Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present exploratory examination of the ways in which large retailers in the UK are using corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a means of communicating with customers while they are in the store. Design/methodology/approach – After a literature-based review of CSR, its relationship to marketing and the rationale for growing retail interest in the topic, an analysis is conducted of CSR reports and information posted on the world wide web by the UK's top ten food retailers, followed by participant observation in their largest branch stores in one medium-sized English town. Findings – While there were considerable variations in the extent to which the top ten retailers used CSR themes to communicate with customers at the point of sale, the scope was found to be generally limited. The main messages used concerned support for British food producers, Fairtrade, fitness, healthy living, healthy eating, organic produce, sustainability, employment policies, charitable giving, and support for local communities. Research limitations/implications – Further studies could confirm and extend understanding of the role of in-store CSR communications in strengthening brand image and engaging customers with wider social and environmental issues to a company's advantage. Practical implications – Marketing intelligence insights can form the basis for marketing plans and strategies related to CSR, principally in the context of retailing but also beyond it. Originality/value – An accessible review of how the UK's leading retailers are addressing CSR issues, of potential interest to marketing academics and practitioners working on and in the retail marketplace.
- consumer behaviour
- corporate social responsibility
- large enterprises
- marketing communications
- united kingdom