An investigation into the perceived impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives on customers’ purchase intentions in Scottish financial institutions
The purpose of this exploratory study is to investigate whether perceived corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives branded by Scottish financial institutions influence customers’ purchase intentions. For this research a qualitative design methodology was favoured because it allowed the researcher to interpret customers’ opinions and beliefs in regard to CSR. The researcher determined that using face-to-face semi-structured interviews was a more appropriate choice to probe interviewees’ answers and to pick upon some non-verbal clues. The researcher purposefully selected a sample of 10 professionals based in Edinburgh, with a considerable experience in using the Scottish financial services. As expected, all the interviewees confirmed that CSR initiatives do not directly influence their purchase decisions within Scottish financial institutions. Although it was suggested that CSR initiatives are taken into account by the interviewees when evaluating a given company in which they can potentially purchase financial products, it was specified that these are not their top priorities. A consistent number of the interviewees suggested that, within the multidimensional aspect of CSR, the ethical and philanthropic dimensions aimed at doing public good are seen to enhance customers’ perceptions of a brand image and trust. However, only two interviewees showed their scepticism towards CSR initiatives branded by financial institutions. This is because they perceived CSR a hypocritical engagement aimed only at the business profit maximisation. In regard to the limitations emerged, the findings are not generalisable to a wider population, due to the purposive sampling used. Moreover, the researcher found it challenging to maintain fully rigour and objectivity when analysing the results. Nevertheless, the researcher ensured to provide trustworthiness of the results, by probing those questions that resulted to be not clear enough.