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Understand how and why consumers perceive and react to CSR in an Asian country: the case of Vietnam


Author: Le, Thi Hai Yen
Under the direction of: Nathalie Fleck-Dousteyssier
Université du Mans
English Language English text

Keywords: Economy, Vietnam, CSR, Green values, Mindfulness, Voluntary simplicity, Habituation, Connection to nature, Death anxiety, Internal locus of control, Social responsibility, Consumers - Attitude, Product quality, Values (philosophy), Cosmetics - Industry and trade - Food industries.


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Considered as a universal concept, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was actually originated from occidental perspective, making it inadequate to be imposed globally. The CSR perceived by consumers might be divergent in oriental context. Aiming to expand the understandings of consumer perceptions and their responses to CSR in oriental context, we therefore conducted our studies in Vietnam. We first conducted a qualitative study to explore CSR insights of consumers and built a Five Personas typology of consumers. Then, two scenario-based experiments in food sector and cosmetics & skincare sector allowed to test consumer reactions to CSR. The second experiment was integrated in a larger data collection used to form a structural equation model, explaining the psychological mechanisms behind consumer responses. Our findings reveal that CSR has a real impact on consumer evaluations of firm and products, whereas country-of-origin and production process turned out to have no significant impact. Given no cue on quality control, consumers still form their evaluations on product quality, which makes perceived product quality the mediator between the firm engagement in CSR and consumer responses toward the firm (brand attitude, purchase and recommendation intention). We found that consumption habituation and perceived firm motives toward CSR moderate this relationship while CSR skepticism is the mediator. Beneath the surface, some individual constructs can explain the mechanisms. We highlight consumer green values, playing the moderating role between firm green engagement and perceived product quality. Five constructs form green values including mindfulness, voluntary simplicity, internal locus-of-control, connectedness to nature, and death anxiety. We hope to expand the understandings of how consumers perceive and react towards CSR in oriental context that might be more sophisticated than the appearances.