Extending the knowledge on cause-related marketing (CrM) campaign with focus on skepticism

Published date23 November 2019
Date23 November 2019
AuthorMadhurima Deb,Vibhas Amawate
Subject MatterInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Extending the knowledge on
cause-related marketing (CrM)
campaign with focus
on skepticism
Madhurima Deb
Department of Marketing, Indian Institute of Management Kashipur,
Kashipur, India, and
Vibhas Amawate
Indian Institute of Management Kashipur, Kashipur, India
Purpose This study aims to gain insight on evaluationof cause-related marketing (CrM) campaigns by
the millennialwith focus on skepticism, brand identity and patronage intention.
Design/methodology/approach To attain the above objectivea conceptual modelwas developed and
tested usingstructural equation modeling and conrmatory factoranalysis.
Findings The nding suggests that sub-segments exist among millennial segments. They can be
classied into hedonic,utilitarian, individualistic and collectivists.Compared to utilitarian and individualistic
customers hedonic and collectivists were found to evaluate CrM campaign more favorably. Utilitarian and
individualisticdepict skepticism toward CrM campaign.
Practical implications The in-depth knowledge gained about millennials is expected to benet
academicians and marketers alike. Academicians will be enriched by the knowledge of the micro-segments
that exists among the millennial and how that had differential impacton their skepticism while evaluating
CrM campaign. The marketers involved in the designing andimplementation of the CrM campaign will be
beneted from the in-depth knowledge of segments with lower and higher levels of skepticism. Such
knowledgegained will help them develop more effective CrM campaign.
Originality/value One of the contributions of the presentstudy is that it extends the existingknowledge
about millennials,particularly in the context of CrM campaign evaluation integratingit with other important
variablessuch as skepticism, brand identity and patronage intention.
Keywords Brand identity, Patronage intention, Marketing strategy, Cause-related marketing (CrM),
Skepticism, CrM motives
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Companies move toward symbolicpositioning using attributes like cause-related marketing
(CrM), to create desired brand equity and improve customers patronage intention, which is
well documented in the literature (Tien and Phau, 2010;La Ferle et al.,2013;Baghi and
Antonetti, 2017). Using CrM to address social and environmental concerns of millennials
had been found to be impactful in creating awareness and brand resonance (Chang and
Cheng, 2015;Lafferty et al.,2016). Environment oriented activities by rms such as save
water, tree and planet by reducing carbon footprint had been often linkedby a company to
their CrM campaign. It is, therefore, importantto nd if all the campaigns positively impact
customers perceptionsabout brand identity and their patronage intention.
Received3 May 2019
Revised10 October 2019
Accepted12 October 2019
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.50 No. 2, 2020
pp. 329-348
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-05-2019-0061
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of CrM had met with mixed results. In
some studies, CrM campaign by rms had been found to trigger favorable behavior by
customers (Tien and Phau, 2010;Lafferty et al., 2016). Some studies have also suggested
negative evaluation of CrM campaign impacting customers patronage intentions, in a
negative manner (Klever et al., 2016;Bae, 2018;Elving, 2013;Anuar and Mohamad, 2012).
The negative evaluation of CrM campaign is well depicted using consumer skepticism, a
phenomenon, which is less studied(Tien and Phau, 2010;and Kim, 2016;Klever et al.,2016;
Bae, 2018). Hence, we propose that studies on the evaluation of CrM campaign and its
outcomes with focus on customerskepticism need attention (La Ferle et al., 2013;Folse et al.,
2010;Nan and Heo, 2007).
In general, consumers use skepticism as a defensive mechanism to protect themselves
from misleading and deceptive marketing practices. Skepticism is dened, as publics
inclination to question, distrust, and have negative feelings toward an organizations
socially responsible actions and claims, is developed when publics repeatedly experience
inconsistency in behaviorsand claims(Webb and Mohr, 1998). Skepticism is mostly studied
in the context of advertising, marketing, political communication and media studies
(Obermiller and Spangenberg,1998;Webb and Mohr, 1998).
Rim and Kim (2016) in their work on skepticism had foundthat skepticism and its scale
validity in the context of social responsibility are rare. Skepticism had been found to be a
complex topic becauseof its similarity to other concepts such as distrust, dissatisfactionand
cynicism (Rim and Kim, 2016;Skarmeas et al.,2014). In their work on skepticism Rim and
Kim discussed about the differencesbetween these concepts and found that skepticism need
not be relationship-based(as in case of trust/distrust), is other-focusednot self-focused (as in
case of dissatisfaction), can be both situation and dispositional (unlike cynicism, which is
dispositional) (Cho, 2006, p. 26; Andersson and Bateman, 1997, p. 451; Kanter and Wortzel,
1985, p. 6; Helm et al., 2015; Forehandand Grier, 2003; Webb and Mohr, 1998). Despite some
overlaps between these concepts theywere found to be different in many aspects. Hence, in
the present work skepticism is used to capture the defensive mechanism in the minds of
customers relatingto the CrM campaigns.
Further studies suggestthat CrM is more effective in case of hedonic shoppers as against
utilitarians(Strahilevitz and Myers, 1998). CrM had been found to reduce consumersguilt,
which is often associated with hedonic shopping (Botti and McGill, 2011;Kivetz and
Simonson, 2002;Hagtvedt and Patrick, 2009). Subrahmanyan (2004) and Bilimoria and
Morrow (1995), however, questioned the relevance of the above rationale in the context of
Asian nations, which are shameoriented against guiltoriented culture of the western
counterparts. This needs to be establishedby testing its validity in the context of an Asian
nation along with other factors such as collectivism (Asian nations are often labeled as
collectivists) and individualism. Western culture is known to be individualistic, hence, can
be expected to be more critical and look for their individual benets from such CrM
activities as against their Asian counterparts who are collectivists, and thus, expected to be
less critical of CrM campaign (La Ferle et al., 2013;Szykman et al., 2004;Gupta, 2011). The
present study lls the void in the literature by buildingon the existing knowledge about the
impact of CrM on customer hedonism,utilitarianism, collectivists and individualistic values.
The above relationshipsare studied in the context of India and emerging Asian nations.
The review of literature further suggeststhat skepticism especially in emerging markets
where CrM is relatively a new phenomenon, need to be explored in-depth (Goh and Balaji,
2016;La Ferle et al., 2013;Changand Cheng, 2015;Nejati et al.,2015), as most of the research
in this eld were found to be clustered around developedcountries, such as USA and Europe

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