The impact of the perceived fit between company and halal offering on CSR image


In a recent study, communication scientists Samira Rahimi Mavi, Sabine Einwiller, and Ingrid Wahl analyzed the impact of the sale of halal products on consumers in the context of companies' communication and strategy approaches. How well the halal offer fits the company in the eyes of consumers plays a decisive role in their perceptions and behavior in relation to the company.

Article by Annika Arndt (✉

Globalization and migration have increased the demand for halal products in many European countries. This gives food retailers the opportunity to expand their product range and at the same time fulfill their social responsibility by fostering the inclusion of Muslim customers. A study at the University of Vienna investigated the impact of perceived fit between companies and halal offerings, as well as consumer scepticism on image and corporate social responsibility (CSR image). The results show that the better the halal products are perceived to fit the company, the better the image of the company is perceived in terms of CSR and the more positively the company is talked about. Furthermore, it was shown that a better fit between companies and their halal offerings also reduces consumers' skepticism as to why the company offers these products, which in turn improves the CSR image.

Globalisation and migration have increased the proportion of Muslims in the overall population in many European countries and thus also the demand for products that can satisfy their religious needs. Various retailers in the food sector have responded by offering halal products. They also actively promote the inclusion of their Muslim customers, which can be seen as an act of corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR strategies of companies are designed to ensure long-term economic, social and environmental well-being and are implemented through business practices, policies and resources. The study by communication scientists Samira Rahimi Mavi, Sabine Einwiller and Ingrid Wahl from the University of Vienna focused specifically on how the perceived fit between a food retail company and its offering of halal products influences the cognitive and behavioral reactions of consumers. The influence of skepticism that the company only offers halal products for self-serving motives was also investigated.

Corporate social responsibility

Communication on socially responsible corporate behavior, such as the inclusion of religious minorities, should help to increase consumer awareness of CSR initiatives and positively influence the perception of the company (CSR image) and consumer behavior. The CSR image of a company comprises people's impressions of whether and how a company assumes social responsibility. A positive CSR image can then lead to behavioral adjustments in terms of purchase intentions, loyalty and word of mouth.

When it comes to CSR, however, consumers are often sceptical, i.e., they question the motives behind companies doing their 'good deeds'. CSR scepticism is the state of distrust or doubt about a company's motives for carrying out CSR activities for ethical and not just economic reasons. This scepticism can have a negative impact on a company's CSR image and credibility. However, if the fit between the CSR initiative and the company is perceived as high, this scepticism can be reduced. In order to explore the relationships between perceived fit, scepticism, CSR image and behavioral intentions, the researchers conducted an online survey with a total of 212 consumers in Austria.

Perception, scepticism and CSR image: The role of fit between companies and halal products

The results of the study suggest that the perceived fit between the company and the CSR initiative, in this case the offer of halal products, is a significant factor influencing the CSR image. This positive effect was mediated by CSR scepticism. "If the consumers surveyed perceived the communicated halal offer as appropriate for the food retailer, then they were less sceptical that the retailer was only offering halal products out of pure self-interest. In this case, the CSR image was perceived more positively", says Samira Rahimi Mavi, one of the authors of the study. However, if the consumers surveyed found that halal products did not suit the company, they were sceptical about this offer and the CSR image was negatively influenced. Yet, according to the further results of the study, a good CSR image is important as it has an influence on consumer behavior. Samira Rahimi Mavi explains further: "A good CSR image is important because it has a positive influence on the behavior of consumers. Our study has shown that it has a positive influence on the communication behavior of consumers toward the company, as they were more likely to want to speak positively about the company to other people if they had a positive CSR image".


Publication details

Rahimi Mavi, S., Einwiller, S., & Wahl, I. (2024). Communicating about halal products to non-muslim consumers – The role of fit and skepticism. Journal of Marketing Communications. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/13527266.2024.2335563

Samira Rahimi Mavi was a PhD Candidate in the Department of Communcation at the University of Vienna. She successfully defended her dissertation in March 2024.


Ingrid Wahl is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Communcation at the University of Vienna since 2022.


Sabine Einwiller is Professor of Public Relations Research and Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna.