Digital cause-related marketing campaigns: Relationship between brand-cause fit and behavioural intentions

Meenakshi Handa, Shruti Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: With the rising concern for the planet and people dimensions of the triple-bottom-line, an increasing number of firms are using cause-related marketing (CRM) to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders. With growing internet and social media access the Indian consumer is being invited to participate in such campaigns through digital platforms. The purpose of the present study is to examine consumer perceptions about select digital CRM campaigns in terms of perceived fit between the brand and the cause being promoted and the extent of participation effort required by the campaign and further to investigate the relationship between these two variables and consumers’ intentions to participate in the campaign, engage in positive word-of-mouth about it and their brand purchase intentions. Design/methodology/approach: Six online CRM campaigns in the consumer products space were taken up for study. Primary data was collected through a structured questionnaire in an online mode, which provided an advertisement snapshot and a brief description of each CRM campaign. Items to measure variables under examination were adapted from the extant literature. Three versions of the questionnaire were created, with each version involving two of the six campaigns. Thus, each respondent was responding to items pertaining to two campaigns only. A total of 242 responses were collected, using non-probability sampling. Findings: The study indicates overall positive responses to the digital CRM campaigns included in the study. It finds that for the online CRM campaigns taken up for examination, respondents perceive a high extent of brand-cause fit. A fit between the cause being promoted and the brand’s sphere of activity is a factor that needs to be considered for its impact on consumer willingness to participate in the campaign and intention to engage in positive word-of-mouth about it. The study does not indicate a significant relationship between participation effort for online campaigns and consumer behavioural intentions. Consumer participation intentions and word-of-mouth intentions are found to be positively related to intentions to purchase the brand associated with the campaign. Practical implications: In their efforts to design effective CRM campaigns, marketers should use creativity in looking for a common thread, which ties their business or brand with the cause being promoted. Consumers tend to perceive this congruence between the cause and the brand and this impacts their behavioural responses. It is possible that the fact that consumers are not required to make a purchase but are being invited to support a cause by performing a non-transaction-based activity, may also underlie their positive response to this genre of CRM activities. The study provides an understanding of factors that contribute to the effectiveness of non-purchase-based online CRM campaigns in garnering consumer engagement with the campaign and the brand. Originality/value: The results provide important insights regarding non-transaction based digital CRM campaigns and the relationship between brand-cause fit, perceived participation effort and targeted changes in consumers’ behavioural intentions. Online CRM campaigns involving consumer participation in forms other than brand purchase are an emerging area of effort towards customer engagement and thus warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Indian Business Research
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

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