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New Cause Marketing Study Suggests that Consumers Feel Empowered When They Choose the Cause

A press account in Nonprofit Quarterly reports that a new academic study finds that when cause marketing campaigns give consumers the opportunity to determine which cause receives support that consumers are more likely to buy and have a more positive attitude toward the company than when no choice is offered

The study, found in the current issue of the Journal of Marketing, was authored by Stefanie Rosen Robinson from North Carolina State University and Caglar Irmak and Frances Hipp of the University of South Carolina.

I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know the methodology. But Rick Cohen writes on the Nonprofit Quarterly website that,
“according to the study, three factors affect the content and potential success of consumer-driven cause-related marketing campaigns: collectivism, cause-brand fit, and goal proximity. The article abstract offers the following explanation:”

“’Noncollectivists’ value choice because it allows them to choose their own individual preferences. However, even “collectivists” will appreciate CM campaigns based on choice because they appreciate and value collaborative actions and are thus attracted to the notion of their choices matching others’ charitable choices.” 
“If the choice of benefiting charities is limited by the corporation’s brand, the consumer-driven CM campaign is actually less effective than allowing consumers to have a sense of more personal control. In cause marketing, giving consumers real choice and control works better.” 
“Consumers are more likely to feel positively about their moneys contributing to projects that are close to their intended goals (the ‘goal proximity’ factor). So, hypothetically, consumers will feel better about their moneys going to a project that is 80 percent toward reaching its goal than one that is only 20 percent there and still far away. Companies might be well advised to donate the first 80 percent on their own so that consumers can think of themselves as finishing off the last 20 percent.”
Study design counts in research like this. I’ve seen cause marketing campaigns that offer thousands of potential charities to choose from. But social science frequently finds too much choice to be paralyzing.

More on this paper and its implications after I’ve had the chance to read it.

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