should mention their member-owned status in communication.

“In particular, they should highlight their corporate governance in their communications (both CSR and non-CSR) to generate better attitudes” towards their advertising.

Investor-owned businesses, by contrast, should choose a quality-based claim or global CSR initiative, the trio of academics asserted.

“These companies … need to take care with CSR communications, because consumers’ attitudes toward their advertisements and purchase intentions are lower than they are for member-owned banks that communicate the same CSR engagement,” they wrote.

The paper appears as part of a special “What We Know About Corporate Social Responsibility Messaging” section of the Journal of Advertising Research.

Sourced from WARC