In today’s competitive environment, organizations are more concerned about their growth and competitiveness in the marketplace. Therefore, organizations are striving hard to involve corporate social responsibility in order to represent a positive image among the concerned stakeholders. This study seeks to understand the corporate social responsibility policies of the company and its impact on the brand image and reputation of the company. The Shell Company has been selected in order to understand the importance of CSR policy of an oil industry and its impact on the reputation and brand image of the company. Therefore, the data has been collected in the form of interviews from the managers of the Shell Company and society. This research study support that corporate social responsibility has a positive impact on the reputation of the and brand image of the company, help them in having better relationship with its stakeholders including customers and become more flexible in dealing with the uncertainties of the business environment in order to have competitive advantage. The company needs to put sincere efforts order to create awareness about its CSR in order to maintain and improve its reputation in the eye of its customers. The customers on their part must consider corporate social responsibility of the company while making their purchasing decision. The results suggest that the Shell Company’s management must incorporate corporate social responsibility while making marketing strategies because it influences the purchasing decision of the customers. The companies that ignore to incorporate corporate social responsibility in their marketing and communication strategies fail to build and maintain their good reputation in the eye of their customers.

Keywords:  Corporate social responsibility, brand Image, Customers’ perception




Today, in the business environment, a lot of challenges are faced by companies. There are higher concerns about the competitiveness and productivity of a company. Hence, Corporate Social Responsibility is gaining importance day by day. Corporate Social Responsibility is responsibility of an organisation towards citizens and to ensure compliance with the norms, standards, laws and ethics (Popoli, 2011). CSR aims at its major responsibility for the corporate actions. This in turn has positive impact upon the environment and the stakeholders including customers, suppliers, employees, investors, government and local communities. In this era of business world, the concept of serving the shareholders as a top most priority is fading away. Even the need of implementing CSR practices has been increased to a great extent, but companies do not give prime importance to the implementation of CSR practices (Werther and Chandler, 2005).

In almost every industry, corporate social responsibility has become a need for companies because it helps companies in strengthening their brand image. Corporate social responsibility is considered to be a significant tool and used by companies for increasing their repute and value in business world. Despite of having various benefits of corporate social responsibility, companies do not consider it as a part of strategy. Positive association and the brand image can also be influenced by the Corporate Social Responsibility and they could be beneficial for the business’s other aspects as well (Blombäck and Scandelius, 2013). With the emergence of Corporate Social Responsibility there are certain other aspects of the business which got the attention too and they are investigated too those are consumer company fit, loyalty and community. In order to enhance the reputation of the organisation along with enhancing the brand image, the promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility is required from the organisations side. This can also be used to attract the quality employees towards the organisation. Effectively employing CSR would put the organisation far ahead its competitors in reputation as well (Nan and Heo, 2007). CSR is a holistic concept that covers all the aspects of the business and its relationship with the stakeholders especially the customers. This helps in building reputation of the organisation, improve brand image, and the positive customer perception about the brand. It further helps in attraction of loyal employees besides the loyal customers and hence improves internal strength of the organisation too (Du et al, 2010).

The corporations have to face various kinds of concerns which have been increasing on daily basis and in addition to this the involvement of different kinds of stakeholders has also been increased. The organisations also enlist the commitments to these stakeholders in annual reports of Corporate Social Responsibility by identifying that how organisation has fulfilled these responsibilities in last year (Poolthong and Mandhachitara, 2009). Due to these kinds of activities, a statement is led by companies that because of CSR the doubts and intuitions. In addition to this, prior studies of CSR have focussed on the ways through which activities of CSR affect the relationships between companies, investors and its employees.

Nowadays, companies focus primarily on earning higher profits and revenues instead of ensuring ethical standards and social responsible practices. They do not realize the importance of CSR for increasing brand image and reputation. Most of managers in companies think that they do not have time for changing practices of their business and ensuring ethical practices. The firms focus on getting out and selling products to customers. The profit making is considered to be more important for business managers rather that bringing ethical change in attitudes towards doing business (Carroll, 2015).

According to Weber (2008) corporate social responsibility helps to promote the brand knowledge, and reputation among the concerned customers. In this way, CSR impact positively on the brand image. This factor creates a strong relationship and long term trust between an organisation and customers but at the same time, the impacts of CSR measures taken by an organisation are not completely understood by managers of the company. This study is conducted for analysing the impact of CSR activities on brand image and reputation. The research has considered the issue that companies nowadays do not focus on ethical practices and CSR activities. The study is conducted for answering the research question that whether or not companies implement CSR activities or they still focus on increasing profitability.

1.2.Problem Statement

Companies have to face a major criticism regarding CSR that it is taken as an opportunity of increasing their profits. So, some companies might execute CSR for the purpose of getting money and not for dealing with social issues and improve quality of life. In contrast to this, customers perceive that companies while adopting practices of CSR focus on non-financial goals and strive to bring improvements in society (Lai et al, 2010). However, it is argued by most of researchers that corporate social responsibility has become an important factor for the success of companies in a way of improving their brand image. Companies considerably focus on CSR activities while formulating their strategies but they have to face issues while identifying true meaning of CSR activities. The aim of CSR activities is promotion of brand image and enhancing reputation. With the help of CSR companies can influence consumers in a positive way, but it can proved to be helpful for long term when it is implemented with purpose of providing benefits to society. In case if a company participates in CSR activities for getting personal benefits, then this cannot proved to be helpful for increasing brand image and reputation. In order to increase positive image of brand, companies have to focus on CSR activities in a way through which society and customers can get benefits (He and Lai, 2014).

The focused area of this research work is to analyse the relationship between CSR measures and policies of an oil sector company, the Shell UK, and customers’ perception/ brand image. The related data will include the experiences, beliefs and personal experiences of the people regarding the Corporate Social responsibility which also includes employees, aiming at highlighting the relationship between the CSR and customers’ perception and brand image of Shell UK.

1.3.Research Aim

The research aim of the study is, “To analyse the importance of CSR activities in oil companies for influencing brand image of companies”.  

1.4.Research Objectives

In light of the research aim, following are the research objectives:

  • To study the trend of implementing CSR activities in organizations.
  • To assess the importance of CRS activities for companies in today’s competitive business world.
  • To study the impact of CSR activities on brand image of oil companies.

1.5. Hypothesis

  • Companies don't care much about company ethics because customers donot care much about companies’ ethics and CSR, and because bottom line profit is the primary measure, and as long as they hit this, most people are happy.

1.5.Structure of Dissertation

In the chapter one, the discussion in the structural aspects of the research has been made and the identification of research aim and objectives has laid the foundation to proceed further.

In the chapter two, the literature on the selected research area i.e. CSR and its impacts on the customers’ perception and brand image. This section has reviewed the theoretical aspects of the research area as well as the earlier researchers made on this topic to narrow down the research points and to avoid any duplication of work.

This chapter relates to the research methodology to be applied to achieve the research objectives. In this section, research methods are discussed in relevance to the research objectives and selected each research method with due justification. This section has acted as the roadmap for the field activity and helped the researcher to collect and analyse the relevant data about the research areas.

The fourth chapter is dedicated to the data presentation. In this chapter, the data collected as the result of field activity has been presented and analysed in the user friendly manner leading towards the discussion and conclusion in the next chapter.

This is the last chapter of this research activity and in this chapter; discussion in light of the research objectives has been made. In the light of formidable conclusion, the recommendations specific to oil sector and Shell in particular have been made.




2.1 Corporate Social Responsibility

The concept of corporate social responsibility was for the first time originated in 1953 prior to the publication of book of social responsibility named as Responsibilities of Businessmen (Valor, 2005). In accordance with Kotler and Lee (2005), it is a crucial concept for pinning down because there is an overlapping of this with other various concepts such as sustainable business and business ethics (Moon, 2002). In accordance with Mohr et al., (2001) corporate social responsibility is an effort of business for reducing and avoiding harmful impacts and for maximizing its long run and useful effect on society. Corporate social responsibility deals with various social plans of organisation. In the past, the companies do their business for maximizing their profits. However, now due to the change in business environment, the organisations’ main aim has been changed dramatically. Now, companies are considered as an important part of society (Karaibrahimoglu, 2010). It is considered as one of the best tools for gaining competitive advantage (Porter and Kramer, 2002). Due to this fact, organisations are giving much importance to CSR as they are realizing its importance. The initiatives of corporate social responsibility are not just about charity related activities but also to transform these ideas or concepts in to effective strategies of business. The efforts of corporate social responsibility are not only related to making contributions through donation of money but it also deals with incorporation of moral practices into strategies of business which can help consumers in making a brand image. It has been shown by research that brand image is enhanced by socially responsible activities.

Corporate social responsibility is a concept through which organisations link their social and environmental concerns with their operations of business and also make interactions with stakeholders voluntarily (Forbes, 2008). Corporate social responsibility is actually doing the right things in a right way. Naeem and Welford (2009) stated that corporate social responsibility is still a challenging concept. Lai et al., (2010) stated that corporate social responsibility is much broaden than charitable activities and involvement in community, it also includes management system of environment and human resource policy. There is an important role of UN Global Compact in pressurizing firms in willingly embracing corporate social responsibility which might be discerning from norms of public for social performance. In spite of following whatever school of through for corporate social responsibility, organisations are more interested in knowing that how brand equity can be improved by activities of corporate social responsibility. Due to the impact of corporate social responsibility on brand equity, organisations are considering and initiating corporate social responsibility in order to increase their brand equity. The companies which are involved in activities of corporate social responsibility communicate with their stakeholders with the help of media (Moon, 2002). A positive relationship has been found by Li et al., (2011) between corporate social responsibility and satisfaction. 

The roots of corporate social responsibility can be identified back in 1917, when Henry Ford’s great-grandson, William Clay Ford Jr presented the idea that interests of the stakeholders must be considered as well. He claimed that employees and customers along with the shareholders must be satisfied up to its full. In order to make earth peaceful place, the social welfare of employees, customers and rest of the stakeholders should be considered (Meredith 1999).  Past researches show that for business perspective, Bowen’s social responsibility for business is the first step to emphasis on the relationship of corporation and the society (Carroll 1979; Wartick and Cochran 1985).

Figure :1 Pyramid of corporate social responsibility

Source: Carroll, 1991


2.2. Socially Driven Obligation:

 It is considered that business ethics is an initiative for corporate social responsibility and it is important for the long term sustainability and better performance of a corporation Bowen (1953). The activities of corporate social responsibility impact positively on the sales growth, employment levels of a country and investment appraisal decisions as well (Sen et al., 2006).  It is now a generally accepted concept that the firms which have higher corporate social responsibility activities incorporates superior level of sustainable competitive advantage in comparison to the firms which have low proportion of such activities in their routine business operations (Carmeli, 2005; Hunt et al., 1989; Turban and Greening, 1997). Consequently, this adoption of corporate social responsibility as a reason for sustainable advantage in corporation’s activities of growth and development and in return holds a good reputation in the market. Corporate social responsibility is an effort through which an organisation tries to reduce the harmful aspects and bring a positive impact on the society Mohr et al., (2001). In short corporate social responsibility is considered as a response of an organisation or corporation towards the social needs of the society. Corporate social responsibility emphasis on the need that companies must obey the laws, regulation and code of conduct of the society in the country in which they operates Carroll 1979.

2.3. Market Driven Obligation:

Market is a platform that creates a horizontal tie-in between the sales promotion and corporate world (Varadarajan and Menon, 1988). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities play an important role in maximizing the market revenue as well as increasing the level of customer satisfaction (Luo and Bhattacharya, 2006). Thus, corporate social responsibility in turn builds corporate brand dominance in the society through gaining public confidence and integrity (Berens et al., 2005). The researches have shown that there is a relationship between corporate social responsibility and market management for brand. If we think CSR from the perspective of market than only one stakeholder, customers can be satisfied effectively. Researches depicts that gradually managers came to know the broader aspects of stakeholders which incorporates suppliers, government, employees and local communities. Hence, social responsibility of a corporation incorporates all these categories.

2.4. Stakeholder-Relation Driven:

Stakeholder theory is a main area that is essential for the corporate social responsibility to develop, establish and prevails throughout the operations of a corporation (Maignan and Ferrell, 2004). It is followed by two approaches which are instrumental and moral. Instrumentally, it is considered that companies rely upon the stakeholders for the resource extraction and support (Barney, 1991). In this way, managers tend to concentrate on the claims and needs of stakeholders so that they can be satisfied and contribute positively in the development of a corporation as a whole. From the moral perspective, all the persons and groups which are directly or indirectly connected with the development and establishment of an organisation must seek benefit from it. Thus, none of them should have priority over the benefit or interest of another (Donaldson and Preston, 1995). Certain examinations have concluded that from the perspective of relation with stakeholders, communication with all of them must be reviewed skeptically (Basu and Palazzo, 2008). Therefore, there is need to create awareness among all the stakeholders about corporate social responsibility. This awareness must incorporate relationship with corporate financial performance, investment appraisal decisions and loyalty of employees and customers.

2.5. Leadership Driven:

It is considered that leadership style incorporates a corporate social responsibility within its system which involves ethical, spiritual, legal, regulatory and participative strategies (Bass and Steidlmeier, 1999; Waldman and Galvin, 2008). The main idea behind this leadership driven strategy is that there should be some higher authority or leader like scholar or practitioner present to maintain a balance. A leader notice that the aim of company is not confined to profit making but they are also considering their social obligation and benefiting the society as a whole.

Adopting corporate social responsibility gives a competitive edge to organisations as well (Porter & Krame, 2002). The reason for which CSR is gaining importance is that firms nowadays understand the value of CSR. One can state that that the CSR ideas are only for the social good. It is noteworthy to mention here that the CSR activities are not only about the charity and social work but molding that social work into devising an effective business strategy. The efforts to drive corporate social responsibility not only contribute money and give financial support but it also brings in coherence between the moral and societal practices for building up the positive brand image in the minds of consumers.

According to Carroll (1991), four different dimensions are included in framework of CRS i.e. economic, legal, ethical and philanthropic. When there is a need of ethical and philanthropic aspects then there is an expectation of having ethical responsibility and desire of charitable responses. There is an impact of relationship between company and employee or other stakeholders on the relative significance on various aspects of CSR. For example, the greatest concern of employees was economic, while there is a stronger ethical consideration by consumers (Dean, 2003). The best approach to analyse the impact of customer relationship management depends on various expectations of different stakeholders. The economic aspect deals with the obligation of a company to be productive, profitable and maintaining economic wealth. Employees are more concerned with the capability of firm for generating profits because employees have a desire of getting employment on continuous basis (Brunk, 2010). In contrary to this, in some particular conditions, consumers do not give much importance to the economic obligations of a company. The philanthropic obligation which is non-mandatory or voluntary from the side of business even though there is always a presence of societal expectations which must be given by organisation, referred to contribution of a company towards increasing the well-being and benefit of society. Although different researches found a positive impact of philanthropic duty on performance of firm, while Goi and Yong (2009) found that there is no significant impact of philanthropic behaviour on behaviours of consumers. For explaining this inconsistency, two reasons can be explained. First reason is that resources of firm are consumed in philanthropic activities. When a company spends money on charitable projects, then that money cannot be used for improving production facilities, developing management skills or entering in to new markets. The logical consumers show less willingness for sacrificing basic important aspects of goods for the philanthropic activities of a brand. The other reason is that there is an expectation by non-profit companies for having the responsibility of making contributions to the social concerns like health, education and other voluntarism. The firms may integrate with non-profit organisations for giving donations to various social programs as compared to doing it by themselves, in an independent way (Boonpattarakan, 2012). So, consumers give less attention to the activities of philanthropy and obligations of organisations. The legal obligations of firm involve the activities in which there must be confinement of legal requirements. Legal attitude of company may have an impact on functioning and quality of their products and it is also easy for consumers to make opinions and perceptions in this regard.  The ethical obligation of a firm deals with fulfilment of ethical standards and norms, which means being honest and loyal with respect to the relationships with customers. The ethical obligation of in relevant with the crucial issues like safety of environment, human resource management, safety at workplace and good relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders. As compared to employees, it is believed by consumers that a firm should follow the ethical and legal standards. So, ethical and legal duties are two different aspects of social responsibility
(Alexander et al., 2014).

2.6. Brand Image

Brand image is a crucial concept in studies of consumer behaviour since the start of 1950s (Li et al, 2011). The concept of brand image has been proposed by Levy (1959) and it has been suggested that products have societal and emotional aspects and emotional links are developed by consumers with the brands. Brand image is an important part of brand equity. The brand image includes the integration of perceptions of consumers with the brand. So, the brand image is something which has an impact on business from the point of view of consumers. The brand image of a famous brand is a valuable asset because through this, consumers make the identification of products and services in an effective way. The perceptions of consumers regarding features and name of brand are termed as brand image (Keller, 1993). So, brand image is the perception of consumers related to a specific brand and it also depicts an impression of customer.

Nowadays brand is not only a logo but it is taken carefully by companies through huge budgets on marketing, action and societal mind set. When a brand image of a brand is positive then it tells the capability of a company for holding its market position (Wu, 2011). A positive brand image assists in increasing various outcomes like perceptions, loyalty and re-buying intention of customers (Lai et al, 2009). So, companies put much struggle for making positive perceptions of customers for their brand. Corporate social responsibility is an important aspect for making a positive brand image and in making positive attitudes of consumers. It is also used as a key source for gaining competitive advantage. The endorsement of brand image through initiatives of CSR confirms positive comments and then positively affects the brand because in this way the company is crystal clear regarding its external communication and also internal activities.  

2.7. Brand Image and customer perception:

 In market brand image is considered as renowned concept Gardner and Levy (1955). Brand image is actually a specific kind of impression that customer receives from different sources (Herzog, 1963). It includes anything which a customer relates to the brand along with a product perception (Newman, 1957). As per words the concept of brand image emerged and gained importance in the early years of 1950 (Li et al., 2011).

According to Levy (1959) the concept of brand image has the societal and emotional characteristics. The emotional affiliations are created with the brands by the consumers. The essential part of the brand equity is the brand image; brand image is basically the link of all the perceptions in the mind of consumers regarding the product. So if there is anything which has something to do with the brand it is the brand image. Brand image is essential in a way that the customers tend to recognize the products in a better manner. Customers have perception in their minds regarding the brand that is the result of their association with an item (Keller, 1993). Brand is not just the logo of the company but the name, sign and colour. In this way it leaves a strong mark on the minds of customers associated with a brand because of its uniqueness. Positive brand image has the capability of the firm to hold its position in the market (Wu, 2011). There are number of outcomes which the brand image can give, which are mentioned below:

  • Service superiority
  • Customers contentment
  • Repurchasing intention
  • Loyalty

It is analysed that today market efforts are making their contribution towards improving the corporate brand or simply called as brand or product image. Companies have to make efforts for increasing image and reputation of brand. In order to increase corporate image and reputation, the firm has to focus on corporate social responsibility. Customers do not get positive image of a brand due to the face that corporate social responsibility is not keenly viewed by all the organisations. It is not closely watched by companies and it depicts that they are not environmental friendly (Lai et al., 2009). It is revealed that brand image of firms have a vast impact upon the corporate social responsibility and CSR activities as well. When the risk associated with the goods and services for customer perception is at its peak, corporate reputation is considered more important (Maathuis et al., 2004). The corporate reputation is actually a brand image in the eye of customers which are relying upon it for many years.

2.8. Impact of CSR on customer perception/ brand image:

It is generally accepted practice that corporate social responsibility is now an integral of corporate governance (Nath and Mahajan, 2008). Firms and companies are now using the slogan “show me” or in other way “trust me”. Moreover, stakeholders can be engaged in business activity, if there is a strong system present for corporate social accountability and reporting (Zairi, 2000).

There are different ways of brand building which includes marketing of a brand. Marketing of a brand means including those activities which sponsors any event or donating to charity and to any event. When the CSR activities are directed towards brand building, it results in the form of impacting the brand identity. It also influences the brand which includes the objectives, traits and values (Curras et al., 2009).According to Curras et al., (2009) trust on the brand impacts the satisfaction level of the customers as well, and satisfaction of the brand impacts the attractiveness of the brand. There are three things which CSR activities do in particular those are:

  • Influencing feelings
  • Increasing brand attractiveness
  • Enhancing trust of the consumer

CSR influence the stakeholder’s interest in purchasing of a product and strengthens its relationship with an organisation (Sen et al., 2006). When CSR activities are employed, there are multiple relationships of a single individual with the organisation. Single individual can be a customer and employee of the organisation at the same time. The relationship between customer and an organisation can be improved through CSR activities but companies perceive that customers do not consider ethical and social practices as important. Due to this reason, they put efforts for increasing profits. According to Bansel and Roth (2000) the communication with the stakeholders enhances the confidence they have on the organisation. Letting them know about the objectives and goals of the organisation build a strong confidence among the stakeholders. During the implementation of CSR activities, stakeholders play a key role. It is suggested that CSR activities should be stakeholders oriented (Walton and Rawlins, 2010). Branding and the CSR are correlated with each other in number of ways, particularly

  • Via trust
  • Consumer attribution
  • Corporate reputation

Gurhan and Fries (2009) gave models of brand related outcomes and corporate social responsibility model. There are number of characteristics which influence the branding outcomes some of those are:

  • Company characteristics
  • Characteristics of consumers
  • Personal judgment

In branding outcomes, evaluation of the product and company are also present. The perceptions of the consumers are influenced by the product and company itself (Ellen et al. 2000; Yoon et al., 2006).

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) helps the company to promote the knowledge about its brand and enhance reputation among the concerned customers which results in the positive impact of corporate social responsibility on the brand image. This factor ultimately creates a strong relationship and long term commitment between the company and its customers (Ballester and Aleman, 2001). Brand loyalty is based on the consumer’s perception of long term commitment on the basis of quality and features of the product. The respondents were aware of the brand but they define their relationship on the basis of quality of the product that needs to be sustained along with excellent customer services. They give value to the brand image and its reputation and prefer the companies that invest in the social causes related to their vision and mission. A positive brand image helps the company to increase its various outcomes like consumer’s perceptions, loyalty and their re-buying intention (Lai et al, 2009).  Therefore, it has been suggested that company should initiate corporate social responsibility campaigns that are focused and straight forward and direct relate to the company’s brand image.

The corporate social responsibility includes various social and environmental aspects which include fair practices for reducing environmental negatives effects. The companies are penalize or awarded by customers, which obey or defy activities of social responsibility. It has been believed by numerous researchers and director, customers must pertain social responsibility. When customers demand responsible products then the company will also give responsible products. The attitudes of customers are affected by CSR and then their desires are influenced by attitudes of customers (Turker, 2009). It has also been indicated from some of the evidences that the firms support various initiatives of CSR such as philanthropy, marketing based on relationship and plan for the safety of minorities and development of social responsibility from the last many years. Nazir (2010) found a positive relationship between initiatives of CSR and attitudes of consumers towards an organisation. The researcher found that the company which uses child labor affects the attitudes of customers in a negative way.

According to Razak (2013) in today’s competitive business world, companies focus on power of consumer for creating the required shift towards sustainability. There is a place of selecting for buying products through which contribution can be made to local economies and avoiding damaging impacts on environment. Companies face issues while pushing ethical practices and shifting towards sustainable economies.

Although consumer power is referred by corporations and government, consumers do not get important information by companies. In addition to this, customers do not give high priority to activities related to corporate social responsibility. With the help of CSR activities, organisations make efforts for appealing to ethical consumers but also for determining the principle of ethical consumption. The basic concerns of customers are cost and convenience. Customers do not give preference to acting on social aspects (Ali, 2011).  


Saunders (2006) conducted a study and found that the brand through which a good cause is supported is recommended by 52% of consumers. In addition to this, it has been found that 55% of consumers stated that at the time of recession they will purchase from those brands through which good causes are supported even if they would not be the cheapest one. The companies which give special attention to corporate social responsibility get various advantages in the form of sustainability of company, reduction in liabilities and costs of insurance and also brand image is improved (Turker, 2009). Now companies know that there is a strong link of corporate social responsibility with their image and reputation. The perception of consumers regarding company is divided in to two main categories i.e. performance of brand and brand equity. Brand equity is something which is related to perception of consumers about a firm and they also depict the quality of products offered by company and also performance of company (Pokorny, 1995). Ahearne et al., (2010) found a relationship between brand performance and measurable results which are possessed by brands in relation to the financial value of an organisation. In contrast to this, companies perceive that for winning positive perception of consumers in today’s business industry, firms have to concentrate on increasing quality of products. The value of company is affected by quality of products offered by them. Due to high competition in market, the prospects for probability for differentiating with respect to technology and product quality are still high. It has been analysed from various researches that initiatives of corporate social responsibility are considered as an important aspect through which the brand image of a company can be enhanced. So, companies should focus on taking initiatives related to CSR for increasing their brand image and reputation (Ahmad and Jaseem, 2006).

In the previous days, distribution of brand articles to the consumers proven to be useful in the recognition of business. Now corporations recognize that CSR is connected with their brand and reputation identity. Turker (2009) described that loyalty of consumer is connected to the brand equity. In another way, this implies that may be there is some link in between loyalty and CSR through brand equity. CSR efforts by an organisation can increase the brand equity and in turn the entire customer loyalty. Valor (2005) stated the developing brand equity is the most attractive factor of private organisations. Saunders (2006) stated that most of the organisations are distinguished by their brands now days and therefore they are being evaluated depending upon the thinking of the society regarding their performance.

It is observed that when the consumers are well aware of the CSR activities, it helps influence the attitude of the customers too (Pomering and Dolcinar 2009, Ellen at al., 2006, Yoon et al., 2006). Similarly, it has been suggested that studies should be conducted to know the level of consumer’s awareness of the CSR. It is particularly associated with the leadership of a company that to which level they have communicated the message to the consumers in devising an effective strategy of the CSR activities (Maignan, 2001). Corporate social responsibility activities also have a strong impression and influence upon the identity of an organisation (Marin and Ruiz, 2007). It is a reason behind the powerful integrity and attractiveness of a company. When CSR is related to the consumer, it depicts the higher levels of consumers’ awareness. Level of consumer awareness can be raised, if the brand portrays it as a CSR brand (Du et al., 2007). CSR activities have a great impact on customers’ awareness and upon attributes of customers (Bhattacharya and Sen, 2004). These factors are easy to target in comparison to those of purchase behaviour.

Brand management and CSR:

Brand is responsible for CSR, social, ethical and moral activities (Kitchin, 2003). Brand promises stakeholders that they will modify their company operations socially and as per CSR (Kitchin, 2003). This kind of a promising relationship creates a trust factor between brand of companies and all stakeholders. CSR is regarded as a tool of marketing in current times and this factor impact upon the loyalty of customers as well (De Los Salmones et al., 2005). Nan and Heo (2007) are on the view that corporate responsibility management creates a positive image of a company. Corporate responsibility management (CRM) activities develop a positive feedback of consumers overall (Godfrey and Hatch, 2006). Along with the awareness of consumers, reputation of a firm is also influenced by corporate social responsibility activities (Yoon et al., 2006, Ellen et al., 2006). Financial performance is enhanced through corporate social responsibility because of strengthening of stakeholder relationship (Beurden and Gossling, 2008). This enhancement is achieved through two factors; cost and revenue. If a relationship between two parties like organisation and customers is strong enough, cost is enhanced. If an organisation have a strong relationship with its shareholders, new customers are attracted towards it and investors will be willing to make frequent investment in such corporation (Barnett, 2008). On the basis of conceptual model, social responsibility is considered in the light of brand loyalty, image and performance as well as corporate reputation as shown in figure 2. 

Figure :2 conceptual model

Source: (chi-shiunlai et al, 2010)

Today organisations have engaged themselves and their plenty of resources in developing a better image of their brand. They are also engaged in strengthening their ties with the stakeholders, financers, clients and employees. Financial performance is considered as a standard for measuring the higher position and value of the organisation (Ali, 2011). Today consumers are well aware of the importance and need of corporate social responsibility. They are also aware of the fact that value of firm rests heavily upon the way corporate social responsibility has been dealt (Raman et al., 2012). Studies shows that consumers are more interested in buying products from those companies which implement and value the social welfare (Forte and Lamont, 1998). There are many diverse angles of CSR. CSR guarantees the safe working environment, fairness among employees, safety of local residents and high quality products, which is ultimately beneficial for the organisations (Razak, 2013).


In today’s competitive business world, it has become important for organizations to focus on corporate social responsibility. It is a tool that is utilized by companies to carry out various activities in order to fund and resolve various social problems. With the help of CSR activities, companies can fulfill their commitment towards society. When companies implement CSR activities, then their capability of generating and assigning resources effectively is increased. Through proper implementation of activities related to corporate social responsibility, competitive advantage can be gained by companies. Corporate social responsibility is considered to be a significant aspect to build positive image of brand and to create positive attitudes of customers. In order to get competitiveness in market, companies are in need of thinking considerably about the society for improving their brand image in minds of customers. Customers evaluate the performance of companies on the basis of their involvement in social activities. The identity and image of companies are strongly affected by activities of corporate social responsibility. This research is aimed at finding that how companies can improve their brand image and make positive image in minds of customers through CSR activities. The research is specifically focused on oil industry. In previous studies, the influence of CSR activities on brand image are analyzed but there is very less research done on this issue and particularly in oil sector. So, this research is conducted for analyzing the impact of CSR activities on brand image of oil companies.





3.0. Introduction

This chapter deals with description about research design used in this study that includes underpinnings of philosophy and methodology. This chapter also includes details related to site of research, selection of participants, management and analysis of data. Moreover, the chapter is about considerations regarding standards that ensure validity and reliability of results. In the end, ethical standards are mentioned that are fulfilled while conducting the research.

3.1. Research Method

The research design is considered to be a guide to the whole process of research (Avramidis and Smith, 1999). There are two types of research methods that can be used to conduct the research. These two methods are quantitative method and qualitative method. In current study, qualitative research method has been adopted for investigating benefits. Qualitative method is used in this study as it helps in finding descriptions about research issue and exploring issues through details analysis (Welch et al, 2011; Bryman and Bell, 2003). This research method put emphasize on exploring underpinned reasons, problems and descriptions for providing detailed accounts (Bryman, 2004). However, with the help of qualitative research approach, it is not possible to build statistically grounded links that highlight links between two or more social processes that is possible to do in quantitative researches. The aim of this research has alignment with above definitions of qualitative research method. As, research is aimed at exploring the use of activities related to corporate social responsibility for gaining positive brand image. Moreover, the aim of present study is developing an understanding of how and not just providing a detailed explanation of reasons of changes that occurred due to CSR in brand image of organizations. So, in this case it is more appropriate to use qualitative research approach instead of quantitative research approach as mentioned by Lincoln and Guba (1985).

3.2. Research Philosophy

There is a comprehensive system of research philosophy and it is represented with respect to epistemology and ontology (Richards, 2003). Research philosophy helps in defining the nature of research enquiry (Blanch et al, 2006). Positivistic research approach is considered to be a medium of contention for long time. Due to this law of generalizations is advocated (Eisenhardt, 1989). It helps in universally explain the reality and viewpoints of individuals. However, in the start of 1960s, a change was depicted and significance of realism and interpretivism was increased (Bryman, 2004). In case of realism philosophy, there is more subjectivity in research and attempts are made for providing details by linking causes with limited context, depending on contingent generalizations (Ragin, 2000). The focus of interpretivism is to understand the behaviour of individuals in contrast to provision of detail of it like we do in positivism. Interpretivism helps in understanding behaviour of different people and institutions as there is difference in behaviour of each individual and entity. This philosophy is best suitable for this research as it is aimed at identifying various shades of managers and customers regarding CSR in organizations for enhancing brand image. Similar to realism, interpretivism is also subjective in nature but the main focus of this philosophy is to understand experiences of actors with the help of details in specific situations (Welch et al, 2011).

The context is important in case of this philosophy, but there is a risk of exposing the identity of respondents or companies as detailed information is provided in this research philosophy. For reducing this risk, researcher assigned different names to respondents like for managers M1, M2, M3….. are used and for customers A1, A2, A3 are used. Similarly, no jargon or particular terminology is used in research for ensuring anonymity. The respondents were used in this research for gaining an insight about their personal experiences that helped the researcher in understanding and exploring current research issue. As, the current study is aimed at understanding that how CSR can have an impact on brand image, so, it is important in this study to incorporate experiences and interpretations of actors (managers and customers). In case of interpretation, there is a need of interpretive sense making for collection of data.

3.3. Research Strategy

Research strategies play a significant role in any kind of research. In current study, case study strategy has been used by researcher for intensively exploring the situation (Bryman and Bell, 2003). This kind of research strategy has a complement with qualitative study. There is an increase use of this strategy in organizational researches because of increased confidence in exactness (Hartley, 2004). In current study, this method was used as there is specific appropriateness of case studies for addressing issues in which detailed information is required for answering questions like why and how (Yin, 1994). They are considered to be suitable in case when there is an involvement of real life situations in process under study. There is better alignment of this strategy with exploratory researches that are usually conducted for getting clarifications about research issue and when there in unclear scope of process. In current study, Shell Company is taken as a case study, for exploring that how oil companies are using CSR for increasing brand image.

In accordance with Hartley (2004), there is more value and appropriateness of case study method to explore upcoming and latest realities in organizations that cannot be examined with the help of survey. For example, current study has explored the influence of CSR on brand image. It was difficult to explore importance of CSR and brand image for customers and companies through survey technique.

3.4. Sampling Plan

In order to conduct research in an effective and appropriate way, there is a need of identifying focused population and sample must be selected from that population at the time of designing. In case of qualitative research method, interviews are conducted for collection of data. In case of interviews, there is no particular figure identified by researchers that has deemed sufficiency. Warren proposed figure of 20-30 interviewees and Gerson and Horowitz suggested that it is insufficient to conduct less than 60 interviews (Welch et al, 2011). It is not possible to draw valid conclusions from too few interviews and if interviews are many in number then they cannot be analysed in an effective way. In current study, 30 was chosen as a figure of sample size that includes  5 managers from Shell Company and 25 people living in nearby society who are actually customers of Shell company.

3.5. Sampling Design

In accordance with Hartley (2004) only dependency on sample size is not considered to be a reliable source. It is also significant to focus on method of selecting that sample for ensuing high reliability and representing the whole population. There must be high level of lucidity in choosing criteria for selecting and non-selecting elements in population (Oliver, 1992). However, a researcher has to face various hindrances while selecting a sample from whole population. In current study, convenient sampling is used for selecting sample from population. Due to some budget and time constraints, researcher chose those managers who can be approached easily and who have some knowledge about CSR. Similarly, people from society who are actually customers of Shell Company are also selected on the basis of convenient sampling method. In case of having time and financial constraints, it is best to use convenient sampling in research.

3.6. The interview process -- selecting and accessing participants

In current study, in-depth interviews were conducted with managers and people living in society who are actually customers of Shell Company. This method has an alignment with our research philosophy as it helps to gather rich data that result in wider descriptions. Whipp (1998) stated that interview method has high level of flexibility and it helps to maintain a complete focus on problems considered significant by interviewees. Bryman and Bell (2003) stated that interviewees must be those individuals from whom maximum information related to research issue can be obtained. In accordance with King (2004) semistructured interviews help in gathering more data as interviewees share their point of views, feelings and perception. This was crucial in case of present research as this study has an aim of providing evidence regarding expectations of customers and managers for corporate social responsibility and its impact on brand image. In qualitative research method, there is an involvement of four stages; formulation of research questions, creation of interview guide, recruitment of participants and interview conduction. 

3.7. Interview Guide

Before conducting pilot interviews, researcher prepared an interview guide- one for managers of Shell Company and other for customers. The themes and sub-themes were identified after analysis of literature review for development of questions. The interview guide was initiated with broader questions relevant to research topic for making interviewees comfortable to give particular information.

3.8. Interview conduction

Before conducting the interview, respondents were provided with necessary information about brief of research, its aim, goals, scope and focus. Moreover, for taking willingness from interviewees, they were asked to sign their approval for taking part in research. They were also ensured about confidentiality of information gathered from them. Different locations were chosen to conduct interviews from customers and from managers interviews were conducted within the workplace of Shell Company. There was pre-arrangement of interviews with consent of participants as well as managers. Diversity was also ensured at the time of data collection. From managers, interviews were conducted in different rooms while some were conducted at work stations of managers. The society nearer to Shell Company was approached to get an access over people to conduct interviews. The time duration of interviews from managers was 45-60 minutes and for customers the duration was 15-20 minutes from each interviewee. The recording of interviews was also done with permission of interviewees.

3.9. Data Analysis

After conduction of interviews, transcribing of recordings was done by researcher. Since, the goal of study was to understand about how corporate social responsibility can result in enhancement of brand image, so researcher focused primarily on content rather than other features. According to Halcomb and Davidson (2006), various methods to transcribe exist but the selected one must have proper alignment with aims of research. The next stage was to code the data for which researcher used open-coding technique as mentioned by Strauss and Corbin (1998) in which a line-by-line scrutiny was followed. This helped the researcher for systemizing labelling of information. Subsequently, arrangement of data was done in accordance with priority.

In order to analyse data collected through qualitative research method, no software was used because the nature of research was interpretative and data loss because of forced categories was avoided. The researcher is considered to be a process of research in case of interpretivist philosophy. In addition to this, qualitative software programs are helpful to organize and code data, but it cannot be taken as a substitute to interpret data (Suddaby, 2006).

3.10. Ethical Considerations

For preparing participants and for ensuring their level of comfort with researcher, they are provided with an information sheet and a form of consent preapproved by university. The researcher has explained the requirement to record interviews to participations and took full permission from them in order to ensure fulfilment of ethical considerations. The respondents were also described about anonymity of information and proper reporting of codes is done in dissertation. After proper agreement and consent of interviewees, researcher started conducting interviews from them.


4.0. Introduction

This chapter presents analysis of data collected from customers and managers of Shell Company. In this chapter, first of all introduction and history of Shell Company is given. After this, the analysis of responses of managers regarding implementation of CSR activities and its impact on brand image is done. The next section of this chapter is about analysis of customers’ responses regarding CSR implementation and its impact on brand image.

The overall purpose of the study was to investigate a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy of a shell company in relation with the brand promotion and customers’ perception of the brand image. The study also elaborates the specific target measures of the company’s CSR policy towards promotion of customers’ perception of company’s’ brand and image, and further explains the impact of corporate social responsibility policy on customers’ perception of purchasing the product based on its brand and image. Therefore, in order to answer these questions, interviews were conducted from both the managers and customers separately because the character of the research required accessing the expert to explore the topic which cannot be done through questionnaire but to further improve the understanding of the research topic. The Shell Company is the second largest oil company and world’s largest enterprise[1]. The company has a complex network of more than thousands companies and joint ventures operating in more than hundred countries.  The company was created after an agreement between the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and Shell transport and traded company in 1907 on the basis of 60:40 alliances. Both companies own the share of the Shell Company and appoint board of directors and share the profits among them in the form of dividends. Individual operating companies has been established under a decentralized organizational structure in order to increase a strong national identities. In order to meet the objectives of the current study, interviews were conducted with the management of the company.

Shell is a well-recognized organization linked with Gas and Oil. This analysis is stressing on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Shell along with equity of its brand with individuals over factors like labour, local community and atmosphere. The initiatives of Corporate Social Responsibility of Gas and Oil sectors have been questioned crucially always and therefore they have been discussed a lot for a longer period for those who have made an effort to represent that their company is sociably responsible, however they are not actually.

According to Manager M1, it has been stated that “the company Shell comes in the biggest CSR speaker organizations worldwide who are actors in fact and they are continuing acting while involving the expressions of CSR. It has been shown by the case studies of the Shell company that the behaviour of company towards stakeholders whose very significant factors are labourers, which has been taken perceptibly incorrect”.

Another manager M3 stated that “various kinds of acts are being done by them which were not on the stakeholders’ side. This was being aimed by large number of activists of society and among them the most important was Ogoni. The factors responsible for the Shell being aimed were violation of human rights, environmental responsibility and ethnic discrimination”. They have been blamed opposed to the fact they never were able to put any kind of positive effect on the society/community of Ogoni, though being working there for the past four decades. Depending upon the behaviour of company in the society of Ogoni, the image of Shell has been mottled a lot which has resulted in making general public to attack over the company in United Kingdom (Kotler and Lee, 2005).

According to Lai et al (2009) these kinds of all acts represent the company’s social irresponsibility in oppose to stakeholders which damaged the profile of company seriously with regard to brand equity. Now in such case the most important thing which is required to be evaluated is that the image and effect of Shell internationally might not be harmed, however, it is to be noted that the general society got harm in a huge way.

Manager M2 stated that “This is the reason why the company face serious complications and which afterwards made the thinking of people negative for the company and which in turn led to degrade the CSR image of Shell. A plan for their defence has been made by the company saying that the definition of stakeholder is not suitable for such societies therefore they would not consider their loss or profit”.

Moreover, this summon has been purified also as those who shall be impacted by actions of the company would be among the stakeholders. The company has always been defended itself in oppose to such problems by some excuses. Therefore, they both finish up in obvious opponents which probably would not have happened if the company were able to respond efficiently. The downfall of Brent Spar was emphasized by media and had to face a lot of criticism by Greenpeace as well, as it was supposed to be an organized incident (Li et al, 2004).            

In addition to managers of Shell Company, customers were also interviewed to get their view points about importance of CSR activities. These were individual customers of Shell Company who use to buy fuel from Shell. When people living in society who were actually customers were asked about company’s practices towards CSR then one of customers A1 stated that “The Company was involved in using some materials which were hazardous for health. Despite of focusing on the continued support for the society, company distributed temporary presents which provided one-time assistance to the society and was not able to put a prolonged impact which could make any difference to its growth”.

It has been found by Marin and Ruiz (2007) various companies within the sector of oil and gas have produced techniques to provide shelter to their general societies and their progress. Nevertheless, Shell has been answering the criticism they have faced by Non-Governmental Organizations and their competitors quite well, but when they have been asked for the most serious issue of global warming which their industry is causing damage to, nothing can defend the mistakes done by them. Shell says that they are making a lot of efforts for the improvement of their image as Corporate Social Responsibility, and to continue to provide happiness to labour force with the policies of company, but it is observed by large number of researchers that a clear difference is there between what shell thinks and what it actually does. It is believed by the company that a lot of help would be provided by social investments in keeping their social image.

One of customers A3 said that “Shell might not have realized regarding the social responsibility of the company, rather it is considered as a tool by them to be utilized for making brand image in people’s mind and for marketing, which is certainly incorrect”.

In the present century, marketers know the fact quite well that the activities of CSR are seen closely not merely by those organizations which are environment friendly but also by many stakeholders and consumers. It is founded by Moon (2002) in their research that brand image of the organization has a lot of influence on CSR ranking of the organization and also its CSR activities. Customers do not prefer to buy services and products from such firms which are not able to give responsible ethical or social activities. Managers of Shell Company understand and agree to the fact that CSR activities assist organizations to improve the reputation and image of the organization. This finding of current study is consistent with research done by Mohr and Webb (2005) that CSR activities conducted by organizations encourage their “product brand” and “market position”.

The activities of CSR not just enhance association and image of service related features but it impacts the non-service related features such as image of user, brand personality etc. The one discovery here is of great significance which is that philanthropic responsibilities have got maximum association with supportive image of brand which depicts that if a firm is treated in philanthropic responsibilities, it has resulted in great impact on making supportive image of brand. With reference to the outcomes of the research, every dimension of CSR have got almost equal significance. Hence, if a firm wishes to make its image as well-known CSR, it has to perform well in order to achieve high scores in all the aspects of CSR. 


The respondents were asked to explain their own understanding about the corporate social responsibility that how they perceive social responsibility of the company now a day and to give opinions on corporate social responsibility strategies. Most of customers stated that corporate social responsibility influence the interest of its stakeholder especially customers in purchasing of a product and strengthens its relationship with an organization. Therefore, the respondents perceive corporate social responsibility in relation to its brand as an important factor for purchasing the products.

This is consistent with findings of Peloza and Shang (2011) consumer prefers those companies that are involved in adopting and implementation of green corporate social responsibility. Therefore, companies are required to first run their business in a way that is environment friendly after considering their stakeholders and community.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) helps the company to promote the knowledge about its brand and enhance reputation among the concerned customers which results in the positive impact of corporate social responsibility on the brand image. This factor ultimately creates a strong relationship and long term commitment between the company and its customers (Ballester and Aleman, 2001). Brand loyalty is based on the consumer’s perception of long term commitment on the basis of quality and features of the product. The respondents were aware of the brand but they define their relationship on the basis of quality of the product that needs to be sustained along with excellent customer services. They give value to the brand image and its reputation and prefer the companies that invest in the social causes related to their vision and mission. A positive brand image helps the company to increase its various outcomes like consumer’s perceptions, loyalty and their re-buying intention (Lai et al, 2009).  Therefore, it has been suggested that company should initiate corporate social responsibility campaigns that are focused and straight forward and direct relate to the company’s brand image.


According to Manager M5 “Corporate social responsibility is very important to attract the potential customers. Due to advancement in technology and globalization customers are much aware of brands and media counter flow has a great impact upon the minds of the customer. It creates a positive impact of brand and increases brand loyalty and equity”. There is opposite to the findings and research conducted by Khan et al (2013) who found that customers usually switch their brand due to the low quality of products offered by companies. Customers do not get attracted to companies that have taken initiatives related to corporate social responsibility and followed ethical practices. They focus primarily on products and services offered by companies.

The strength of the brand can be increased by incorporating the social responsibility in the company. That will not only signify the good cause but it will attract the potential customers and more customers will give importance as social responsibility is required from everyone in the society. The corporate social responsibility is increasing the brand equity or loyalty among the customers. It is the best strategy among other marketing strategy. The advertisement and market cap is declining due to the rise in the corporate social responsibility.

The global company’s contribution in the society is increasing due to customers excepting this culture. In previous research it is showed that 79% customer adopted corporate social responsibility and switched their brand due to this factor. This is a good cause for the society. A good promotional activity leads towards the positive feelings and makes the customer mind to rethink. It is helpful to switch the brand of the customers. The target market is kept in mind by the company to create a social responsibility. The brand attractiveness and promotional activities in the competitive market plays a vital role in the brand advancement and attractiveness among the customers. When any affiliation is not attached to the brand then customers will not be attracted towards the brand and will have a negative thought in mind related to the brand. The affiliation can be related to the greenery, environmental protection or the disaster relief. The brand loyalty and quality will be enhanced due to the perfect social cause selected and market that well in relation with others.

Manager M4 stated that ‘Shell is company growing day by day have adopted or introduced a new method of operation and technologies are minimized to have a better impact upon the brand and decrease environmental impacts. The climatic changes problem is overlooked by the Shell like CO2 emission is very bad for the environment. The overall industry and corporate sector has to work together to increase the impact of social responsibility among the customers”.

According to Sen et al (2006) Government help is also required in case of implementation of CSR activities. Sustainable energy future can only be secured as many countries are using CO2 to the coal power plant. Different alternative procedures should be adopted so that environment should be saved and social responsibility is on every person to save the environment. The usage of advance technologies and emission of pollution is only due to this reason it can be minimized. Shell is increasing its relationship with the conversation of natural IUNC. Shell is the biggest bio fuel distributor which is a positive point of Shell which has a great impact over world markets. The sustainable production of bio fuels is increasing by having link with the other NGO’s to make the betterment in the society which will be beneficial in long run.

On the question of which corporate social responsibility activity influence the purchasing decision of the customers, it was revealed that;

“We think about the environment friendly products but we prefer the product because of its price and quality even if it’s not environment friendly” (Respondent A5, A7 and A10)

 The customers prefer their own self-interest than community as a whole (D’Astous and Legendre, 2009).  The few respondents were well aware of the brand name of the company and its road safety programs for the drivers. The respondents were also aware of the terms ‘eco’ and ‘green’ marketing as it has been publicized often in the products that are environment friendly. In spite of knowing this term, this doesn’t influence the purchasing decision of the customers. According to Raman et al., (2012) that price and quality aspects only are not sufficient to influence the purchasing decision of the consumer, but also some intangible aspect such as reputation of firm, loyalty of customers, trust and association with brand, are significant aspect to influence the purchasing decision.  However, environment should be the first priority of the customers to buy products which have direct and harmful impact on the earth’s environment. The information related to positive corporate social responsibility of the company created a confidence in its consumers. Therefore, Lim, (2011) argued that customers give importance to company’s corporate social responsibility activities before buying its products. 

According to Bansel and Roth, (2000) communication with stakeholders is important to build their confidence in the company. Information is the most important factor to know about the position of the corporate social responsibility of the company whether it is accordance with the ethics or not. This is due to the fact that we often hear problems associated with companies at global level but we do not care or even forget about it during its purchase. Like, in case of Shell oil spills and shut down in Nigeria harm its reputation but still people in the cities do not care of what’s happening around the world. Either they have no or very little knowledge about the company’s corporate social responsibility activities. Therefore, consumers overlook the whole scenario and purchase their products on routine basis. But on the other hand, very few people were possessive about the corporate social responsibility activities of the companies and care about the causes for which the company is investing for the wellbeing of the society and environment.

According to Bowen (1953) business ethics is an initiative for corporate social responsibility and it is important for the long term sustainability and better performance of a corporation, therefore, it can be concluded that ethics are important to drive corporate social responsibility in the company. The consumer perception of brand image creates a positive response of being socially driven company. Therefore, it’s likely to increase the likelihood of the corporate social responsibility to be incorporated into the purchasing decision of the customers. But unfortunately, this has never been marked with the company’s logo that it is socially driven or not but if the brand is well known, customers gets a slightest idea from net and friends of its reputation in the business market. If company treats everyone fairly and offer quality product then it must have good reputation. Brand is not just a logo but a mindset of a company and when a brand image of the company is positive then it highlights the reputation and capability of the company to position itself in the market (Wu, 2011).

According to customer A10 “the company needs to create a public awareness and interest of the notion corporate social responsibility as most of the customers either don’t know or have no interest on company’s corporate social responsibility policy while purchasing the products. Therefore, it would be better to use social media, organize public events and seminars where experts with interesting talkative capabilities talk about the corporate social responsibility of the company to educate people. This would definitely increase their awareness and concentration to consider corporate social responsibility in their purchasing decision”.

Furthermore, consumer perception of brand image of highly social driven companies seems quite positive but this does not transformed its perception of purchasing the product. This intricacy obstructs the positive attitude of the customer to incorporate corporate social responsibility in their purchasing decision. Therefore, management of the company requires incorporating its corporate social responsibility activities into its marketing strategy in a way that it must consider the factors that can influence the consumer perception of the brand image. Previous studies reveal that companies that ignore the concept of corporate social responsibility have to face a failure about its reputation among its own customers (Lichtenstein et al. 2004).

The corporate social responsibility is about the creation of good reputation of the company that it is honest and reliable but its fruits can only be seen when the company has good relationship with other corporations and customers. Therefore, Shell Company must consider the case of LEGO who had showed no interest in renewing its contract with the company. The corporate social responsibility helps the company to become more flexible not just in dealing with the global challenges of climate change or poverty but also towards the bad publicity about the company. The basic purpose of creating positive consumer perception of brand image is to reduce the negative thoughts circulating about the company. For example any crises or event happened resulting in damaging the reputation of the company. This is the reason that company’s must invest in social responsible activities to build a reservoir of goodwill and effectively communicate it with its customers.  On the other hand, it’s on the part of the customers that they also required to consider the company’s corporate social responsibility while purchasing products. However, the research support that corporate social responsibility has a positive impact on the reputation of the company, help them in having better relationship with its stakeholders and become more flexible in dealing with the uncertainties of the business environment. But still, Shell Company needs to make a sincere effort to create awareness about its activities among its stakeholders including customers to enjoy the fruits of good reputation.





The objective of the current study was to investigate the importance of corporate social responsibility on the brand image and reputation of the company. Secondly, is to investigate the impact of CSR on the customer’s perception about the brand. By conducting this research work, we have reached our purpose to have a deeper understanding of the importance of corporate social responsibility. Keeping in mind all this, now we can answer the research questions of the study. There are many ways through which companies can engage themselves in corporate social responsibility. From the study, it has been analysed that companies engaged in corporate social responsibility in order to improve their reputation. Companies can gain advantage through their corporate social responsibility policies which help them to keep their market position and have competitive advantage in the dynamic business environment. There has been increased in corporate social responsibility engagement in these years which highlights that companies are now using corporate social responsibility as a tool to build their reputation especially in relation to their stakeholders. The promotion of corporate social responsibility is required from the organizations side to enhance their reputation along with enhancing the brand image. This helps to attract the talented workforce towards the organization (Albinger and Freeman 2000). It has been analysed that most of companies nowadays do not focus on initiating activities of CSR. Companies are of the view that customers only prefer quality and price of products and services offered to them. It has been revealed from case study analysis of Shell that even in case of crisis and some negative events towards environment and society, people did not stop buying fuel from Shell.

In contrast to this, Raman et al., (2012) stated that that only price and quality aspects are not sufficient to influence customers on procedure of their purchasing decision, then, but there is a need of some intangible aspect such as reputation of firm, trust and loyalty of customers.

The corporate social responsibility is a key issue in this global business world which is needed to be considered by all kinds of firms whether its product or service oriented company. Previous studies reveal that all kinds of organizations have started to take interest in the corporate social responsibility (Valor, 2005). Managers of the company believe that in order to build a good reputation of the company they need to engage in the right program whether they are corporate philanthropy, green marketing and cause-related marketing. This helps the company in the improvement of their brand image which also results in their better performance. The need of tangible aspect is necessary to influence the purchasing decision of the consumers.

In case of alignment of public and private profits, the notion of corporate social responsibility is not considered to be relevant. Organisations that are involved in doing everything for boosting profits will end up by increasing social welfare of people. In case when there is an opposition of profits and social welfare, initiatives towards CSR are considered to be ineffective. The reason is that volunteer acts are done by executives for public interest and in opposite to interests of shareholders. Companies are providing benefits to society while in actual acting in their own interests. The ways of operating businesses are changing in order to maximize profits not in a way of showing commitment towards society. All of companies these days are not taking advantage from such opportunities. The owners of these companies focus on interests of company rather than on long term financial interests of company (Asaad, 2010).

The oil and gas companies have a business that is socially, technically and politically complex in nature. The oil and gas companies work on the basis of their constant demand from all over the world. The better and refined corporate social responsibility programs of the company represent their response to the changing business environment. In order to seek the understanding of these objective, Shell company has been selected which provides a comprehensive detail about CSR policy of the company and its efforts to maintain its reputation in the eye of its stakeholders. The Shell Company in UK can use corporate social responsibility as a tool to implement a long term strategy in order to improve its relationship with its stakeholder including customers and community as well as to improve its economic performance. The Shell Company by implementing ecological practices in their strategy can create a consumer market. With the help of ecological practices Shell Company can maintain its survival in the business market for longer period of time. The corporate social responsibility allows the company to get on the triple that includes societal, economic and environmental aspect of the business. This can help the company to create a positive impact on the consumer’s perception which helps in building reputation of the company. The Shell Company has been aware of the importance of corporate social responsibility to rebuild their reputation but still further improvements are suggested on the corporate social responsibility policy of the company. The members from the society are not so well aware of the term corporate social responsibility or its exact meaning therefore, company needs to create awareness among the public so that the public must consider this while making their purchasing decisions.

 There are a number of communication strategies that company can utilize to make its society aware about the corporate social responsibility activities of the company. This has been suggested that Shell Company better utilise the benefits of social media. Social media is quite efficient and active media that attract people from all age groups. The company has a Facebook page and customer service portal on its website that provides information about the activities of the company, but still company needs to improve its communication marketing strategy to gain the trust of the public.  The company should organize seminars and public events where experts talk about the corporate social activities of the company including charity programs to educate the public which helps them to build their good reputation. On the other hand, public become aware of the company’s social activities and consider its position while purchasing product. As it has been studied previously that consumer perception has not been influenced by the social driven activities of the company rather on the price and quality of the product. However, due to increased environmental concerns people are considering companies that are involved in green marketing strategies. This seems positive but still cannot transform the purchasing decision of the consumers. This obstructs their positive attitude towards corporate social responsibility while making their purchasing decisions rather focus on price and quality of the product. Therefore, the Shell Company’s management requires considering the factor while making marketing strategies that influence the purchasing decision of the customers because the companies that ignore to incorporate corporate social responsibility in their marketing and communication strategies fail to build and maintain their good reputation in the eye of their customers. The Shell Company must have transparent corporate social responsibility strategies to make public aware about the social concern the company have for the wellbeing of the society. The gathered interviews from the managers and society have extended the work of the recent studies in the oil and gas industry. First, the importance of corporate social responsibility cannot be ignored in the volatile business environment. The Shell Company sells a product that cannot come in direct contact with the public. Therefore, the company, after their bad publicity started to rebuild its reputation through the activities of the corporate social responsibility. With respect to the customers, company must aware that customers find different issues exciting and significant for them not all. The Shell Company must consider this before promoting their corporate social responsibility efforts as it reflects in its brand image to attract the customers. The unsuccessful repositioning of their corporate social responsibility efforts may weaken the reputation of the company therefore; the company CSR policy must be transparent and support the social cause.

The interview results of the study reveal that although public don’t have enough knowledge about the corporate social responsibility but still they care about the social and environmental concerns. The positive relationship has been found between the corporate social responsibility and reputation of the company. The management of Shell Company informed that they used corporate social responsibility as a strategic tool to rebuild their reputation, but in order to maintain their position in the marketplace; they must focus on incorporating these corporate social responsibility activities into their marketing and communication strategy in order to clearly communication about their support regarding social causes and to create a positive impact on the mind of their consumer. The first managerial implication is that corporate social responsibility increases the brand equity and image of the company which results in customer retention and its purchasing decision. The study reveals the strategic importance of the corporate social responsibility strategy that should be incorporated into the corporate business strategy. The second managerial implication is that if company puts serious efforts into their corporate social responsibility activities that would result in increased perceived consumer value that ultimately create a value for the company. Therefore, in order to increase the competitiveness in the marketplace, the managers must consider the increase corporate social responsibility efforts. Managers should understand that how corporate social responsibility efforts can result increase building reputation of the company as well as positively affect the consumer perception regarding the brand image. Along with this, managers should also understand that few corporate social responsibility activities lead towards low creation value for customers if they are not properly involved in socially and environmentally activities with a responsible behavior. Therefore, incorporating corporate social responsibility into the business strategy and decision making process of the company as well as aligning it with the company’s operation can result in success of the company.

The interview technique was used to collect the data from only five managers and the ten members from the society due to the shortage of time and resources which makes it impossible to generalize the results. However, it open a door for further study on the oil and gas sector by taking corporate social responsibility and its impact on the consumer’s perception of reputation of the company. The current qualitative research has been conducted on only one region with few respondents who do not have enough knowledge of the CSR strategies. Further research can involve more people from the company and society and consider both qualitative and quantitative techniques in order have in depth study of the issue. The large number of participants with perfect knowledge of corporate social responsibility strategies could provide better answers and their comments significantly verify to add depth into the research study. Another limitation of the study is the age restriction. Future studies on old adults might result in different perspective of the corporate social responsibility and its impact on the consumer’s perception of brand image of the company. The current research provides a deep understanding of the corporate social responsibilities. However, there are still many interesting areas for further research. The list has been created as recommendations for the future:

  • The society members have the knowledge and idea about the corporate social responsibility but future studies should be conducted to analyze the demand of the customers regarding corporate social activities of the company and their initiatives for corporate social responsibility activities.
  • The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of corporate social responsibility policy on the consumer perception of the brand image of the company. Since Shell Company had been affected by the bad reputation once, therefore future research should be conducted on different companies in order to have a depth analysis of the importance of corporate social responsibility in building reputation of the company.
  • A broader study is recommended on different industries in order differentiate the results to generalize the results.

The current study provides in depth detail regarding the corporate social responsibility activities in Shell Company. This research has provided me with an opportunity to understand this phenomenon in relation with consumers’ perception of brand image. I got an opportunity to visit the company and to meet with the corporate management which has helped me in understanding the practical knowledge regarding the issue. The most interesting part was meeting with society members and explaining them regarding corporate social responsibility. The responses were interesting and significantly vary that helps me to write recommendations for the company. In nutshell, this work has helped me to understand the importance of how corporate social responsibility in building reputation of the company.






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Appendix A: Interview related Questions

1. How do you define the broader concept of the corporate social responsibility of the Shell Company?

2. What are the strategies related to corporate social responsibilities to enhance and build the reputation of the company?

3. Does Company have to face any crises? If yes then how they handle it

4. How does company use corporate social responsibility to retain its customers?

5. What kind of communication effort is used to ensure the corporate social responsibility?


1. Age: 

2. Do you know the term “corporate social responsibility” (abbreviated as CSR)? If yes, the where have you heard about it and how do you formulate its meaning?

3. Is companies’ social responsible behavior important for you? If yes then explain 

4. What is your opinion about corporate social responsibility on which the company should pay the most attention? Which is important for you and Why?    

5. Do you consider company’s corporate social responsibility when making your everyday purchasing decisions?

6. Would you be ready to pay more for a product/service, which is produced by a socially responsible company and why?

Appendix B: Ethics Form

BBS Research Ethics Approval Form: UG and PG Students


BBS is concerned to protect the dignity, rights, safety and well being of all participants in any research study involving people. The avoidance of harm to research subjects should therefore be a prime consideration for all BBS researchers and students. To this end, BBS has developed research ethics review procedures that require staff and students (and student supervisors) to complete an ethics approval application form prior to the commencement of any research project.


If the research is not NHS-based, please complete the questions below and hand the form to your supervisor. Once your supervisor has approved and signed off the form he/she will retain it for the duration of the student project. Your supervisor might ask you to make amendments prior to approving it. Alternatively, the form might be referred to the BBS Research Ethics Committee for review if your supervisor feels it is necessary to obtain additional expert opinion.


If the research is based in an NHS institution then quite separate approval processes must be completed. In such cases, contact Linda Millward ([email protected]) or Professor Andy Danford ([email protected]) as soon as possible for further advice on the procedure required.  In their absence, Fiona Watt, Research Manager will deal with any queries.


Name of Student



Email address



Student Number



Degree Programme (eg, BABA; MAHRM, PhD)



Research, Postgraduate or Undergraduate status



Name of student supervisor




Project Title


Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumer Perception/ Brand Image

Proposed project start date



Proposed project end date


November, 2015


1. Does the research project involve any of the following risk factors:

Research involving health sector organisations


Research involving children or other vulnerable groups


Research involving sensitive topics


Research involving aerospace/defence organisations


Research involving nuclear production organisations



2. Provide a brief outline of the aims and objectives of the proposed research project.

Research Aim

The research aim of the study is, “To analyse the importance of CSR activities in oil companies for influencing brand image of companies”.  

Research Objectives

In light of the research aim, following are the research objectives:

  • To study the trend of implementing CSR activities in organizations.
  • To assess the importance of CSR activities for companies in today’s competitive business world.
  • To study the impact of CSR activities on brand image of oil companies.



3. Describe the proposed research design and include details of the types of data to be collected from human participants (for example: observation of people; number and type of people to be interviewed, such as their job role or occupation; use of survey questionnaires and the type of people to be included in the survey). Please include your proposed research questions.

Explanatory research design will help the researcher to know the questions related to theories and hypothesis. It will help the researcher to implement the reasons behind the findings of the study. The author will make use the primary data collection methods for the present study. In-depth interviews will be developed for the present study in order to collect data from the people living in society of shell company UK. These interview questions are asked from top managers and people living in society in which Shell Company is operating. Total five interviews have been conducted in organization of informants with time period of one hour. Secondly, the interviews were conducted from ten society members in order to know about the impact of the CSR activities on their purchasing behavior.


4. Does the proposed research contain any potentially contentious issues that might affect the physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing of the research participants? If so, provide full details.

There is nothing in this research that physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing of the research participants.


5. Describe how you or your host organisation will gain the informed consent of individuals who will participate in the researchIf appropriate, please attach a copy of your draft consent form.

The informed consent is obtained through the attached consent form [Appendix C]


6. Describe how you will maintain the confidentiality of the research data collected. Also, describe how you will ensure that research participants are anonymised in your data analysis.

The name and designation of respondents is not used anywhere in this research. The analysis has not reported the names of participants.  Hence, the comments cannot be traced.


7. Describe how you will store your data, who will have access to it, and what happens to the data at the end of the project.

The computer system is having all data. The data is password protected and it cannot be accessed by anyone else other than the researcher. Once the dissertation is completed, transcripts will be destroyed.




Student’s Signature







For the attention of UG and PG RESEARCH SUPERVISORS

If you feel that this research ethics application can be approved then sign in the box below and retain the form for the duration of the student research project. The form may need to be accessed for ethics auditing purposes during this period.

If there are any ethical issues of a potentially problematic nature that, in your opinion, require clarification or further scrutiny by the Faculty Research Ethics Committee then forward this form to Linda Millward in the BBS Research Office ([email protected]

Student Supervisor’s Signature










Appendix C: Consent Form


Full title of Project: Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumer Perception/ Brand Image

Name, position and contact address of Researcher:


Please Initial Box




I confirm that I have read and understand the information sheet for the above study and have had the opportunity to ask questions.




  1. I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I

            am free to withdraw at any time, without giving reason.





3.         I agree to take part in the above study.








Note for researchers:


Include the following statements if appropriate, or delete from your consent form:


4.         I agree to the interview consultation being audio recorded






I agree to the use of anonymised quotes in publications










Name of Participant                                        Date                                        Signature






Name of Researcher                                        Date                                        Signature





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