Corporate social responsibility and brand value in luxury

Bravo González, Ramón (2017) Corporate social responsibility and brand value in luxury. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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With a combined annual revenue of approximately $250 billion dollars, the luxury industry is highly significant, from a financial and commercial point of view. Within luxury, an area that is becoming increasingly important due to the visibility of this industry is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). While consumers are still not actively demanding CSR in luxury products and services, and there is evidence that CSR is not a key area of interest for the luxury industry; the luxury industry is becoming the target of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders interested in environmental and ethical practices. Thus, it is essential that luxury companies explore CSR implementation, as neglecting to do so, is likely to affect their brands and their brand value.

One of the most important assets that luxury firms have is brand value, an intangible asset influenced by consumer and company-led actions. CSR is a company-led action, which depending on how it is managed, can either increase or decrease brand value. It is important to note that to understand the role of CSR within luxury and how it can influence brand value, it is not possible to study CSR in isolation, as this would not fully reveal its importance in the wider context of brand value overall. Thus, CSR needs to be studied alongside other factors affecting brand value.

Despite the fact that CSR can influence brand value in luxury, CSR is still overlooked by the industry. Due to the increasing relevance of CSR within luxury, this research explores the role of CSR within luxury and how it, together with other factors, contributes to brand value in luxury. An additional consideration is that despite the importance of brand value in luxury, the industry does not normally measure, manage and leverage brand value. As a result, it is also necessary to examine how brand value is perceived within luxury.

To meet these research goals, a mixed methods approach was selected. More specifically, a theoretical framework was built with input from the literature and interviews with key interviewees from the luxury industry. Then, the theoretical framework was tested quantitatively. The quantitative analysis was conducted with a dataset based on consumer panels, and additional secondary data including Bloomberg, CSRHub, Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), Interbrand, and company reports. The results were subject to ‘credibility checks’ with interviewees from the industry. It is noteworthy to highlight that for the statistical analysis, one of the largest datasets with US consumer data was used. Similarly, for the qualitative interviews, representatives from some of the largest luxury companies in the world in terms of brand value, and luxury stakeholders were recruited.

The results from this research suggest that despite the importance of brand value within luxury; brand value is not widely understood by the industry and it is not measured, managed or leveraged. This research also suggests that CSR, company size, having controlled distribution, country of origin, marketing and research and development (R&D)/design, energized differentiation, esteem, and relevance; are critical factors to brand value. Consequently, luxury brands need to manage all these determinants to be able to create and preserve brand value. Nevertheless, while all these determinants are important, their importance can vary by brand; depending on brand size, brand category, target market, and whether the brand is heritage or non-heritage.

With regard to CSR, an outcome from this research is that CSR is becoming an increasingly important contributor to brand value in luxury. Still, the luxury industry is not fully aware that CSR implementation is consistent with key luxury values such as high-quality and service and luxury’s long-term vision; and that stringent CSR policies and practices constitute a potential strategy to anticipate future regulatory and social constraints.

Furthermore, CSR implementation within luxury is generally limited to discrete actions, such as collaboration with the arts, compliance, local production, philanthropy/voluntarism, and use of environmentally friendlier materials. It is crucial that luxury companies incorporate CSR into the DNA of their brands and choose a CSR strategy aligned with their brand vision. Luxury brands may be able to positively change consumer perceptions of CSR and, thus, drive consumer demand. Also, engagement with CSR may result in a competitive advantage to them and in a potential increase in their brand value.

Moreover, the results suggest that brand knowledge is overemphasized by the luxury industry, although it does not appear to be essential for brand value in luxury. Additionally, with respect to brand relevance, this research makes a case to consider brand desirability as a potentially more appropriate determinant of brand value within a luxury context.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Luxury, brand value, corporate social responsibility, CSR, sustainability, energized differentiation, esteem, knowledge, relevance, branding, customer experience, interbrand.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Docherty, Professor Iain and Shaw, Professor Deirdre
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ramon Bravo Gonzalez
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8159
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 13:48
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 08:49

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