Chinese consumer perceptions of socially
Hua Chen and Yusheng Kong
Purpose – The performance of corporate social responsibility has affected consumers’ purchase
actions. This study seeks to commit a questionnaire investigation to ﬁnd out what the Chinese consumer
is thinking and acting about corporate social responsibility.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper commits a questionnaire that contains three factors and
analyzes and reports the results on the Chinese consumer’s attitude and the inﬂuenced purchase on
corporate social responsibility.
Findings – It is found that different status consumers in China have different perceptions on corporate
social responsibility and their purchases are inﬂuenced at a different extent. It is only under speciﬁc
conditions that consumers act in a socially responsible manner.
Research limitations/implications – The present study provides a starting-point for further research
on putting forward items according to different region, scale, industry and products and analyzing the
weight of each item.
Originality/value – Companies may draw up different CSR strategies in connection with different
products or different consumers in order to improve proﬁts.
Keywords Corporate social responsibility, Consumption, Questionnaires, China
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction and relative research
Since Bowen (1953) deﬁned the term corporate social responsibility (CSR) at ﬁrst in a
normative way as ‘‘corporate social responsibility refers to the obligation of businessmen to
pursue those politics, to make those decision, or to follow those lines of actions which are
desirable in terms of the objectives and values of society’’, the discussion on CSR has turned
into a bitter quarrel all over the world. Friedman (1970) declared:
There is one and only one social responsibility of business: to use its resources and engage in
activities designed to increase its proﬁts so long as it stays within the rules of the game.
After that, the view of Milton Friedman became the mainstream about consideration on
corporate social responsibility in the world. But continuous scandals of Wall Street were
disclosed when the twenty-ﬁrst century came. More and more people questioned that view
on CSR. Mackey (2005) suggested:
The enlightened corporation should try to create value for all of its constituencies.
When the war of words between the celebrities is bubbling, what are the most consumers
thinking and what are they doing? The fact is consumers’ expectations for CSR have
increased rapidly. Verschoor (1997) found that ‘‘more than 75 percent of consumers claim
that they would switch brands and retailers to support a worthy cause.’’ Yankelovich also
indicated that ‘‘60 percent of consumers have a much more negative opinion of marketing
and advertising now than a few years ago’’. More interesting, the 2002 Cone Corporate
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY JOURNAL
VOL. 5 NO. 2 2009, pp. 144-151, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1747-1117 DOI 10.1108/17471110910964441
Hua Chen is a lecturer at the
Nanjing University of
Finance and Economics,
Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.
Yusheng Kong is a
professor at Jiangsu
University, Jiangsu, China.