Identifying Success Factors of Cause-related Marketing: An Exploratory Analysis
Abstract: Cause-related marketing (CRM) is a popular strategy that helps companies fulfill their social responsibility initiatives. CRM refers to a collaborative initiative between a for-profit and a non-profit organization in which the for-profit companies donate a specified amount to a chosen cause in response to every purchase consumers made (Vanhamme et al., 2012). For example, Pampers launched a CRM campaign to raise funds for UNICEF to support the cause of children’s health. Despite of its popularity, what attributes make CRM successful is an under-researched but important area (La Ferle et al., 2013).
To address the research gap, we have compiled a list of successful CRM campaigns that were launched since 2003. To analyze the campaigns, variables related to the objective information of the CRM campaigns were identified, such as year of launch, host country, target consumers, country of for-profit, country of non-profit, prior CSR initiatives, and outcomes.
Several themes have emerged from analyzing our sample of CRM campaigns. First, preserved fit between the for-profit and non-profit organization appears to be the most prominent factor. Consumers who felt that the cause aligned with the company’s brand image were more likely to support the campaign. For example, the fit can be observed if there is a connection between the product and the cause through package and/or product design. Second, while some CRM campaigns only require a simple consumer purchase, others have a higher level of customer co-creation (e.g., consumers for the Big Knit campaign knit a woolen hat that is placed on an Innocent smoothie bottle and sold in stores). Third, it appears that for-profit organizations that have previous experience with other social responsibility campaigns are more successful in building credibility. Finally, CRM success can be construed as financial success or public image success; financial success does not guarantee image success.
Rachel Burgess*, Joey Zembo
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