Benefit appeals and perceived corporate hypocrisy: implications for the CSR performance of fast fashion brands

Xiaoyong Wei, Sojin Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: When fast fashion brands launch corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, consumers may consider these brands to behave hypocritically as their business model is generally perceived as being inconsistent with sustainable practices. Built on construal level theory (CLT), this study aims to examine how the benefit appeals that are widely used in CSR initiatives affect perceived corporate hypocrisy and the CSR performance of fast fashion brands. Design/methodology/approach: This study designed an online experiment with a 2 (fashion brand: fast fashion vs. unknown) × 2 (benefit appeal: self-benefit vs other-benefit) stimulus, using a virtual label named “Eco Care” for experimental manipulation. A total number of 298 Chinese consumers participated in the experiment and they answered an online survey. Findings: It was found that the brand types (fast fashion vs unknown) and benefit appeals (self-benefit vs other benefit) did not elicit perceived corporate hypocrisy nor did them directly affect perceptions of CSR performance. However, there was a significant interaction effect of them. That is, fast fashion brand’s CSR performance was judged based on how the brand framed its sustainability claims. A fast fashion brand’s CSR label significantly increased hypocrisy perceptions when the label used a self-benefit appeal and the interactive effect of the fast fashion brand and the self-benefit appeal hindered the formation of a green brand image and brand purchase intentions. Originality/value: This study adds a body of knowledge to the literature by examining the relationship between benefit appeals and perceived corporate hypocrisy from the perspective of CLT. The findings can help fast fashion marketers better understand the critical role of benefit appeals by acknowledging that the misuse of communication strategies may result in unfavorable consequences, thus ruining their efforts to improve their brand’s image.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Product and Brand Management
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Benefit appeal
  • Construal level theory (CLT)
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Fast fashion brands
  • Perceived corporate hypocrisy
  • Perceived hypocrisy
  • Promotion strategies

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