Purpose – The purposes of this study are to demonstrate the conditional effect of functional fit and image fit on consumer brand attitude through the altruistic attributions and identify the criteria for choosing a perfect social cause for managers. Design/methodology/approach – Based on the existing research, a conceptual model is proposed, explained the moderating effect of social cause affinity on the indirect influence of functional fit and image fit on consumer brand attitude via altruistic attributions; these relationships were assessed through a bootstrap procedure. The model was estimated with a sample of 240 subjects. Two newly created, printed corporate social responsibility (CSR) information served as the basic stimulus of this article. Findings – The main conclusions are as follows: first, social cause affinity moderates the effect of functional fit and image fit on altruistic attributions, and the combination of image fit and social cause affinity both on high levels can more easily lead to the emergence of suspicion of company's altruistic motives, contrary to functional fit. Second, contingent on social cause affinity, CSR fit has an indirect relationship with consumer brand attitude mediated by altruistic attribution. More specifically, the indirect effect will be more positive for functional fit with higher levels of social cause affinity, but for image fit with low levels of affinity. Research limitations/implications – The experiment relied on fictitious corporate name. Most of the responders were students from Changchun. This may reduce the generalizability of the results. Practical implications – Besides functional fit and image fit, social cause affinity should be treated as a key criterion to choose social cause. Originality/value – This work analyses and compares the indirect effect of functional fit and image fit on consumer brand attitude through altruistic attributions. The findings give some enlightenment on solutions to contradictions in existing research.
Nankai Business Review International – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 2013
Keywords: Altruistic attributions; Consumer brand attitude; Functional fit; Image fit; Social cause affinity