Cause-Related Marketing in Mobile Commerce – The Role of Campaign Individualization

Sabrina Lucke, Joerg Heinze


Purpose. Pairing corporate sales offers with charitable donations has recently become common business practice to increase sales volumes. Thereby, most Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) campaigns support charitable causes that are predetermined by the company. It remains unclear whether providing individual choice options to consumers (i.e. letting consumers individually choose the organization, the charitable cause or the receiving destination of the donation) is able to evoke even more positive consumer reactions. Especially the aspiring field of Mobile Commerce (M-Commerce) that currently struggles to successfully commercialize service-based products could use the additional benefits of (individualized) CRM campaigns. The study therefore aimed at identifying the effects of personal choice of donation elements on purchase intention within CRM campaigns. Furthermore, the transferability of positive consumer reactions to CRM campaigns to the mobile sales channel was examined on the example of mobile insurances within this study.

Methodology. Drawing on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) the study was operationalized in an experimental online survey. Six different manipulations of CRM campaigns were presented to a total sample of 420 participants. The data were tested regarding the differences in consumers’ purchase intention by using ANOVAs and Post Hoc Tests. Moreover, structural equation modelling (SEM) was used to quantify the causal relationships among the variables in the model.

Results. The results revealed that Cause-Related Marketing is able to positively influence consumer purchase intentions concerning mobile insurances under the condition of no choice. The authors further demonstrate that individual choice of cause decreases purchase intention in this context. Finally, the study revealed several additional factors that drive purchase intention for mobile insurances in association with a CRM campaign. Those are product involvement, attitude towards the company, attitude towards mobile giving and subjective norm.

The theoretical contribution. The present study substantiated the power of the TPB for digital channels by including the variables involvement and expertise into the model. It was shown that both variables have an influence on purchase intention – while product involvement has a direct positive influence on purchase intention, expertise indirectly effects purchase intention via the construct of perceived control. Although many studies applied the TPB to the online shopping or E-Commerce domain, the present study has shown the applicability of the TPB-based model also for the upcoming M-Commerce. Furthermore, the study contributed to existing research in Cause-Related Marketing and CSR. It partly confirmed the positive effects of Cause-Related Marketing on consumer reactions but rejected prior findings in offline contexts that established a positive influence of choice on consumer reactions towards CRM-linked products. Thus, the sales channel (offline, stationary online, mobile) was identified as a relevant impact factor for CRM campaigns.

Practical implications. Cause-Related Marketing might be a suitable instrument to support corporate efforts to overcome existing consumer barriers towards mobile insurances. However, the provision of individual choice of the charitable campaign to consumers was found to evoke rather negative consumer reactions. CRM campaigns for mobile insurances should therefore support predetermined charities and causes.

Keywords: Mobile Marketing, Cause-Related Marketing, Corporate Giving, Theory of Planned Behavior.

Paper type: Research paper.


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