Using Sustainability Reports as a Method of Cause-Related Marketing for Competitive Advantage

Using Sustainability Reports as a Method of Cause-Related Marketing for Competitive Advantage

John Kenneth Corley (Computer Information Systems, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA), Sandra A. Vannoy (Computer Information Systems, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA) and Joseph A. Cazier (Computer Information Systems, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jsesd.2013040102
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Abstract

This study explores the impact of sustainability reporting on consumer behavior. In this study, the authors measure consumer perception and behavior using the constructs value congruence, trust, loyalty, and purchase intention. To test otheur research model and hypotheses they collected survey data during an online experimental simulation. During the simulation participants were presented with information about a fictional retailer of digital music, movies, and MP3 players. Consumer behavior data were collected from participants before and after presenting information about the sustainability report of the fictitious retailer. The results of the study suggest sustainability reporting has a significant and positive impact on consumer behavior. Therefore, it may prove to be an effective method of cause-related marketing used to attract conscientious consumers.
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Theoretical Background

One of the earliest definitions of sustainability can be traced to a 1987 United Nations conference where sustainability is defined as developments that “meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” (WCED, 1987). For the purposes of this study we closely adhere to the United Nations definition of sustainability, and further define ‘sustainability reporting’ as documentation of an organization’s focus on environmental issues as a central component of normal business operations. These business operations include waste reduction, eliminating pollution, recycling & the use of materials that are easily recycled, utilizing energy efficient operations, the use of green power (solar, wind, hydro, etc.), and supporting non-profit environmental organizations and initiatives.

Based on previously published literature we use two constructs (consumer purchase intentions and consumer loyalty) to measure consumer behavior and two constructs to measure consumer perception (consumer trust and value congruence).

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