Amr Abdel Aziz
The Importance of Corporate Social Performance in Place Branding of Retail Banks in Egypt
Branding issues are becoming increasingly complex and Corporate Social Performance (CSP) is growing in importance for both companies and customers. Customers perceive brands as a promise that should be kept while CSP implicitly is about keeping a promise between companies and their societies. In place marketing, the place product must be adapted to fit the needs of place customers. The overall targets of a place can be reached only when this task has been fulfilled. Each place should define and communicate its special features and competitive advantages effectively. Proponents of CSP advise companies to proactively acknowledge the interests of stakeholders and integrate their voice in corporate decisions.
This study focuses on the relationship between CSP measures and place branding through enhancing brand equity. The study aims at filling this literature gap in a Middle East context, namely Egypt. Survey-based methodology was followed from two points of view. From bankers’ point of view to measure CSP and from investors’ point of view to measure brand equity of two Egyptian-based retail banks which are listed in the CASE (Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange). A total of two hundred and twenty self-administered surveys were distributed among bankers and investors of the two retail banks.
It appears to be that CSR agenda in emerging economies is mainly driven by the ‘outside’ forces such as pressure of international financial institutions, pressures from international buyers and parent companies. There is real concern that such imposition from ‘outside’ (ignoring the local context) will only encourage passive compliance without any effective change on the ground in terms of greater corporate accountability and transparency.
Some limitations should be addressed in this research. A Longitudinal study could investigate how customers perceive banks’ brands in Egypt and whether not they value banks applying CSP. A qualitative study is required to explore factors affecting consumers' perception of banking services brands and to better explain consumers' attitudes and behaviours towards banks adopting corporate social responsibility. In addition, a quantitative study should be conducted on a larger sample to be more representative of the population and to generalize findings within the banking sector.
Results yield useful insights to both academics, and corporate and brand practitioners about the importance of synthesizing brand equity of a place with CSP in the banking sector.
Results depicted that we cannot have two standards, one for society and one for companies. Both must promote good morals and ethics. Therefore, if the individuals themselves can conduct their businesses in an ethical and sustainable manner, then the company will inevitably conform to any external CSP standard that will be utilized in the development of the welfare of the society.
This research addressed the relationship between CSP and place branding. There is a limited literature in this domain. Therefore, the contribution of this research is to draw a model that investigate the relationship between applying CSP and place branding through improving brand equity on retail banks in a developing country, namely Egypt. Results of this research might be of interest to companies, practitioners, and society concerning the application of corporate social responsibility.