Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kelly Page Werder, Ph.D.

Keywords

Strategic communication, Corporate communication, Affect transfer, Starbucks, Experimental research

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to test the general belief that CSR leads to positive attitudes toward a brand and results in an increase in consumers' purchase intentions on the basis of the Affect Transfer Hypothesis (ATH). This study replicates and extends previous research by examining the effect of consumers' persuasion knowledge, based on the Persuasion Knowledge Model (PKM), as one variable that can affect consumers' attitudes toward CSR initiatives and brands. A post-test only experiment was conducted using stimulus materials derived from Starbuck Coffee Company. Four of the stimulus materials containing CSR messages corresponded with four CSR initiative types identified by Kotler and Lee (2005), and one contains no message related CSR. This study indicates supports for the belief of positive relationships among attitude toward CSR, attitude toward brand, and purchase intention, regardless of the type of CSR initiative. In regard to types of CSR initiatives, only attitude toward CSR was influenced by CSR initiatives. Also, the results indicate that corporate philanthropy produced the most positive attitude among the types of CSR. However, when it comes to consumer's persuasion knowledge, the results are slightly different. Although there is not enough evidence to conclude that people use different levels of persuasion knowledge with different types of CSR, persuasion knowledge influences attitude toward CSR and attitude toward brand, and these relationships are negative. In addition, the study found that corporate volunteering appeared to be the most favorable type of CSR initiative when considering with persuasion knowledge. Finally, the study did not find an interaction effect between CSR initiative type and persuasion knowledge.

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