NEW YORK: Ecological causes are among the most common drivers of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, and consumer responses to these efforts are often rooted in hope or fear, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Yu-Kang Lee, Chun-Tuan Chang and Pei-Chi Chen – all from Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University – also stated in their analysis that “environmental problems are perceived as more worrying and more important when they happen at greater distances.

“People tend to be more concerned about increasing temperatures caused by global warming than temperature increases in their own city, for example … When a threat is portrayed and believed to be serious and relevant as a global issue, people become scared.”

As such, a headline finding from What Sells Better in Green Communications: Fear or Hope? It Depends on Whether the Issue is Global or Local involved striking the right balance between the local and the global.

“When the environmental problem is framed as local, rather than global, people perceive it as less serious,” the three scholars reported.

“Because local environmental problems likely are perceived as less significant, hope can be evoked with little corresponding fear.”

The global-meets-fear reaction, they proposed, leads consumers to pay more attention to the message, to a favorable attitude towards the green issue, and to stronger behavioral intentions.

Local/hope, in turn, “is more effective than a fear appeal in terms of received attention, attitude, behavioral intention, and donation amount.”

For advertising practitioners, the academicians asserted, “The study’s findings suggest that marketers and policy-makers keenly need to be aware of the type of emotion they are using in their appeals to the public.

“Advertisers should know how to create suitable scenes for matching the desired emotion with appropriate issue framing.”

What Sells Better in Green Communications: Fear or Hope? It Depends on Whether the Issue is Global or Local 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