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This research demonstrates that consumers react differently to donations emphasizing a company's effort invested in charitable actions, as opposed to those highlighting its ability to carry out those actions. Our results show that consumers rate the brands that adopt an effort-oriented donation strategy more favorably than those that use an ability-oriented strategy (study 1). Further, this effect is moderated by consumers' perceived psychological distance (made salient by construal level priming or donation proximity). The findings converge to show that congruency between donation framing and primed psychological distance leads to more favorable brand evaluations and greater purchase intentions. Findings of this research contribute to the corporate social responsibility literature and have important marketing research and managerial implications.
6. General discussion
Corporate social responsibility has recently gained its momentum and continues to be regarded as a viable promotional strategy for companies attempting to improve or sustain a favorable image or reputation among consumers (Brown, Dacin, Pratt & Whetten, 2006). Prior CSR research documents a variety of corporate donation strategies (e.g., product versus money, Garretson & Stacy, 2005; local versus distant donation, Grau & Folse, 2007; temporal frame of donation message, Tangari et al., 2010) and their effects on consumer evaluations. Our research contributes to the existing CSR literature by comprehensively examining ability- versus effort-oriented donation strategies as a conceptually novel and managerially relevant moderator to the relationship between CSR actions and consumers' brand evaluations. Our findings show that, an effort-oriented strategy results in more value-driven consumer attributions (altruistic and sincere) and warmer brand perceptions than an ability-oriented strategy. As warmth and value dimensions are often more diagnostic in the CSR domain for brand evaluation, consumers rate the brands that adopt an effort-oriented strategy more favorably than those that use an ability-oriented strategy (study 1).