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Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility and Brand Equity: An Investigation of Restaurant Brand Attributes and Customer Traits

Lin, Shijun Michael

There has been raising awareness of social responsibility from stakeholders, especially from customers, in the restaurant industry. The extant research still needs a better understanding of multi-level corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the relationship between CSR and brand equity, which includes perceived quality, brand awareness, brand image, and brand loyalty. This study focused on four distinct types of CSR (food, employment, community, and environment) and included a control scenario with no CSR practices involved. The purposes of this study were: 1) to investigate the impact of CSR on brand equity and whether a particular CSR affects brand equity differently; and 2) to examine whether brand attributes and customer traits (which are brand size, brand segment, brand identity and self-perception on health and environment) affect the relationship between CSR and brand equity. This study distributed scenario- based surveys to United States restaurant patrons and collected 348 usable responses. Factorial Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to examine the purposes of this study. The results indicated that food, employment, community, and environment CSR practices could positively impact customers� perceived quality and brand image. Exclusively, food CSR practices could positively affect customers� brand loyalty. Further, the findings indicated that brand size, brand segment, and brand identity change the amounts or types of CSR effects. This study contributed to the understanding of the relationship between CSR and brand equity in the restaurant industry and raised restaurant owners and managers� attentions on the importance and impact of CSR on their business.