Explorative study on how retailers use store environment to communicate CSR from corporate level to store level

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Purpose: In viewing that consumers are important stakeholders in supporting or opposing retailers’ corporate social responsibilities (CSR) activities while existing CSR communication does not address directly to consumers, the paper aims to explore how retailers could use retail store environment to communicate CSR with consumers. Methodology: This study uses qualitative research method, including documentary studies of retailers’ CSR related reports and online critiques regarding retailers’ CSR activities, and in-store observations of what store environmental elements are used and what aspects of CSR activities are communicated at retail stores. Findings: Existing application of store environment on CSR communication is preliminary. The major store environmental elements used are limited to exterior element (exterior display windows), general interior elements (merchandise and lighting), as well as point-of-purchase and decoration elements (point-of-purchase displays). Besides, existing use of store environment mainly covers expressing contents of CSR commitment. CSR impact is left to be only inside CSR reporting while CSR motive and CSR fit are implied in the overall CSR communication. When transforming CSR from corporate level to store level, it is important to demonstrate coherence. Weak coherence among corporate business, CSR objectives at corporate level, and CSR demonstration through store environment may lead to doubts regarding companies’ CSR motive. Still, the paper finds that store environment can be a practical tool to bridge CSR communication with consumers. The paper proposes a conceptual framework to visualise the relationship between corporate level CSR and store level communication and possible components that companies need to consider and work on to improve CSR communication with consumers through store environment. Original/value: The paper is one of the pioneer studies in researching how store environment could be used to communicate CSR with consumers from corporate level to store level.

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