CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR AND ITS IMPACT ON THE COMPANY’S MARKET POSITION IN TERMS OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
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AbstractFor many years in developing countries, including Poland, there was an argument that the economy is not mature enough to take the social and environmental issues into account, and companies must first of all fight for survival. However, economic situation stabilizing after the crisis (started in 2007) suggests that companies that want to gain a high position in the market should invest in innovative solutions and rethink the economic model to a more socially responsible one. In this situation, more common criticism of unethical behaviour, in particular criticism of destructive greed and short-sightedness of entrepreneurs should be considered as a positive phenomenon. An example of how far social norms lost their significance can be observed in the cases of Enron, Lehman Brothers, WorldCom and Arthur Andersen, and, in Poland, Amber Gold. These events led to a broad public discussion about moral issues, in particular about the qualifications of market actors' behaviour and consequences of these behaviours for consumers. Many entrepreneurs have recognized these principles, especially those embedded in consumer behaviour. This metamorphosis involves consumers considering other attributes of a product than just hedonistic ones. All benefits associated with the use of goods are no longer the main value for many consumers. Quite a few consumers are willing to pay more for goods, which are, for example, produced with respect for the environment. They pay more attention to production which is harmless to the environment than to the one which creates a threat to human society. These avant-garde requirements combine the care for the environment with social sensitivity, and the lack of their respect may result in ostracism from consumers. These expectations caused that, over recent years, there has been an increased interest in the concept of socially responsible business. Therefore, effective communication is the key to overcoming a gap between openness of consumers to information on corporate social responsibility on the one hand, and their actual purchasing behaviour, on the other. The aim of this paper is to show that the future of any business depends on its customers who are increasingly interested in finding out how it behaves. This is a clear signal for conducting business activities that only socially responsible companies inspire consumer confidence. Therefore, it is vital to develop appropriate relations between consumers and business and to share the common values and norms which favour the formation of trust between them.