Anitta Toma is a Masters student studying Developmental Economics and International Studies at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada.
After having taken numerous courses on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Anitta will be researching customer perceptions of CSR initiatives in customer purchasing behaviour.
She has chosen to analyse these perceptions within the sports apparel industry, as this market has constantly been under scrutiny from stakeholders for its improper production processes, violations of human rights, labour conditions and continuous deterioration of the environment.
To do this analysis, she isolated CSR initiatives particular to the sports apparel industry (environmentally friendly materials used, measures to eliminate child labour, measures to eliminate forced labour, and community development through donations), while also including economic factors such as quality of product and price of product.
Anitta is using Sawtooth’s Conjoint tool to conduct a Choice Based Conjoint Analysis in order to find the amounts of utility which different attribute levels have for customers when purchasing athletic shoes and their willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the different attributes. She wishes to understand the customer perceptions in Nuremberg, Germany and the differences between gender, age groups, and purchasing behaviour groups.
This thesis set forth to investigate customers’ responses to CSR initiatives in the sporting goods industry. The study included six factors (four CSR initiatives, quality and price) which customers took into consideration when purchasing athletic shoes. In order to measure which factors play the most influence of their selection process, a choice-based conjoint analysis was employed. This method was used in order to reenact every day purchasing decision where customers must tradeoff different features of the product and select the alternative which provides them the highest utility.
The prominent results of this study are that customers respond positively to all CSR initiatives under investigation, while initiatives to eliminate child labour and initiatives to eliminate forced labour are perceived to be the most important for customers in Germany. As well, the results show that these two initiatives are valued more than quality when purchasing athletic shoes. Women in this study were seen to be slightly more responsive to CSR initiatives compared to men. When regarding age, this study has found that individuals over 50 years of age are the group most influenced by CSR. As well, while young adults (between 18 to 25 years old) are also influenced by CSR initiatives, they are the most price sensitive group. Overall, price continues to play the most influential role in customer’s purchasing decisions.
However, the findings suggest that customers are still willing to pay a significant amount of money for CSR initiatives, particularly for initiatives to eliminate child and forced labour.