With the rise of brand activism, a new trend is emerging where businesses are no longer only interested in selling products, but also taking a stance on social issues. As these efforts become more commonplace, consumer perceptions of CSR research explores the way consumers make sense of CSR initiatives and how this influences the way they behave towards the business and the supported cause. Compared to any other consumer group, millennial consumers have shown prime interest for socially active businesses. Although businesses advocate for various causes, one social cause that has garnered corporate attention is gender, the portrayals of which can shape the discourse around gender equality in a given society. To explore this topic further, a qualitative study was conducted to investigate millennial consumer perceptions of business efforts to redefine stereotypical gender roles via CSR campaigns. With five focus groups conducted with a total of 29 millennial participants, the findings suggest that consumers perceived that gender was a unique, ubiquitous and untarnishable cause compared to other CSR causes. The respondents processed CSR causes differently, identifying some that are riskier to advocate for than others. This perceived level of risk was associated with whether the participants attributed altruistic motives to CSR efforts or were more skeptical of the underlying motives. Gender was also seen as ubiquitous, as it is often approached using the same progressive messages. The findings suggest that a common topic like gender role redefinition may need uncommon approaches, such as relevant celebrity ambassadors and real-life incidents, in order to appear more relevant to millennial consumers. Lastly, the perceived untarnishable nature of gender led respondents to believe that businesses should advocate for the cause, even if it leads to profit, highlighting a renegotiated understanding of a business’ role in society. This has led to various positive external outcomes such as spreading positive electronic WOM and recognizing the brand amongst competitors, but not positive purchasing behavior. The study concludes with various practical and theoretical implications as well as the limitations and directions for future research.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, business, Businesses, consumer perspectives, CSR, gender roles, millennials
Thesis Advisor V. Chaudhri
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/2105/50144
Series Media & Business
N. Ramadan. (2019, June 24). Redefining Gender as Corporate Social Responsibility: Examining Millennial Perspectives. Media & Business. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/50144