Corporate social responsibility and
consumers’ perception of price
Daniela Abrantes Ferreira, Marcos Gonc¸alves Avila and Marina Dias de Faria
Purpose – This study intends to investigate whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) would
positively inﬂuence the beneﬁt and the value perceived by the consumer in the company’s offer, the
judgment of fairness in the price differential charged for it, and his/her buying intention, in a context
where the socially responsible ﬁrm practises a price higher than the competition. It also investigates
whether a social action, supported by the ﬁrm, with direct impact on the consumer’s life, would provoke a
higher effect in his/her reactions than a social action with indirect impact.
Design/methodology/approach – The objectives were achieved through experimental methodology,
using scenarios. Prior studies contributions to CSR and consumer behavior domains and the theoretical
framework supporting the model of perceived value generated the study’s proposition, which was
translated in a set of hypotheses.
Findings – The results obtained indicated that consumers perceived greater beneﬁt and value in the
offer of the socially responsible ﬁrm, and were showed to be willing to pay 10 percent more for its
product, judging this price differential as being fair. Moreover, the social action with direct impact on the
consumer’s life inﬂuenced more positively his/her reactions than the social action with indirect impact.
Research limitations/implications – The research instrument opens up the possibility for people to try
to give answers that are in accordance with socially established rules and conventions. Also, a
non-probabilistic convenience sample was adopted. Issues for future studies are: price sensitivity in the
context of CSR; the importance of CSR as a factor of inﬂuence in buying decision compared with other
factors; variables that could exert inﬂuence on the impact of CSR on consumers’ reactions; the inﬂuence
of information sources about CSR in the consumer’s buying decision.
Practical implications – The results of the study indicate that companies have the opportunity to
respond to their consumers’ desires of feeling good about a purchase (incentivating CSR), while
achieving their business goals and, simultaneously, giving their own contribution to society. Also, when
deciding on the social project to invest, ﬁrms should try to know which social actions are more valued by
their consumers, which are those they judge to beneﬁt them more directly.
Originality/value – The results achieved the integration of CSR in the ﬁeld of perception of price
fairness, as one motive that contributes to a price differential be judged as fair. As a part of the study,
a measurement scale was elaborated and tested for the variable perceived beneﬁt.
Keywords Corporate image, Social responsibility, Prices, Consumers
Paper type Research paper
Today’s business environment presents important challenges to the companies. Beyond the
search for conquering higher competitivity and productivity levels, there is a growing
concern with the social and environmental impacts of their actions. In this context, corporate
social responsibility (CSR) is gaining importance and generating a signiﬁcant debate in
academic and entrepreneurial environments (Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004; Borger, 2001;
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY JOURNAL
VOL. 6 NO. 2 2010, pp. 208-221, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1747-1117 DOI 10.1108/17471111011051720
Daniela Abrantes Ferreira
and Marcos Gonc¸alves
Avila are based at the
Federal University of Rio de
Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil. Marina Dias de Faria
is based at Pontifı
de Janeiro, Brazil.