All for a good cause: a study of placement of cause marketing advertisements in consumer online decision journey
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This study examines the impacts of placing cause advertisements at different stages of a consumer’s online decision journey. Cause related marketing (CRM) is defined as a commercial activity in which a brand is advertised with a cause to increase the effectiveness of marketing by inducing consumer altruism, reducing skepticism and increasing satisfaction with purchase. Extant literature on CRM advertising has focused mostly on TV/print campaigns (Mohr and Chiagouris, 2005). The increasing interest in online cause advertising, driven by the growth in e-commerce, makes our research both important and timely (Meeker and Wu, 2019). Existing research suggests that consumer needs and expectations differ along the decision journey. Towards the beginning, consumers feel skepticism and desire control over the process; towards the payment stage, consumers feel elevation about their purchase and a greater need for trust (Batra and Keller, 2016; Powers, et al, 2012). Given this difference, it becomes imperative to identify customer mindset at each stage of online decision journey and develop effective marketing communications tailored to a customer’s stage in decision journey. With this aim, through laboratory and field studies, this study examines the impact of placement of cause advertisements at different stages of consumer’s online decision journey on the brand and the associated cause. Utilizing insights from persuasion knowledge model and social exchange theory, we show that the placement of CRM advertisements at the beginning and end of consumers’ online decision journey has a differential impact on consumer behavior. We identify the underlying mechanism for this effect and show that consumer skepticism towards the CRM advertisement and felt elevation mediate this relationship. We find that advertisement characteristics such as trust in CRM advertisement, perceived control in cause advertisement and product characteristic namely product involvement moderate this relationship. This dissertation contributes to the literature on online CRM strategies and answers the call for research on the consumer decision journey (Batra and Keller, 2016). It is one of the first studies that juxtaposes CRM ad characteristics with features of consumers’ online decision journey. This research can help marketers successfully formulate online CRM strategies for the brand and the cause.
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