Business insights-Corporate hypocrisy

The mediating role of corporate hypocrisy between corporate reputation,...  | Download Scientific Diagram

In many aspects, Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR – activities have become an integral part of marketing. Examples abound: Body Shop is synonymous with eco-friendliness and appreciated as a “good” brand because it frowns on animal testing; Starbucks enjoys its liberal image via its social-contribution projects benefiting local communities, culture, the arts, and the environment. The list goes on and on, showing that corporate social contribution is widespread.

On the other hand, fundamental questions ride alongside: What side effects are there or will there be? Will these social contribution activities help raise brand value? Will consumers accept the social contribution of a “bad company”? If an oil giant causes an environmental disaster by oil spill then later trumpets its environmental protection campaigns as social contribution, how would communities and customers respond?

This study measures changes in customers’ perceptions of social contribution activities according to firms’ various situations.

First, based on existing research, I assumed that three factors – i) the corporation’s reputation, ii) the extent of the crisis to be solved, and iii) the corporation’s preemptive efforts for the social contribution – affect communities’ and customers’ perceptions of hypocrisy. Then, that in mind, I examined the influence of each of those three factors via experiment manipulation.

The experiments indicate that consumers tend to perceive the corporate social contribution to be more hypocritical, that is, as an unfaithful-money act, reducing its corporate reputation and increasing the perception of how big a crisis the company is in. More: that hypocrisy perception is found to affect (of course most negatively) communities’ and customers’ attitude’ towards the corporation.

Such results carry a distinct message: corporations should see crystal-clearly that social contribution activities themselves are no guarantee – let me emphasize that: are absolutely zero offset – against a rapid 180-degree reversal in corporate image. In fact, the hypocrisy perception immediately brings into play the possibility (maybe the probability) of a negative   image of the corporation. In crisis mode, consumers do not judge corporate morality by a yardstick of corporate social contribution. They judge it by the circumstances of the crisis and by their perception of the company’s intention. Please note the sophistication here, (which, alas, corporations too often do not realize consumers possess): although, say two corporations each have achieved closely-similar results from their social contribution activities, consumers’ perceptions can and will show a world of difference based on the reputation, conduct and responses of those two corporations.

Such study results are interesting in that they imply we judge corporate behaviors and individual human behaviors by similar moral standards. From the ethical viewpoint we judge behavior based on two criteria, one of which is the act’s outcome. According to utilitarian ethics, this is an attitude that recognizes and praises the action as having developed society if its outcomes are positive regardless of its intention. The other criterion is a categorical ethic that Kant claimed, according to which we should look beyond outcomes, to intention. If an act’s intention is to covet one’s own benefits, it cannot be said to be a genuinely good deed; rather it is condemnable for its greed-based hypocrisy.

As ‘good company’ marketing is recently fashionable, these findings imply what corporations should have in the forefronts of their collective in-house minds when developing their social contribution activities. First: understand the ethical tendency/ies of target consumers. In formal terms: Know Thy Target. Second: when corporate reputation dips below stellar; or the corporate situation is near crisis mode or already has entered it, social contribution activities’ intentions easily can be suspected irrespective of their real motive. To extend those formal terms: Know Thy Target. And Tread Warily.

Warily? Well, yes, and in many ways. For instance, try a sensitive and quiet promotion rather than massive and trumpeted. Identify possible side effects and work to minimize them. Think compensation and think genuine when thinking social contribution. Also do the necessary homework, by bringing to the table some (three or four is a good number) thorough case-studies of reasonably-recent previous corporate-caused major disasters and how responses to those backfired and worsened matters and/or were mitigated and earned respect. Hint: don’t simply read those case-studies. Instead, bring the actual case-studier and writer to the table, the actual-, in-depth-, real-, genuine specialist.


Zero Moment of Truth

  In Week 7, we watched and discussed McDonald’s Canada’s “Our Food Your Questions” program. Prof @qkyujinshim taught us about how messages should be self-serving, transparent radically and be real-time relevant. This reminded me of a similar campaign done by McDonald’s Singapore through brand journalism in making their fast food hipster/restaurant worthy.

This video taps on the zero moment of truth as many viewers have already eaten McDonald’s multiple times and the imaginative possibility of constructing their own or following the ‘hacks’ would impact their decision making process when they are choosing between fast food or are looking for an enjoyable experience.

Here’s a similar campaign to the one by McDonald’s Canada, done in Singapore:

IKEA: Traditional Ad. vs. Online Content

In class, we watched an IKEA ad to show the differences between traditional media and digital media. I felt that it was interesting and inspiring for IKEA to make their “makeover ideas” video with elements of traditional media seen in how it builds the brand image.

IKEA subtly communicates that it is a progressive company through treating the gay and african-american couple as any other family unit and couple. This will be received well by customers who are sensitive to such social issues and build more brand affinity as they will see IKEA as a representative of their beliefs and values. 

Does your perception of Tinder influence others?

Hi friends!

I am writing this blog post to summarise our group’s project. We are doing an academic research, and the research question we are curious to study is how one’s perception of Tinder influences others.

Our research is inspired by our curiosity regarding the fall from grace of Tinder – how it used to be the onling dating app, to it now being often seen as a “hookup app”. In our knowledge, bad news certainly does spread fast, and social media plays a huge role in it.

Having said that, we would like to examine three hypotheses:

  1. Tinder has negative reputation among local university students.
  2. Tinder-users from local universities are influenced by other local university students’ perception of Tinder.
  3. Local university students prefer other dating applications compared to Tinder.

Hypotheses #1 and #2 are designed to answer the research question on how one’s perception of Tinder influences others, while Hypothesis #3 serves as a check on whether our conclusions derived are true.

Based on surveys conducted, we learnt that Tinder is negatively perceived amongst local university students, being associated as a ‘hookup app’. Additionally, from our survey results and focus group interviews, we also found that local university students are particularly concerned about their peer’s perception of Tinder. Further, such concerns have led to a decreased confidence, and use of Tinder amongst local university students. Finally, our research also discusses the limitations of our findings and potential areas for future research.