Short or Long? The Right Combination of Time Duration, Cause Type, and Product Type in Cause-Related Marketing: An Abstract
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Cause-related marketing (CRM) is a common form of activity, which involves a company’s promise to donate a certain amount of money to a nonprofit organization or a social cause when customers purchase their products/services (Varadarajan and Menon 1988). Researchers have suggested that a CRM campaign that promotes a cause for a longer period of time increases spending on a product or service (Brink et al. 2006; Drumwright 1996; Varadarajan and Menon 1988; Webb and Mohr 1998). However, evidence from practice and research appears to be inconsistent that some companies are found to support causes over a short period of time.
We propose that the decision of time duration should depend on cause type (primary vs. secondary) and product type (utilitarian vs. hedonic). Results from three studies show that a long time duration works when pairing a utilitarian product with a primary cause or a hedonic product with a secondary cause. On the other hand, a short time duration is advantageous for a hedonic product with a primary cause. This research further demonstrates the attributed company motives as the mechanism underlying consumer purchase behavior.
Our findings make several theoretical contributions. First, this study makes important contributions to the extant CRM literature by considering the time factor. Second, going beyond simple demonstrations of how short and long durations affect CRM effectiveness, this research clarifies the conditions under which each time duration is likely to be effective. We do so by considering two factors that influence CRM success: product type and cause type. Third, the current research also adds to the literature on sponsorship. Examination of these advertising cues adds to our understanding of sponsorship effects.
This research has important managerial implications for marketers. Companies planning to engage in CRM may choose the time duration of a campaign. If a company decides to implement tactical CRM on a short-term basis, the company should pair a hedonic product with a primary cause. The nonprofit sector and social marketers can also benefit from our research. The findings provide specific guidelines to help nonprofits maximize the impacts of cause–brand alliances, based on time duration, product type, and cause type.