The Strategic Relevance of CSR Implementation for Startups Operating in the Sports Apparel Industry: Investigating the Benefits of CSR Implementation from A Consumer Perspective

Gerður Dóra Aðalsteinsdóttir & Nadía Ýr Emilsdóttir

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has gained increased awareness over the last decade. CSR as a concept refers to going above and beyond what is required and contributing to society, while facilitating long-term success. Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of fulfilling societal expectations to enhance business performance. The concept of CSR has mainly been focused on shareholder value and profit maximization. However, this research aims at exploring CSR from a consumer perspective as there is limited research regarding stakeholder perception of CSR initiatives.
The purpose of this research is to explore the potential impact of CSR implementation. The focus is on the Nordic countries as they are among the frontrunners on the matter of CSR and sustainability. Denmark was the first Nordic country to introduce specific CSR policies and has received attention from other countries in terms of effective co-operation between the government, enterprises and the public. However, Iceland is considered to be falling behind the other Nordic nations in terms of implementation and awareness of CSR, although the topic has recently become more common. Therefore, this research examines these two Nordic countries specifically to reveal whether perception and behavior in terms of CSR implementation differs between Iceland and Denmark.
Given the competitive nature of the sports apparel industry as well as the limited research concerning CSR relevance for startups, this was chosen as the context for this research. Since the 1990s the sports apparel industry has received severe criticism for lack of sustainability practices which can ruin a company’s reputation. Therefore, it was considered relevant to explore whether strategic CSR initiatives truly affect consumer perception.
This research seeks to discover the strategic relevance of CSR implementation from a consumer perspective in order to understand the true motives for startups to undertake such strategic initiatives when seeking potential consumers. For that reason, a conceptual framework was developed to investigate whether CSR initiatives have a direct effect on purchase intention as well as an indirect effect on purchase intention through the variables perceived value and word-of-mouth.
With the aim of obtaining information from a consumer perspective, the data collection followed a quantitative approach. More specifically, a structured online questionnaire which made it possible to statistically analyze the data to reach a conclusion on the matter. The results from this research demonstrated that startups in the sports apparel industry will benefit from implementing CSR initiatives into their core business strategies. CSR was found to have a direct positive effect on both perceived value and word-of-mouth engagement. Indicating an indirect effect on purchase intention, as the aforementioned variables showed a direct effect on purchase intention.
Consequently, the current research contributes to existing literature in this field as well as managerial implications. Given the limited guidance for entrepreneurs in terms of CSR implementation, this research provides information in terms of motives and benefits to aid survival of startups in this particular industry. Moreover, providing beneficial managerial perspective in terms of differentiation and promotion to attract consumers.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final ThesisMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages162
SupervisorsMarija Sarafinovska