Our first goal therefore is to assess
Our first goal therefore is to assess what kinds of CSR initiatives developed by companies have more impact on consumer satisfaction. It might argue that the different nature of CSR initiatives undertaken by a company will have a specific influence on the CSR consumer response mechanism (Carroll, 1991; Robinson et al., 2012). Some studies have analyzed the differences in the social commitment of the company perceived by consumers depending on the type of CSR initiative used (Dean, 2003; File & Prince, 1998; Polonsky & Speed, 2001). It is reasonable to expect that these differences are also visible in the influence of CSR on consumer satisfaction. Assuming the different scope of CSR initiatives, we propose a first research question that seeks to highlight the different influence of CSR initiatives:
Through CSR, firms try to show a brand personality characterized, to some extent, by altruistic values. Therefore, consumers begin a process of cognitive elaboration albeit in a very simple fashion, with one main goal: to acquire guarantees in relation to the firm\'s good faith in its social commitment, guarantees that the way the firm is presenting itself though its CSR program is consistent with the firm\'s real corporate values (Forehand & Grier, 2003). This cognitive process is based on a series of judgments about the organization\'s credibility, its reputation or congruence between the CRS programs, the firm\'s main activity and its brand positioning which have been pointed out in CSR literature. Furthermore, consumers may be generally satisfied with CSR activity in the following ways: (i) interacting with the brand that carries out CSR initiatives is a way to satisfy consumer interest in participating in the social welfare of the dna methyltransferase (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2004; Bhattacharya, Korschun, & Sen, 2009), unless they perceive opportunism (Bigné et al., 2010) or similar unfair issues; (ii) consumers reward CSR initiatives as a trigger for future initiatives in the same directions, since companies will read customer satisfaction as a path to develop more CSR initiatives or increase current ones. Following the above reasoning, we argue that there are two mechanisms for obtaining consumer satisfaction. The first route is a direct one consisting of a cognitive process triggered by perception of the CSR activity (García de los Salmones, Herrero, & Rodríguez del Bosque, 2005). Essentially this means that consumers must be made aware and convinced of CSR initiatives and sincerity through communication tools (e.g., social reporting). The second is an indirect route through attitudes (He & Li, 2010), where social consumer identification with the company engaging in CSR initiatives creates an identification that must have a direct, positive influence on consumer attitudes toward the brand (Currás, Bigné, & Alvarado, 2009). And following Du et al. (2007) it can be suggested that consumers tend to have more positive perceptions of CSR and “reward” CSR actions in terms of attitude. Reinforcing the indirect route through attitudes, it seems that satisfaction requires a previous acknowledgment effort after which, once consumers are aware of CSR activity, they encode positively. When any stimuli affect consumers, for instance shopping, evaluative processes, or repeated exposure to the CSR activity, consumers trigger an overall brand evaluation process that determines satisfaction, unless a negative disconfirmation process creates dissatisfaction. In sum, our second aim is to assess how customer satisfaction is reinforced if a company adopts a CSR policy and whether this effect can be direct or indirect through attitudes. Therefore we propose a second research question:
Conclusions, implications, limitations and new lines of research According to Study 1, results suggest, firstly, that disaggregating the CSR policy into different initiatives such as employee education and training actions has a positive effect on customer satisfaction, and in turn the CSR practiced by employees favors the development of their social and professional skills. Secondly, environment-related initiatives also have a positive impact on customer satisfaction. This finding is in line with Miles and Covin (2000) who justify the relation between environmental responsibility and economic impact based on the effects of environmental social initiatives on reputation, as the sum of credibility, trust, reliability and responsibility. These conclusions reinforce the results of Bird, Hall, Momente, and Reggiani (2007) who show that consumers and the market value the fact that firms undertake a minimum number of environmentally friendly initiatives and that they are proactive in involving employees in CSR practices. Finally, based on Study 1, CSR communication initiatives also influence consumer satisfaction, but negatively so. This finding might suggest that the origins of the negative effect of corporate communication are based (i) on consumer perception of the CSR initiatives as not brand coherent (communication of CSR initiatives is not consistent with company values), and (ii) on CSR initiatives not reported comprehensively, since there is no integration with the external brand communication strategy. This counterintuitive finding may be explained by previous studies which show that (i) the CSR initiatives communicated, under the form of advertising, negatively affects the CSR – value relation if there is an inconsistency between the firm\'s CSR and the company\'s overall reputation (Servaes & Tamayo, 2013), and (ii) that the negative effect on consumer behavior of excessive CSR communication which is perceived negatively reduces the perceived sincerity of the firm\'s motives for CSR initiatives (Van de Ven, 2008). Indeed, Du et al. (2007) also show a gap between CSR initiatives communicated at corporate level by firms, initiatives effectively carried out and perceptions of genuine brand involvement with CSR. This gap can have a negative impact on consumer satisfaction.